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  • Writer's pictureJoana Wheeler

Inheritance Certificate: how it`s done and what it`s for

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

The Inheritance Certificate is essential to prevent disputes about how to divide up the assets after a loved one passes away. Learn the steps involved, the purpose, and the associated costs.


When a person passes away and there are assets to be distributed, one of the most crucial processes is the inheritance certificate. It is a very easy process that makes it possible to identify heirs and guarantees that the assets left behind are registered in their names.


It is advised even if it is not required. It facilitates the transfer of bank accounts where the deceased person was the primary account holder, ensuring that tax responsibilities relating to inherited assets are satisfied, and helps to prevent future disputes amongst heirs.


This is one of the tasks assumed by the spouse or eldest child is the inheritance certificate, or "Cabeça de Casal." This individual is in charge of the inheritance while it is still an undivided inheritance and not divided among the heirs. As a result, they will have to deal with some administrative problems, such as this process.


Where and when to get the Inheritance Certificate


The Inheritance Certificate is a declaration that names the heirs and establishes that no other people are eligible to receive the inheritance. In its most complicated version, it enables each inheritor to continue holding assets that are registered in his or her name.


The process can be done in the Finance office and in Notories, you can find your nearest one here.


It is understandable that you would want to put off dealing with these kinds of problems while you are in mourning. By the end of the third month following the death, the Inheritance Certificate must be registered, nonetheless. If you fail to comply within this time frame, you can incur penalties in addition to potential challenges, like being unable to access bank accounts.


Making an appointment and knowing where you need to go are crucial. However, it is crucial to comprehend the type of inheritance certificate you require and what is required in each situation.


Types of Inheritance Certificate


There are 3 types of Inheritance Certificates:

  1. Simple inheritance certificates;

  2. Certificate with registration of inheritance assets;

  3. Certificate with registration of inheritance assets and sharing of assets;

Let's see what each one consists of:


1. Simple Certificate of Inheritence


The so-called simple Inheritance Certificate attests that specified individuals are the deceased's heirs and that no other person has or is eligible to claim an inheritance.

There are other costs in addition to the 150€ base price. For instance, husband-and-wife heirs' documents must be verified for an additional 50€, and database verifications range from 10€ to 20€.


The will or the deed of donation by death, if any, must be shown in addition to all of the responsible party's identifying documents and the death certificate.


2. Certificate with registration of inheritance assets


This process is more difficult. The assets that make up the undivided inheritance are shown together with the names of the heirs.


Before scheduling the inheritance certificate in this case, the services (finances or notaries) review the application and supporting documentation and confirm a number of details, including the decedent's death, the identity of his or her heirs, the ownership of the property, and the manner in which the properties are registered with the finance office (Portal das Finanças).


They will then specify the required paperwork and set a date and time for heirs to be registered. This must happen within 7 to 10 working days, but depending on how complicated the procedure is, it can take longer.


The price is higher because this is a more time-consuming process. The minimum value is 375€, plus the fees for registering the products (only the first item in each category is included in the cost) and verifying additional information.


How much does the registration of assets cost?


The amount of 375€ includes the registration of properties, vehicles or shareholdings. However, you will have to pay, for each good, in addition to the first:

  • 30€ per property, quota or shareholding;

  • 20€ for each movable good;

  • 15€ if it is a moped or motorcycle, tricycle or quadricycle with a cylinder of not more than 50 cm3.

The limit is 30.000€.


3. Certificate with registration of inheritance assets and sharing of assets;


The inheritance is divided in this option, together with the identification of the heirs and the appropriate registration of the assets. To put it another way, the assets are divided up so that each heir receives the share to which he or she is legally entitled.


If there are assets or shareholdings in the inheritance that are subject to registration, only then may the inheritance certificate and sharing be registered.


In this instance, identifying the assets and rights of the deceased, as well as their valuations, is important in addition to the documents for the identification of the offender and their heirs.


The starting price is 425€. Then there are additional fees for records and database searches, such as for marriage or birth records, real estate, cars, or business records.


Does the existence of a will override the inheritance certificate?


The inheritance certificate is still required regardless of the presence of a will. One's desire for his possessions to be dispersed a certain way is expressed in a will. However, the next of kin must always get a portion of the inheritance (the so-called lawful quota), in a specific order.


However, the inheritance certificate can only be issued if the heirs concur on their condition (i.e., that no other people are eligible to inherit) and, in the case of the qualification with sharing, if they concur on how the division of assets is to be carried out.


What is the difference between public will and a closed will?


When a will is drafted and entered by the notary in their registration book, it becomes public. A closed will is one that was drafted by the deceased or someone at his request (such as a solicitor).


Nevertheless, the Civil Code mandates that a closed will requires a notary's approval, and the date of that approval serves as the will's effective date.


A closed will can be maintained by the maker, given to someone else, or lodged in a notary public's office. Within three days of learning of the death, whomever is in possession of the document must provide it to the notary.

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