Spanish Inheritance Law

Inheritance works quite differently in Spain to the UK and other countries, so whether you are planning for the future of your estate, need to deal with the estate of someone who has died, or have inherited property in Spain, you need expert legal advice.

With decades of combined experience we have been providing our clients with specialist global legal advice related to property and land in Spain.

Our Spanish inheritance lawyers can assist with all areas of your inheritance planning and estate administration, including:

  • Advice on how Spanish inheritance laws apply to your estate
  • Making a Spanish Will (including clear advice on the benefits of doing so)
  • Spanish inheritance tax planning (to minimise the tax burden on your estate)
  • Spanish Powers of Attorney (to empower someone else to act for you in Spain)
  • Spanish probate (including handling the process for you)
  • Advice on how a Spanish Inheritance affects your UK inheritance
  • Advice for people who have inherited property in Spain

We are headquartered in the UK, meaning we offer the security of dealing with UK-regulated and insured solicitors, combined with comprehensive knowledge of foreign inheritance and probate rules in Spain and a range of other overseas jurisdictions.

For specific advice on inheritance and probate in Spain tailored to your needs, please get in touch with our friendly, expert Spanish inheritance legal team based in the UK.

Call: 01438 840 258                    Email:


How Judicare can help with Spanish inheritance and probate

Advice on how Spanish inheritance laws apply to your estate

Spanish Inheritance Law states that when you die your property will be shared among your heirs according to the law of your country of origin (unless you are resident in Spain and have no Will, in which case Spanish law and the forced heirs applies). 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”.

A “foreigner” can make a Spanish Will leaving their own property to the person of their choice. This 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. Generally, speaking a valid Spanish Will is sufficient to dispose of the estate as you wish.

If a foreign resident dies domiciled in Spain and without a Will then the estate will be distributed according to Spanish law. Domicile is not the same as Tax Residence.

Our Spanish inheritance lawyers can explain exactly how your estate will treated under Spanish inheritance law and help you with your estate planning, giving you confidence that you have made the best possible preparations for the future of your estate.

Making a Spanish Will

We can advise you on the various different options regarding your Spanish Will.

It is possible to have two Wills – one in Spain covering your Spanish assets and one in the UK covering your other assets. Both Wills need to be drafted carefully to make sure that they do not revoke each other.

You can leave your assets in Spain to somebody with a UK Will, but this is not a good idea. The cost of the subsequent inheritance will be more, and it is possible that you will inadvertently cause inheritance tax problems.

The cost and extra complications of leaving no Will at all is great and should be avoided.

Whilst as a foreigner you do not have to follow the same rules that Spanish people do in terms of who you have to leave your property to in a Will, it often makes sense to do so as this can save your beneficiaries huge amounts in tax.

Our team can help you draft a Spanish Will which can be prepared and signed in your local area or in our offices – there is no need to go to Spain. We can ensure this works with your UK Will so your estate will be dealt with exactly as you intend when the time comes.

We can arrange for the registration of your Will at the Central Wills Registry in Madrid.

We charge £395 plus VAT for drafting a simple Will for one person. On top of that there are Foreign and Commonwealth Office Legalisation fees (currently £30) and Notary fees, which will depend on the Notary.

Find out more about our expertise with making Spanish Wills.

Spanish Inheritance Tax Planning

Spanish inheritance tax rules are quite different to those in the UK, so the way your estate is planned can have a big impact on exactly how much of your estate ultimately passes to your heirs.

Inheritance tax on property or assets in Spain has to be paid in Spain. 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.

The rate of inheritance tax payable in Spain will depend on four things:

  1. The relationship between the person who died and the beneficiaries.
  2. The amount that each beneficiary receives.
  3. The individual wealth of each beneficiary.
  4. The autonomous region of Spain that applies.

The tax is a tax on the individual beneficiaries rather than the estate as a whole.

Each Autonomous 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 there is often an increasing amount that can be inherited without having to pay any tax.

Our Spanish inheritance tax lawyers can advise you on the steps you can take to ensure your estate is as tax efficient as possible, making sure your heirs received the maximum benefit.

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.

AmountBase Tax PayableRemainder Taxed at
Up to €7,993.46€07.65%

Spanish Powers of Attorney

Creating a Spanish Power of Attorney allows someone else to carry out key steps in inheritance proceedings for you in Spain, so you do not need to travel there to deal with these matters in person. You can stay in the UK while ensuring your estate or an estate you are involved with can be dealt with effectively.

Spanish Powers of Attorney can give much more latitude to the recipient than UK Powers of Attorney, so it is essential that they are drafted carefully to give the person acting for you only as much leeway as is strictly required.

Our team can assist with drafting effective Spanish Powers of Attorney to match your needs, ensuring your representative can do everything you need them to and nothing more.

As part of an overall inheritance, we charge £250 plus VAT for drafting a Spanish Power of Attorney. On top of that you will have Notary fees, foreign and Commonwealth Legalisation fee (£30 per document) and often Courier fees. If we are not dealing with the inheritance then a standalone Power of Attorney would cost more

Spanish probate

Dealing with the estate of someone who has died can be complicated and stressful at the best of times. Where that estate includes property or other assets in Spain, it can make things even more challenging.

In Spain, you have 6 months from the date of death to pay the inheritance taxes. If the taxes are not paid within that time, then the authorities levy a fine and daily interest on late payment. This fine and interest can add up to a reasonable amount over time and therefore this should be avoided.

Strangely the authorities also only have a certain number of years to collect the inheritance tax and if they do not then they lose their right to collect the tax. For this reason, many people wait until the end of that period before accepting the inheritance. This is a risky strategy though, due to the fact that if you are caught within that period you will end up paying much more than you needed.

Our Spanish probate lawyers can assist with probate and estate administration for estates containing Spanish assets, ensuring every stage of the probate process is handled correctly while making this as easy as possible for you.

Advice for people who have inherited property in Spain

Inheriting property in Spain can be confusing for people who have never dealt with such matters before. There are a number of issues to consider, including your Spanish inheritance tax liability, when and how to sell the property (if you intend to do so) or what steps you need to take if you wish to keep the property.

Our Spanish inheritance lawyers can guide you through the whole process of inheriting a property in Spain, making sure everything is handled smoothly and cost-effectively to achieve whatever you want to happen with the property.

Find out more about our expertise with Spanish property inheritance.

Spanish inheritance and probate costs

The total cost of inheriting in Spain is generally higher than in the UK. This is for several reasons. First of all, the Spanish system is paperwork heavy compared to the UK - particularly if there is an international element in the mix.

Secondly, there are often complications in the inheritance which arise from the fact that the beneficiaries or the deceased are not Spanish. We have in the past, for example, had to get beneficiaries to apply for their first passport in order to inherit a property in Spain.

Thirdly, pretty much every document that we need needs to be translated and officially stamped - all of which has a cost.

At Judicare, we want to make your Spanish inheritance costs as transparent as possible, so we will be happy to provide an upfront quote for the costs involved with your matter, including our fees and any third-party costs (such as court fees).

Once a price has been agreed, we would only deviate from this in exceptional circumstances. Should any additional expenditure be required, we will always explain this to you and secure your approval before any billable work is carried out.

Notary fees for signature of Deed of Acceptance of Inheritance – Typically €600—€1,000

Notary fees for Power of Attorney (if applicable) – Typically around £100

Legalisation fees – £30 per document. Total cost of typically £60-£120 depending on how many documents are required

Wills registry Search - €7

Land registry fees – Typically around €300 (including searches)

NIE Application cost – €7 (if needed)

Taxes - Dependant on a number of factors including who is inheriting, where the assets are in Spain and the value of the assets. This could range from 0% to 82% of the value of the property.

Note: When the payment is to be made in Spain, we have quoted the cost in Euros and, where the payment is in the UK, we have quoted Pounds

For more general information about of fees, please take a look at our pricing.

Spanish probate checklist

 To doCompleted
1Get copy of Death Certificate 
2Instruct your independent lawyer (hopefully Judicare) 
3Get copy of Will - if applicable 
4If it is a UK Will get copy of Grant of Probate 
5Consider whether you want to keep the property after the inheritance 
6Consider whether you want to vary who should inherit the property 
7Speak to currency dealer about getting the best rate for your money transfers 
8Lawyer carries out checks on the property and advises you on the inheritance 
9Arrange NIE numbers for all beneficiaries 
10Arrange Power of Attorney if needed 
11Lawyer deals with inheritance 
12Arrange insurance – contents / buildings / health 
13Signature of deeds of acceptance of inheritance 
14Pay taxes 
15Registration at the Land registry 
16Make a Spanish Will and review your English Will 
17Arrange for Fiscal representation 

Why use Judicare for inheritance and probate in Spain?

Spanish inheritance law experts. Plain English advice.

Our team includes experts in Spanish inheritance law and fluent in Spanish, so you can be confident that no detail is overlooked and everything will be handled the right way.

At the same time, as UK-based lawyers, we can answer your questions and keep you informed in plain English, with no unnecessary legal jargon.

UK-regulated solicitors. Real peace of mind.

As a UK law firm, we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This means you can be confident we will adhere to the strict standards expected of UK lawyers.

Even more reassuring, we are required to carry professional indemnity insurance to cover claims up to £3million, which is much higher than the level of indemnity insurance required for lawyers in many foreign jurisdictions, including Spain.

Complete understanding of how UK and Spanish inheritance laws interact

While a law firm in Spain might be able to help with Spanish inheritance law, what happens if an estate has assets in both the UK and Spain? Or even spread over three or more jurisdictions?

As a firm of uk solicitors who are experts in Spanish inheritance law and inheritance rules in many other jurisdictions, we are perfectly placed to advise on what happens when you need to deal with the inheritance rules in more than one jurisdiction at once.

AIPP membership

When dealing with Spanish property inheritance, working with a law firm with strong international property expertise is a good idea. This is one area where Judicare particularly excels.

We are a member of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP), which was set up to improve standards of professionalism in a largely unregulated overseas property market. As AIPP members, we have signed up to a Code of Conduct that assures we adhere to the highest standards of honesty and professional integrity.

Decades of collective experience dealing with Spanish inheritance & probate

Our Spanish inheritance lawyers have many years of experience dealing with all aspects of inheritance planning and estate administration in Spain. This means we know all of the issues you need to consider, exactly what needs to be done and all of the common problems you can run into (and the not so common ones).

Drawing on our collective experience, we can help you to plan effectively and make sure every stage of your inheritance planning or estate administration goes ahead as smoothly as possible.

Need expert help with inheritance and probate in Spain?

Looking for a highly experienced, trustworthy, and reliable team of Spanish inheritance lawyers in the UK?

Need expert guidance and plain English advice on any aspect of inheritance planning and estate administration in Spain?

Want peace of mind that everything has been properly taken care of?

Then get in touch with the team at Judicare today!

Call: 01438 840 258                    Email:

Spanish inheritance and probate FAQ's

Is inheriting in Spain the same as the UK?

No, the processes are very different, but there is an interaction between them when you inherit a property in Spain. That is why the best person to advise you on your inheritance in Spain is somebody who understands both Spanish and UK law.

I have heard that certain people have to inherit from you in Spain. What is the situation?

This is probably the most common question that we get asked about an inheritance in Spain and also the biggest misconception. In Spain, just like in many countries, there is a system of Forced heirs. This means that if you are Spanish you have to leave your assets to specific people, normally your children.

However, if you are not Spanish and are not resident in Spain you do not have to follow these rules and are allowed to follow the inheritance laws of your home country. Even if you are resident in Spain you can state that you wish the law of your own nationality to apply to your assets. However, it often makes sense from a tax point of view to follow the Spanish rules anyway.

Do you need to make a Spanish Will for property in Spain or can you include it in your UK Will?

It is possible to leave assets in Spain using a foreign Will as Spanish Law recognizes Wills that are made abroad. Therefore, you can draft your UK Will to include your Spanish assets.

However, doing this unnecessarily increases the costs of the subsequent inheritance in terms of the costs and sometimes taxes. The reason for this is that the process becomes more difficult - each document required needs to be translated and legalised.

The cost of translating a UK Will into Spanish can run into hundreds of pounds on its own. Further to this, the process slows down as we have to wait for the Grant of Probate to be issued in the UK before we can progress the inheritance in Spain. This normally means the inheritance taxes are not paid in time in Spain, resulting in a fine and late payment interest.

It may be necessary to draft a Declaration of Law which confirms to the authorities in Spain that the UK Will is valid in the UK and also who the beneficiaries are. It is also often necessary to explain to the authorities in Spain how a UK inheritance works as the two systems are very different - in Spain, for example, it is the beneficiaries who inherit directly rather than using executors, administrators, trustees and the like.

The easiest way of dealing with an inheritance is by using a Spanish Will. This is for several reasons. First of all, the Will is made in the Spanish format, meaning that the authorities in Spain understand it and therefore do not require a Declaration of Law explaining the Will. Secondly, because it is drafted in Spanish and therefore does not need translating. Thirdly, because the Will is made in contemplation of the Spanish Law, meaning that it fits nicely with what the authorities want people to do.

All of this makes the process smoother and therefore quicker and more cost effective.

How quickly can you sell a Spanish property you have inherited?

Often the beneficiaries of a property in Spain will think about selling the property soon after. This can be for a number of reasons - they have no use for the property, they need the money to pay for something else or the property brings back too many memories to visit it again. Whatever the reason for thinking about selling the property it makes sense, as much as possible, to tie in the sale with the inheritance. Doing this can save money and time

In practice, however, this can be difficult as often Estate Agents will refuse to list the property until the deed of acceptance of Inheritance has been signed. It can also be dangerous to wait for a buyer as this can often take you over the voluntary period for paying the inheritance taxes - meaning that you end up paying a fine and interest.