Whether you own a property in Spain and need to plan for the future or have inherited a property in Spain following the death of a loved one, getting to grips with Spanish inheritance law is essential.
The way inheritance works in Spain is not the same as in the UK, so it is important to understand what to expect and what you need to do. If you are resident in the UK, you also need to consider how the inheritance laws of both countries will interact to make sure you are meeting all of your legal obligations and do not end up making a costly mistake, especially in relation to inheritance tax.
Given the complexities involved in dealing with Spanish property inheritance, we strongly recommend seeking specialist advice from property lawyers with expertise in both Spanish and UK law.
At Judicare, our highly experienced team can advise you on the key issues you need to consider in relation to Spanish inheritance law, including:
- Who stands to inherit under Spanish law
- Making a Spanish Will
- Spanish inheritance tax
- UK inheritance tax liability for Spanish property
- Inheriting Spanish property as a UK resident
- Selling property you have inherited in Spain
For specific advice on inheritance for Spanish property tailored to your situation, please get in touch with our friendly, expert Spanish property lawyers based in the UK.
Common questions about Spanish property inheritance
Who inherits a property in Spain when you die?
This will depend on a number of factors including where you are resident when you die and also whether you have left a Will that deals with your Spanish assets. It is a common misconception that as a foreigner you have to leave your assets in accordance with Spanish law, which imposes certain “forced heirs”. Making a Will can mean that you do not have to follow the Forced heirship laws.
Do I need to make a Spanish Will for a property in Spain?
A “foreigner” that is resident in Spain can make a Spanish Will leaving his own property to the person of their choice. Anyone who is not resident in Spain but owns property there can also do so. In order to do this the Will must contain a declaration that their personal law is governed by the principle of free disposition of property by testament. This is then acceptable to the Central Wills Registry in Spain.
If a foreign resident dies domiciled in Spain without a Will, the estate will be distributed according to Spanish law. Domicile is not the same as Tax Residence.
Do I have to pay inheritance tax in Spain and the UK for a Spanish property?
Inheritance tax on property or assets in Spain has to be paid in Spain, but only if the amount being inherited is above certain thresholds. The property or assets also have to be declared back in the UK although due to Double Taxation Laws you can offset the tax paid in Spain against the tax payable in the UK.
Under Spanish law, it is the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate that are liable for inheritance tax, rather than the estate itself. The tax must be paid within 6 months of the date of death, although you can request a 6-month extension if you do so within 5 months of the date of death.
Can I inherit property in Spain if I live in the UK?
Yes, but if you are not a resident of Spain you will first need a Spanish tax identity number (known as a Numero de Identidad de Extranjeros or ‘NIE’) in order to be able to register the property in your name.
How quickly can I sell a property in Spain I have inherited?
This depends on the circumstances. To be able to sell the property, you must first register your ownership with the Spanish Land Registry. As mentioned above, you will need to register for a Spanish tax identity number before you can register your ownership.
How much inheritance tax will I need to pay on a property in Spain?
The tax is a tax on the individual beneficiaries rather than the estate as a whole.
The rate of inheritance tax payable in Spain will depend on three things;
- The autonomous region of Spain that applies
- The relationship between the person who died and the beneficiaries
- The amount that each beneficiary receives
- The individual wealth of each beneficiary
Each Autonmous region of Spain sets its own Inheritance Tax rates and therefore also sets the tax-free allowances that apply. There is a trend towards these tax-free allowances to increase, meaning that even though there is no total exemption between husband and wife there is often an increasing amount that can be inherited without having to pay any tax.
The rates of Inheritance Tax in Spain for a given amount change according to the area of Spain. An example is as follows. Multipliers may also apply to these figures depending on the relationship between the parties and the wealth of the beneficiaries.
Base Tax Payable
Remainder Taxed at
Up to €7,993.46
Can I sell a property I have inherited in Spain to pay the inheritance tax?
If your aim is to sell the property to cover the inheritance tax due, then you will need to get permission for the local tax authority to do so and will need to provide a guarantee that the proceeds from the sale will be used to pay the inheritance tax owed.
Need help with inherited property in Spain?
Our UK-based team of property lawyers are highly experienced in helping clients who have inherited property in Spain, including where you wish to keep the property or plan to sell the property you have inherited.
If you own property in Spain, we can also help you with making a Spanish Will.
With a thorough understanding of both UK and Spanish law, we can provide clear, reliable legal guidance in plain English, giving you the confidence to deal effectively with inherited property in Spain.