Spanish inheritance regulations are hard to follow; not because the law is not clear, but because of the great amount of them. In this blog post, we want to answer the question clearly about who actually inherits in Spain. So, let’s get started!
Children – descendants – parents – ascendants
In Spain when someone dies, their properties are divided in three shares. Two of the three will go mandatorily to the children or descendants of the deceased person.
The first third is divided equally between the children. Let’s say that someone has three children. For a property of nine (monetary unit), the first third would be three. Then, this third of the property will be equally divided by the three children. As a result, they will get one each.
The second third should also go to the children, but the grantor can state in the will the proportion each child will receive. Following with the above example, the second third has a value of three. The grantor can state in the will that the second third all goes to the oldest child. As a consequence, one child receives three, while the others do not receive anything. In total, the first child will receive four, while the other two children will receive one.
The final third can be left to anyone. Typically, it is left to the spouse and other family members. In our case, the grantor could decide that one third goes to the widow and the other two thirds go to the oldest child. The final result will be the widow getting one, the eldest child getting seven and the other two children getting one each.
This regulation has as consequence that sometimes the widow or widower doesn’t receive much. However, the grantor can state in his will that the widow/er has the right to usufruct the property.
The usufruct means that the widow/er will have the right to use the property, but won’t actually own it. So the property will be distributed according to the regulation, but until the widow/er dies, he or she will be able to use it. This offers an important protection for those that are economically dependent or too old to work.
While Spain has a national regulation stated in Título III del Libro III del Código civil “De las sucesiones; several regions have their own regulations. These regions are: Aragón, Baleares, Cataluña, Extremadura, Galicia, Navarra, País Vasco, and Valencia.
Notice that this is just for inheritance. Succession tax also has several different regulations depending on the region.