Expats' Corner March 22, 2023 | 9:30 am

Inheritance for Expats in the Dominican Republic

If you are a foreigner planning to buy property in the Dominican Republic and have children, you must understand Dominican law regarding inheritance. As with any other country, estate planning and how you want to distribute your assets in the event of your death are important and will help you avoid disputes among your heirs.

Under Dominican law, when it comes to the distribution of your assets upon your death, forced heirship (or reserva hereditaria) takes precedence.

Force heirship means your surviving spouse and children (male and female) have the right to inherit your physical and non-physical assets. For example, if you had a spouse and one child, your estate would be divided by 50% between your spouse and child. Or 33% if there is a spouse, two children, etc.

It is possible to disinherit a child, but you must present your case before a family court as to why the child should be disinherited, and the judge must rule in your favor.

It’s also important to note for expats or retirees living in the DR that if you have a will in place in your home country, it must be registered in the DR to be enforceable. Otherwise, under Dominican law, the law of the expat’s last place of residence takes precedence. And, again, if your will excludes one of your heirs, you must present your case as to why to the Dominican family courts.

The general process of inheritance is as follows:

1. The heirs must pay inheritance tax on the property, currently 3% for both, heirs who are citizens or non-citizens.
2. Documentation (birth certificates, death certificates, and will, if applicable) proving the relationship between the potential heir and the deceased is presented to the courts.
3. Once the court validates the documents and has proof of payment of inheritance tax on the estate, it will authorize the right to proceed and conduct a survey.
4. Your attorney will deposit a new file with the Registry Office so new titles can be made available.
5. Multiple properties (home or land) titles will be distributed among each heir according to the instructions of the will or Dominican law if there is no will.

Heirs will often sell the property and divide the proceeds equally as stipulated by Dominican law versus splitting a house two or three ways. However, if you desire your property to remain in the family, you want to plan accordingly or consider holding your property in a business entity.

A local attorney specializing in real estate and estate law in the DR will be able to advise you on the best way to proceed.


Maria Abreu is the CEO and Managing Attorney of Abreu & Associates, a law firm practicing exclusively in Dominican Republic Immigration and Nationality law. She is also the founder of Retire and Invest DR. This organization hosts conference events for foreigners interested in living, retiring, and investing in the DR. You can contact Maria at: mabreu@abreuimmigration.com.

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Alfredo Acosta
March 23, 2023 2:26 pm

I was just discussing this with a family member in DR and she said the exact same thing about the Doogie of assets in the event that someone passes away…

Paul Tierney
March 24, 2023 11:07 pm

Always consult a reputable attorney, if you can find one.