When are wills for expats living in Spain recommended?

There are two typical situations in which someone may wonder if it is a good idea to make a will in Spain:

  • Foreign citizen that is resident in Spain
  • Foreign citizen that is not resident in Spain, but has properties there.

We can testify that, in both cases, making a will would be a good idea because the price of making a will is not very high and makes things much easier. Furthermore, Spanish regulations require that you leave a set share of the property to your spouse and children. In other words, under Spanish regulations you cannot leave everything to your spouse and nothing to your sons. Let’s see these two cases separately.

Wills for expats that are resident in Spain

If you are a resident in Spain or if you have a TIE card (official identification card for foreigners in Spain), you have the right to decide which country’s law ‒ England or Spain ‒ will apply to your property when it comes to inheritance. In order to do so, you need to state which regulation you want to apply to your inheritance by a European Certificate of Succession, regulated by the Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament. ???

Though there are a couple of exceptions, if you do not have a will the most likely result is that your properties will be distributed under Spanish regulations.

Call us now and get this problem solved by experts in both Spanish and UK law!

Will for expats that have properties in Spain, but are not residents

When you are not a resident, having a will can make a very convenient difference. The biggest issue for a non-resident pertaining to Spanish inheritance is the deadlines to pay Spanish inheritance tax. No matter what laws will apply to the property distribution, heirs will still need to pay Spanish taxes and they only have six months to do it.

Does this seem enough?

Maybe it is, but there is some paperwork needed in order to receive the inheritance. For example, the heirs will need to obtain an NIE number, and if the will is not a Spanish one it will need to be legalised, with proof that it is the last will made, and an official Spanish translation of the will must be made before it is apostilled (certified). When you face this process, the differences between UK and Spanish laws appear. Spanish laws are based on the Latin system which give a great deal of authority and responsibility to notaries. Whereas in the UK a will is a private act, in Spain it is made public by a notary and a will made in this way is called an open will. As a result, Spanish authorities have a high standard of proof that a will is legitimate. In many cases the grant of probate can be used for that, but there are cases in which the expat has been living in Spain for many years and has sold all his property in the UK, so a grant of probate is not possible. Having a Spanish will is well worth the effort, particularly in such cases.

In short, taking into consideration that making a will is easy enough and not very costly, even if you still have property in the UK and you do not think you will sell them, making a Spanish will is a good idea.

Does a Spanish will affect all my property?

Some people do not want to make a will in Spain because they think it will compromise the rest of their property. However, this is not true. If you want, you can ask your Spanish notary to make a will that only affects your properties in Spain. The main requirement for this is that the Spanish will and the other will do not contradict or invalidate each other: They should not say different things.

Thus, it is important that you get your Spanish will done by someone who also knows UK regulations.

Do not worry, we work with experts in both Spanish and UK succession regulations. We can help to make the process easy and fast. Just call us now, and you can ask us about your queries without any obligation.

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