Inheriting Property in Madeira

edited September 2015 in Real Estate
My Father had property in Madeira. He died and left no will. He did leave a document stating his girlfriend could stay in the house until she dies. Is there any way around this document? Do I have to wait until she dies to claim property? If I move to Madeira to become a permanent resident does she have to vacate property? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you, Manuel Ferreira


  • Hey Manuel

    There are hundreds of these kind of situations, which mostly stem from the massive "exodus" of emmigrants in the 1900 - 1950s where alot of residents left Madeira to start lives in other places.

    There are laws and rules in Madeira which were created for just such scenarios, but the one that will affect your situation is that any land that has been used or in use by soemone for more than 20 years, with no other "claim" during that time, will basically belong to that person if they decide to "claim" that land or dispute your claim.

    The reason for this was that many immigrants never return and the land sits idle.
    There was also a massive influx of descendants and children and family of the original immigrants who return to madeira to claim their "inheritance" and due to someone else using that land for the last 20 or 30 years, there were a whole lot of disagreements and legal issues.
    Therefore, they had to implement this ruling.

    I have a similar situation where my fathers family has land in Madeira, and I wanted to obtain that inheritance, but since my father left madeira in 1949, he legally has no claim on the land at all, and I am at the mercy of the family that is currently left there as they have full right on the whole lot.

    To be honest, you need to find out the current ownership of the land via the council to see who is the registered owner and from this, you will then need to establish whether it is worth it or not.

    90% of the time, it is not worth the legal issues and arguments that may arise.

    Also, it is only in the last few decades that proper record of ownership was implemented. Before that, people knew who had what land and where it was. Nothing was formally recorded and if it was, its a very vague 2 line description of the land.
    (I had a researcher obtain my grandfathers "inventoria" list from the archives.)

    You can also check the Madeira Archives (Arquivo de Madeira (RAM)) online, to see if there is some form of record, or ancestral trail, as there is sometimes a list of all land that is created when someone passes away.

    Hope this helps you to some degree.


    Manuel Ribeiro
  • Hi All

    Who would be the very best person to contact in order to help me find my parents pieces of lands in and around Faja Da Ovelha. I have all the documents with Artigo number, the person that owns the land on the east, south, north & west.
    Just need this to be put under my name stating where they are located and an erf /Artigo number of some kind so that I can sell these properties and by a lockup & go in Funchal.

    Can anyone help me P L E A S E !!!!!!

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