What is the Central Registry of Wills in Spain?

The Central Registry of Wills is officially called Registro de Actos de Última Voluntad. Its main mission is to guarantee the knowledge of the existence of a will once the person that made that will has died.

The Registry also accepts foreign wills, so the will does not need to be made in Spain to be registered. However, taking into consideration the low price of making a will for the Spanish affairs and the variety of issues that it can solve, it is highly recommended to make a Will that is specifically for Spain for practical reasons.

How can I get my will registered?

Spanish regulations accept wills written by hand by the testator (the will maker), or wills made with the intervention of a notary. In this last case, the notary will send the will to the registry once it is finished.

Take into consideration that registering your will does not guarantee it will be followed. In order for that to happen, the will needs to comply with Spanish regulations. Thus, having the will made with the help of our professional team which would include a Spanish notary where necessary is the most practical option, and thus when the time comes the Spanish probate will be much simpler.

It is very common to find invalid wills written by hand and without professional help. If the testator decides to make the will with notary intervention, he or she has two options:

  • Have a ‘closed’ will, so the notary only assures that this will is genuine and can send it to the Central Registry of Wills, this in itself is fraught with problems
  • Have the will made by our professional team which can include the services of a notary where necessary, so we can advise the testator to put everything in order and make sure the will is legal.

Once you decide to make a will, the second option is the safest if you want to be sure that the will is valid. Once the will is made, nobody will have access to it until you die, and the notary cannot show it to anyone. The Will is only withdrawn when required for the probate in Spain.

What are the most common issues with Spanish wills?

Issues can arise from two aspects: Format or content.

Format issues are usually related to wills written by hand. They have to be clean, without crossing-outs, and they have to be signed on every page, along with some other rules.

Content issues are usually related to the obligation by Spanish regulations to leave inheritance to the children of the testator; it is not possible, for example, to leave everything to the widow/er.

How to find out if a will exists

We can assist with enquiries to the Central Registry of Wills for a ‘Certificate of last will’ (Certificados de actos de última voluntad ) if someone has made a will, call us for more advice.

We can obtain information for you including the place and date of the will and the name of the notary who prepared the Will. We can then help to obtain probate in Spain.

To make an enquiry, we will need a Death Certificate and there is a small fee to pay.

Once we have obtained this information, we can approach the notary to ask for a certified copy of the will. Note only the heirs have the right to get such a copy. So, while we can find out if a will exists and if someone has made a will, only the heirs will have access to the will and as mentioned above only once the testator has died.

What happens then?

Probate in Spain is not an easy process. Once you know the will exists, you will have to accept the inheritance, collect it, and pay the taxes that are generated. There are some circumstances that will allow you not to pay the taxes, or at least not the total amount.

Call us now for all your Spanish probate issues, and we will help you throughout!

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