The European Network of Registers of Wills Association


Registering and searching for wills

- What are the principal forms of will in Portugal?

* the authentic will (or “public will”), drawn up by a civil law notary.

* the closed will, written by the testator or by a third party. A closed will must be approved by the civil law notary.

* the international will, signed before two witnesses and a civil law notary.

- Does a register of will exist in Portugal?

Yes, there is a register, administered by the Ministry of Justice. It is not computerized. The Portuguese Notariat is currently creating its own register of wills which shall be computerized.

1.The registration of a will

- Why register a will?

The civil law notary must register the wills which he is cognizant of in the register. However, a will which is not found is deemed to be a non-existent will.This is why the recording of the will in the register is mandatory. In this way, the testator can be sure that his last wishes will be found and therefore respected following his death.

- Who can carry out the registration?

The civil law notary carries out the registration of wills. In effect, all forms of will require the involvement of a notary, to draw up the deed or to approve it.It is not the content of the will which is registered in the register but the information which enables the will to be found.

- Who keeps the will?

The civil law notary is in charge of keeping the authentic, international and closed wills confided to him by the testator.

- Can the testator’s family members consult the register while he is still alive?

No, the existence of a will and its content shall remain a secret during the entire life of the testator.

- How much does it cost to register a will?

Registration of wills is free of charge.

2.The search for the wills

- Who may query the register of wills?

Upon the death of the testator, the deceased’s family may query the register of wills themselves or through a law professional (civil law notary, judge, lawyer). This query is not mandatory but it is however recommended in order to ensure that the last wishes of the testator are respected.

- Is it necessary to provide a death certificate?

Yes, the testator’s family must provide a death certificate in order to be able to carry out a search. This measure enables to ensure that the existence of the will remains secret during the testator’s life.

- How much does a search cost?

Search queries made orally to the notary are free of charge but the issuance of document taken from the register costs 23 €.


15 June 2012
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by the European Union