Inheritance Law in Portugal

Inheritance Law in Portugal

Updated on Monday 08th April 2019

Rate this article

based on 4 reviews.

Inheritance-Law-in-Portugal.jpgMatters of succession and the distribution of assets after the passing of the owner are treated in the Inheritance Law in Portugal. The effects of the law should be understood in detail by all individuals who are concerned with how their assets will be distributed, especially in the absence of a will. Our lawyers in Portugal can explain the process of succession in the county, especially for expats or businesspeople who have acquired property and own assets in this jurisdiction.   

Inheritance principles in Portugal

The principles of the Inheritance Law in Portugal can be found in the Civil Code and, in general, all succession and inheritance matters are governed by it. Exceptions may include those particular cases in which an individual is not a Portuguese national but he/she owns property in the country.
Inheritance in Portugal may be treated according to the legal system of the legitimate structure of succession. The first refers to the distribution of assets in the absence of a will while the second refers to the distribution of assets according to a will.
In general, the following principles are used for inheritance in Portugal:
  • - the legal heirs are a spouse and children where the spouse shall not receive less than a quarter of the estate;
  • - children but no spouse: the estate is divided equally;
  • - when the deceased is survived only by a spouse, he/she received all of the estates;
  • - when the deceased is not married and has no children, then the brothers and sisters are the heirs.

The will in Portugal 

The will is a common practice in Portugal and many individuals decide to draw up this document. This document can be especially useful when one individual wishes to grant all or part of the inheritance to another who will otherwise not be entitled to it. In other cases, the one who draws up the will may exclude a beneficiary from his/her lawful inheritance percentage. Portugal does not impose an inheritance tax, however, the stamp duty is payable for some types of transfers, including but not limited to those between spouses. One of our attorneys in Portugal can give you more details on this tax.

What is forced heirship in Portugal?

A minimum of 50% of the personal assets of a deceased is offered under the forced heirship to the legitimate spouse, the biological and/or adopted descendants. Special cases in which there are more than just one legitimate successor, the percent changes into 60, with the mention that it can be attacked in the court of law if the will of the deceased mentions a particular beneficiary in this matter. According to the Inheritance Law in Portugal, the rest of the assets can be distributed as wanted. The same set of laws mentions that if there are no successors to inherit the assets and if there no testament left behind, the Portuguese state is entitled to receive such assets. To be qualified as part of the estate, all the properties in Portugal need to be registered with Portal do Cidadao and the local offices. In terms of taxation, it is important to know that the estate tax has been abolished in 2004, but there are particular succession fees that might apply in certain cases. Feel free to get in touch with our Portuguese attorneys and find out more details in this way. 

How is a will made in Portugal?

A testament in Portugal can be made without hiring an executor as it is made in other European countries. More than that, a will comprises the information that the closest relatives will manage the estate in this case. The closed wills, for example, can be written and created in private and then notarized to a public notary. As for public testaments in Portugal, which are the most commonly used in this country, these are signed in front of a public notary who needs to explain the entire procedure, and also in front of two witnesses. It is important to check the fees involved when drafting a public will, and also solicit legal advice from our lawyers in Portugal.

Do I need an attorney for my will in Portugal?

Yes, it is recommended to consider the legal advice of a Portuguese lawyer if you are a foreigner in this country and you need to make a will. All countries have specific rules regarding testaments, but the majority respects international laws. Also, if you are a successor from abroad and you have relatives in Portugal who passed away and left a testament, it is important to consider the legal advice of a lawyer in Portugal. As for a notary, this is needed when the transaction of assets is made to successors in Portugal. This is also a case where you should consider legal recommendations and support.

Do I need to consider the forced heirship in Portugal?

If you are a foreign citizen in Portugal, you should know that foreign legislation is applicable in your case. This means that forced heirship rules in Portugal cannot be imposed, and you can make your testament as you wish. The case might seem complex and might prolong or successor of non-residents in Portugal, therefore, it is recommended to benefit from the legal services provided by a law firm in Portugal, with expertise in this area.

Asking for a power of attorney

If you are a person wanting to make a will or if you are a successor looking to inherit the assets, you should know that you can appoint our lawyers with a power of attorney and let us handle all the issues involved. The deeds of acceptance of the legacy can enter our attention if you let us work on your behalf with a power of attorney in Portugal. It is good to know that a power of attorney can be created and used for a specific period of time until all the inheritance matters have been solved. Let our team of advisors provide you with comprehensive information and legal advice in this matter.

Selling an inherited property in Portugal

If you are a foreign citizen who inherited a specific asset in Portugal, you have the right to sell that property under certain conditions:
  1. The deed of acceptance of the inheritance needs to be signed before any transaction.
  2. Do not forget to verify if there are any inheritance taxes involved.
  3. Your tax identification number issued in Portugal is needed when selling a property.
  4. You cannot sell a property if it is not registered in the first place with the Land Registry in Portugal.
  5. If you paid all the taxes for your inherited property, then you can legally sell it.
If you, for any reason, decide on keeping the inherited properties, you should consider making a will in Portugal and discover all the legal aspects imposed for foreigners in this country. The Inheritance Law in Portugal might seem complex especially if you are a foreign citizen, which is why we recommend you to talk to a specialized lawyer in inheritance in Portugal, and find out what you are interested in.
We invite you to contact our law firm in Portugal if you have any questions related to inheritance matters in the country or if you are in search of professional legal services.