We have all thought about it. The consequences of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus remind us of the importance of reflecting on our will and wishes in the face of illness or fatality. Inescapably, this overwhelming but necessary planning exercise involves analyzing which assets make up our estate, how we would like the estate to be managed if we lose the capacity to do so and, in the face of undoubted death, the manner and among whom we would like it distributed. As a result of this reflection, it is essential to document our will through the corresponding legal instruments.

In the absence of a specific provision by the owner of the estate, Costa Rican legislation has rules that regulate succession processes. However, these provisions may not suit our interests or reality, cause intra-family problems, and involve a series of legal proceedings that could delay the process of distribution and access to assets. The result, in some cases, could make it difficult to support not only the owner of the estate but also all those who depend on this financial support.

The Costa Rican legal system provides for the possibility of implementing inheritance structures that allow the disposition of assets in a quicker, more flexible way and according to our intentions. Although there are some exceptions, these structures, contrary to popular belief, can be modified at any time, as long as the owner of the estate has full use of his faculties.

In most cases, the commonly-used will is a quick and easy alternative to estate planning. However, other vehicles such as the testamentary trust and the Panamanian private interest foundation allow a stricter safeguard of confidentiality, as well as greater flexibility.