Publication of a witnessed will

portada publicacion de testamento otorgado ante testigos

The Legal Affairs portal defines a will as “a unilateral and solemn act by means of which a person establishes the manner of disposing of his assets at the time of his death, so that it is his autonomy and not the law, to the extent permitted by the legal system, which establishes who, what and how the surviving assets are to be received by him.”

In Colombia there are different types of wills:

  1. Open: it is made before a notary and three witnesses and the content of the will is known by them.
  2. Closed: the content of the will is not known neither by the notary nor by the witnesses, its knowledge is given after the death of the testator.
  3. Nuncupative: it is performed in the presence of five witnesses in case there is no notary.

For the last type of will, in places where there is no notary or where there is no notary public, the will may be executed before five witnesses who meet the qualifications required by law, namely:

  1. The person must be over 18 years of age.
  2. That he/she is of sound mind, i.e., not altered by drunkenness or any other cause.
  3. That he/she is in a condition to express his/her will clearly.

For the publication of this will it will be necessary to make an application before the Judge of the place where it was granted, and to provide the written document containing the will together with the proof of the testator’s death. Subsequently, the judge will order the summoning of the witnesses in order to recognize their signatures and that of the testator.

After the hearing, if applicable, the judge will declare the will nuncupative and will proceed to initial all the pages of the will, indicating the date on which he does so, to leave a copy of the proceedings in his file and to notarize the file in a local notary’s office.

If the signatures of the testator or of the witnesses are not recognized or duly credited, or if it does not appear from the declarations that said act is the testament of the testator, the judge shall declare that the document does not have the character of a nuncupative testament, without prejudice that the matter be heard in a process of knowledge, with the hearing of those who would have the character of intestate heirs or testamentary by virtue of a previous testament.

This procedure is free of charge and does not require the representation of an attorney.