Is Spanish Law Applicable to your Property? Do you need a Spanish Will?

1. Overview

Although it is unpleasant to think about death, it has a nasty way of coming on suddenly and unexpectedly and the very last thing that is wanted is to have to deal with difficult bureaucracy at a time of bereavement; and what’s far worse, in a country where you may neither speak the language, nor have local connections and have not knowledge of legal issues. It is advisable that foreigners who are residing in Spain make a Spanish will disposing of their assets, in order to avoid time-consuming and simplify legal formalities for their heirs, who may or may not live in Spain.

When a foreign European national who resides in Spain dies intestate, Spanish law must be applied to his inheritance (with the exception of UK, Ireland and Denmark nationals). Be aware that Spanish laws of succession are different from those in other countries, according to Spanish common law, the deceased in Spain must leave two thirds of his estate to his compulsory heirs. Compulsory heirs can be either his children, parents or the spouse, if any.

Notwithstanding, if a foreign testator makes a will , he can bequeath his assets to anyone he pleases as long as the laws of his home country permit so.

In other terms, although the Spanish law provides that the estate of any foreigner residing in Spain is subject to Spanish inheritance law, in practice foreigners who are residents will find no problem in making a separate will bequeathing their property to any person they please, according with their own national law.

2. About your Spanish Will

Spanish wills are normally granted in Spanish language, notwithstanding, your Spanish will can be made out in two columns, one in Spanish and one in your own language. The text of your own language must be duly approved by an official translator.

Your will is recorded on the files of the Central registry of Spanish wills. You will probably need the assistance of a Spanish Lawyer to understand and complete the process of granting a will.

Make sure that there are no conflicts between your Spanish will and your will granted abroad, if any. Be aware that according to Spanish law, new will revokes the previous one granted, there is no need to include a clause in the new will stating that this replaces the last one made.

If you are not Spanish national, you have total freedom to grant your will choosing your home country laws on succession to be the applicable ones. If you are not confident that your will is to be executed as you have written it, you should seek the advice of a Spanish lawyer. There are legitimate ways to get round the bite. It is possible, for instance, to transfer the title of your Spanish property to your close-knit family member and maintain the usufruct over the property to use it during your lifetime.

3. Get Legal Help

Purchase the following pre-packaged legal services delivered by our team of Spanish lawyers for a fixed one-off price:

» Will Preparation/Review, € 145
» Ask an English-speaking Spanish lawyer about inheritance law in Spain

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