Inheritance in Colombia: everything you need to know

portada suceciones en colombia

Inheritance is an issue that should be kept in mind in order to avoid problems and family disputes. Successions arise upon the death of a person, and are made for the purpose of distributing the assets and liabilities of the deceased (called causator) among the heirs (called causahabitants).

There is a lot of ignorance about everything involved in inheritance, so there are also many problems when it comes to the paperwork or distribution.

That is why we want to talk to you about everything related to inheritance and how it works in Colombia.

What are inheritances in Colombia?

As mentioned above, when a person dies, he/she leaves all his/her estate behind, which is made up of his/her assets, but also of his/her debts; by means of inheritance, the aim is to distribute in an equitable manner or, depending on what the person left in his/her will before death, all the estate among the persons who may have access to such distribution.

In Colombia, inheritance can be done through a notary, if there is a will or there is an agreement between the heirs, or through a judge, if there is no agreement or will. Both cases will be explained below.

What are the requirements for a succession in Colombia?

  • Authenticated power of attorney from the heirs and surviving spouse to the attorney at law.
  • Request and inheritance inventory. Work of partition and adjudication with its respective annexes.
  • Authentic copy of the Civil Registry of death of the deceased.
  • Authentic copy of the Civil Registry of marriage of the deceased (if applicable).
  • Authentic copy of the Civil Registry of birth of the heirs.
  • Copies of the deeds of the decedent’s real estate (if applicable).
  • Certificates of freedom and tradition of the real estate of the deceased, with date of issue not older than 30 days.
  • Tax receipts (current year’s property tax and valuation clearance).

What types of inheritance are there in Colombia?

The law contemplates three types of inheritance in Article 1009 of
article 1009
of the Colombian Civil Code:

"If one succeeds by virtue of a will, the succession is called testamentary, and if by virtue of law, intestate or abintestato. Succession to the estate of a deceased person may be part testamentary and part intestate."

Testamentary succession

This succession is originated when the person expresses in a conscientious manner and, complying with all the formalities indicated by law, how he/she wishes to distribute his/her assets among the heirs.

This type of inheritance is carried out before a notary, who will be in charge of ensuring the fulfillment and distribution of the assets as they were left in the will.

The heirs, now called legatees, receive the assets in a singular title, that is to say, they receive the specific asset or assets, for example, a house, a cow, a car, a piece of land, etc.

To prove the quality of legatee, the person must present the following documents.

  • Certified copy of the death certificate.
  • Civil registry of birth of the heirs.
  • Authentic copy of the marriage registration if married or otherwise declaration of marital union.
  • Copies of public deeds of the real estate owned by the deceased.
  • Certificates of freedom and tradition of such properties.

Intestate succession

Also known as intestate, it arises when the person did not leave a will during his lifetime, or, if he did, it did not comply with the formalities required by law, and was denied.

In this case, the succession takes place before a judge, who will be in charge of reviewing the assets and making the inventory, liquidating them and distributing them among the heirs according to the law.

The heirs, at the beginning, possess the assets in a universal title, that is to say, they are owners of everything and at the same time they are not, for this reason, the judge must auction the assets, pay the debts left by the deceased, and finally distribute the surplus to the heirs according to the provisions of the law.

For these procedures, the following documents are required by law:

  • Death certificate.
  • Civil birth records of the beneficiaries.

Mixed succession

This type of succession occurs when a part of the assets were distributed in a will, but, at the same time, left assets outside this will.

When this type of will takes place, in a first part, a notary is in charge of enforcing the distribution of the assets among the heirs.

Once this part is finished, the rest of the assets will be distributed through the same process of an intestate succession.


What is recommended in a succession in Colombia?

  • If the deceased was married, first the liquidation of the marital partnership must be made, that is to say that the spouse of the deceased is entitled to 50% of what the deceased has left.
  • If the assets left by the deceased exceed 15 minimum legal salaries in force, it is necessary to grant a GENERAL POWER OF ATTORNEY to an attorney to carry out the procedure.
  • If one of the heirs does not agree with the succession or with the portion that corresponds to him/her, the process must be made through the court, the same happens if an illegitimate heir appears.

To summarize, inheritances originate as a way to preserve a person’s estate, but also to ensure the payment of debts left by the person.

In Colombia, the majority of inheritances generally take place by intestate succession, either due to the lack of knowledge of the law, the requirements it demands, or the costs involved in making a valid will.

In legal service,
we are experts in family law
and we can help you, accompanying you in the process of succession or inheritance proceedings, whether testate or intestate. If you need help with your processes, you can contact us through our website by
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