Effective Possession in Ecuador is Obligatory for Heirs of Deceased Expats

Jan 23, 2023 | 0 comments

When a family member who owns property in Ecuador dies, naturally it’s a very sad time for all, one wrought with decisions of what to do with the decedent’s remains, aside from all of the emotion felt at the time of their passing.

As a secondary or even tertiary matter, the conversation of how to secure the assets of the deceased family member, particularly as it relates to their Ecuadorian property located anywhere in the country, whether in the form of bank accounts, real estate and other hard assets (aside from things like furniture, jewelry and other collections).

This process does in fact have a name, which in English is referred to as “Effective Possession”, and it’s required of all heirs (regardless of location or nationality) and entails recording the rightful heirs’ actual ownership and transfer ability of their decedent family member’s possessions to their own person(s).

What will I need in order to complete the “Effective Possession” process in Ecuador?

  1. Death Certificate of the deceased Expat (if deceased in Ecuador then no Apostille/Legalization is necessary, though otherwise if deceased outside of Ecuador then with Apostille/Legalization certainly is necessary).
  2. A copy of the identity card of deceased Expat (i.e. Ecuadorian Cedula) or Foreign/Ecuadorian Passport.
  3. A copy of each identity card of the rightful heirs (i.e. Ecuadorian Cedula) or Foreign/Ecuadorian Passport(s).
  4. Birth Certificate with Apostille/Legalization and if applicable any current Marriage Certificate with Apostille/Legalization (as applicable to any/each heir and/or spouse) – with these specific documents, the family relationship(s) that the heirs have with the deceased Expat will be properly shown.
  5. Proof of assets that exist in Ecuador, such as, duly registered real estate deeds, vehicle registrations, bank account details, plus the relevant proofs of any other investments domiciled in Ecuador.
  6. Special requirements include a Lien Certificate (if/how applicable), which must be obtained through a process with the Property Registry office in the applicable Canton where any real estate is located/owned, respectively.
  7. Inheritance tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service (SRI) of Ecuador.

* Special requirements per the immediate above can also include things such as any relevant Lien Certificates, foreign Will documents, etc., though generally the above are the most typically required documents that need to be provided for any Effective Possession to occur.

If you want to request the procedure be performed on your behalf with respect to your deceased family member, you’ll need a Power of Attorney that has been properly executed, such as an Ecuadorian Attorney representing you and/or any other rightful heirs in respect of the property that your deceased family member held in Ecuador up until their passing.

Once you have gone through the Effective Possession process as advised above, you as well as any other rightful heirs along with you are then able to own and utilize the property which has been transferred in ownership to you and/or them, in addition to of course being able to convey, sell or otherwise transfer the property to any other willing buyer in or per Ecuador.

Rarely does a single day go by where I am not contacted by a foreigner heir who has been met with the loss of their Expat family member in Ecuador, and so the Effective Possession process is one which I am highly experienced in and thus handle all manner of it and related situations on behalf of my foreigner clients per the same.

In your time of need, I am here for you and your family, and of course I provide a free consultation for any heir(s) who has/have found themselves in need of beginning an Effective Possession process so as to deal with the past and present holdings of their deceased Expat family member so as to move on into an always hopefully brighter future ahead for them and the rest of their family.


Sara Chaca (Attorney - Abogada) is a seasoned Ecuadorian Lawyer, who principally serves Expats in making their moves to Ecuador for Visa and Legal matter purposes, as her Expat clients begin their new lives here in her beautiful country. Sara resides in Cuenca with her family, and when not working, she enjoys spending time with her family in Cuenca’s majestic Cajas Mountains, including the many local parks & fairs of Cuenca, plus visiting the coast as well as many gem towns of Ecuador. Sara’s personal email address is sara@ecuadorvisas.com and her law office's fully informative website is www.ecuadorvisas.com - her Ecuadorian cell phone number is 099-296-2065 and her Toll Free "800" phone number for US & Canadian callers is 1-(800)-655-1581. Sara has a less than 24 hour first response policy, in that if you email or call her, she WILL return your first email or first phone call in less than 24 hours (more typically in closer to 24 minutes!). Most importantly, all first time consultations with Expats for any type Visa or Legal matter(s) are always FREE OF CHARGE. VIEW ATTORNEY SARA CHACA'S SELF-PUBLISHED "KINDLE" BOOK ON MOVING TO ECUADOR, THAT'S AVAILABLE FOR YOUR PERUSAL ON AMAZON.COM HERE.