Wills and Inheritance Law in Panama

Find out about the types of wills that apply in Panama plus information on how living in Panama may affect your inheritance rights...

A will is required in Panama for anyone with assets to distribute after death, and for those with children or dependents.

Anyone over the age of 12 can draft a will in Panama, provided they are in good mental health.

Types of Will

Wills can be either common (open, closed or holograph) or special (maritime, military or offshore).

The most prevalent is the Open Common Will, which must be read by the testator in the company of a Public Notary, three witnesses and two interpreters (if the will is not in Spanish), all of whom then sign it. At that point, the Public Notary issues a Public Deed and the will is official. The will can be prepared by the testator alone or together with an attorney, who can advise and help with translation if necessary.

A Common Closed Will does not disclose its contents to witnesses, but the testator informs the witnesses of the existence of a last will and testament with instructions of where and how to find it in the event of his or her death.

A Holographic Will is simply hand-written by the testator. Witnesses are not required in order for the Will to be valid.

An Offshore Will is a will that deals specifically with the testator's offshore assets. In Panama, this could be a will that specifies what happens to the testator's assets in Panama, even if they live in another country. This could also be a will that specifically deals with assets in another country, if living in Panama.

Military Wills are now obsolete. These were created in Panama for active militants in times of warfare, however Panama no longer has an army.

Maritime Wills apply to those at sea, but must follow the same standard laws and regulations as wills on land.

Information supplied by Law Offices Rainelda Mata-Kelly At: Suite 406-407, Tower B, Torres de las Americas, Punta Pacifica, City of Panama Postal Address: P.O. Box 0818-00534, Panama City, Republic of Panama Tel: (+507) 216 9299