Division and distribution of the estate

The document of acceptance, division and distribution of the inheritance must include an inventory of the assets, rights and obligations that make up the inheritance, together with details of the distribution of specific assets to each of the heirs. In the division of the inheritance, credit institutions must abide strictly by the terms of this document.

The division and distribution document does not always correctly reflect bank account balances. In consequence, banks will need to ask the heirs to provide an additional distribution document that makes express reference to the distribution and specific allocation to heirs of the account balances.

An inheritance may be divided by two means:

  • Through the will, if the deceased’s will expressly states to whom the different parts of the estate are to be distributed.

    In consequence, in order to be able to make the corresponding distribution, credit institutions will have to have access to the content of the will.
  • Through division by agreement, if the inheritance is divided and distributed by mutual agreement between the heirs.

    Such division by agreement may be formalised before a Notary Public or in a private document. Accordingly, banks cannot demand that the division be made through a notarial document. However, if a private document is used, it must be signed by all the heirs and bear a certificate of recognition of all their signatures.

Signatures may be recognised by the following means:

  • Authentication of signatures by a Notary Public.
  • Verification in the bank branch of the authenticity of the heirs’ signatures contained in the document. In this case it is not essential that all the heirs appear in the bank branch at one and the same time.

Voiding of the division document

The document evidencing the division and distribution of an inheritance may be voided by a competent court of justice if the validity of the division has been challenged by an interested party.

The mere fact of challenging, or attempting to void, the division and distribution of an inheritance should not automatically result in the heirs being denied access to the funds. Rather, credit institutions should heed the specific circumstances in each case (for example, assessing the type of division concerned, the content of the division document (cuaderno particional), whether or not it includes any type of conditions, etc. …).

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