Who Has the Right to Inherit in Spain?
If you want to make a will to distribute your goods after your death, you may want to be aware that Spanish succession regulations are not very flexible, nor are they easy. When someone dies, the law requires that all siblings have the right to receive a specific part of the inheritance.
Notice that from here on the text does not claim to be exhaustive. If you want to know about your specific case, call us and we will be pleased to help.
To be clear, one can voluntarily waiver the inheritance, but what one cannot do is, for example, leave everything to the spouse as inheritance. In this second case, the law forces the distribution of the inheritance among the widow and the descendants.
The largest beneficiaries of an inheritance in Spain are the children or their descendants when the children are dead. They have the right to receive 2/3 of the inheritance. 1/3 should be distributed with equality among the children, and the second third can be unequally distributed. This second third is called “mejora” (improvement) and if there is no will or the will does not state anything about it, it will be automatically equally distributed among the children. This third can be left to anyone the deceased wanted. In case the will does not say anything about the third part, it will be added to the other two thirds to be equally distributed
What Are the Rights of the Widow/er?
The widow has not got the right to inheritance per se, but they can be assigned by means of the will. Since 2/3 belong to the descendants, the widow will only receive the remaining third, but only if the will states that. As a result, in practice the real inheritance of the spouse can be very small, especially taking into consideration that ageing people tend to need more money to keep a good quality of life.
In general, Spanish laws give the option to leave the widow the right to use (known as a usufruct) some goods, for example, people typically leave their spouse the right to use (a usufruct in) their home. In English law we would usually call this a life interest. In this case, the children will be the owners and their rights will be respected, but they will not be able to use or sell the property until the widow dies. Note that the widow can even rent the property and receive income from it, so it is not necessary for them to live in the property.
If there are no children but there are ascendants, i.e. parents, then the widow has the right to the usufruct of half of the inheritance.
If you want your spouse to continue using your matrimonial home once you die, it is very important to make a will in a manner that it protects your partner’s interests as much as possible.
What About the Rest of the Relatives?
Other descendants: If there are no living children, but there are grandchildren or other descendants, these descendants will have the right to receive the same proportion that their parent would have had. This part of the inheritance that would correspond to their parent is divided equally between them.
Siblings: If there is a will and the will distribution does not leave anything to them, instead leaving everything to other people, siblings will not have the right to receive anything. However, if there is not a will, siblings will have rights in case there is not a spouse, ascendants or descendants.
What am I Going to Receive?
The law does not focus on specific goods or assets, but on the value of them. If there is a house with a value of 120,000, this is the inheritance. Also, take into consideration that before the inheritance is distributed, it will be necessary to split the assets in the marriage? Rather than dissolute (dissolve) the partnership of the marriage. This means that the 50 % of the spouse’s joint property will go to the living spouse, not as inheritance but because that was already theirs.
But there is more…
Does it seem complicated? To add to this, there are some regions with special regulations.
That is why in almost every case, the best option is to make a will and rely on a professional expert in inheritance and succession regulations.
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