Since Uruguayan law assures an estate goes to a deceased person's children, and Uruguay does not have a significant inheritance tax, most Uruguayans don't bother to make a will.
However, there are still valid reasons for making a will in Uruguay to cover just specific Uruguayan assets or a will with worldwide application.
Legal guidelines for wills in Uruguay
By Uruguayan law, if a person has a single child, then they can only give away 50 percent of their estate to other entities. If they have two children, then the percentage drops to 33 percent. And if they have three or more children, the limit is 25 percent.
In Uruguay, a spouse/partner is not a statutory heir, although he/she does have the right to live in the matrimonial home for the rest of his/her life (until he/she remarries) or receive a similar (but not exactly the same) share to that of the children.
Reasons to have a will in Uruguay
- If you do not have children, you are free to leave all your estate to whoever you wish. You will probably want to ensure that the estate does not go to the Uruguayan government!
- If you want to leave the part of your estate that you are allowed to dispose of freely to other than your children, e.g., by giving it to charity.
- If you want to make better provision for your spouse/partner by giving them a specific share.
- If you have assets outside Uruguay, which are not governed by Uruguayan law, so that you can dispose of them freely (or in accordance with the law of the country where the assets are located). In this situation, the general solution is to make a specific individual will for each country where a person has assets, but since now it is quite common for people to move assets from one jurisdiction to another, a will with a worldwide application is a reasonable possibility.
- If you want to appoint a specific person as Executor (e.g., a lawyer/accountant) to ensure that your estate is dealt with properly and as far as possible limiting any disputes between heirs.
There is no inheritance tax in Uruguay, save that a tax of 3% of the rateable value (usually considerably less than the market value) of any real estate is payable within one year of the death of the owner, rising to 4% if there are no legal descendants (or parents).
(And as mentioned, because there is no inheritance tax per se, wills are not used much as an instrument of tax planning.)
Trusts are recognised in Uruguayan law, but not in the same form as common law countries, so they are not really used in wills or otherwise by physical persons.
There are a lot of formalities involved in signing and registering a will, so costs are considerably higher than in common law countries, such as England and most of the US and Canada.
The above provides some good reasons for making a will here, despite the costs involved. In a future article, we will cover some more specific situations such as a spouse or partner's rights, and the possibility of making a living will.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.