Many New York residents have family and loved ones in Brazil. When an individual passes away and bequeaths real estate to you or others in the United States, Brazilian laws can affect who actually receives that property. We often advise clients with legal matters related to foreign estate matters. 

According to Global Property Guide, the Brazilian court establishes rules related to succession and has the final say in the distribution of assets. The laws apply to everyone who owns real estate in that country, regardless of whether they are foreigners or citizens residing within Brazil or elsewhere. Whether you receive the property left to you in the will greatly depends on your relationship to the deceased. If you are also the executor of the will, you may face additional challenges. 

Foreign property owners 

Inheritance cases typically take at least six months. Although wills are unusual in Brazil, any capable adult may do so. Creating a local will through a public deed is advisable as it can avoid disputes regarding its validity. It can also minimize the potential of misinterpretation by the Brazilian court. 

If you or other beneficiaries disagree about rights and obligations, the property distribution process may take several years. Per Brazilian law, half of the total estate must go to the necessary heirs, such as a surviving spouse, descendants, older family members and indirect relatives. The other half goes to whomever the decree specifies. However, if the court declares the will invalid, the estate’s entirety goes to the necessary heirs. 

Minimal inheritance restrictions 

The same rules apply to foreign companies and individuals it does citizens when it comes to acquiring real estate, with a few exceptions. If you inherit foreign property or administer a will that has real estate that falls under one of those exceptions, you must sell it.