Spanish Wills - Getting a Will in Spain

Making a Spanish Will can ensure that the right people inherit your property and other assets in Spain and reduce the inheritance tax burden on your Spanish assets.

Fail to properly account for property in Spain with a Spanish Will and you could also end up making things much harder for your heirs, increasing the time, cost and stress involved in dealing with your estate,

If you own property in Spain, it is in your best interests to make a Spanish Will as well as a UK Will. This ensures any difference in inheritance rules between the two countries are accounted for.

Getting expert advice on making a Spanish Will can give you peace of mind that all of the legal details are taken care of and that there won’t be any nasty surprises for your loved ones when you are gone.

With decades of combined experience we have been providing our clients with specialist global legal advice related to property and land in Spain. As well as assisting with buying and selling property in Spain, we also assist with Spanish inheritance planning.

Our Spanish Will lawyers can assist with all aspects of Wills in Spain and Spanish inheritance planning, including:

  • Making a Spanish Will
  • Having a Spanish Will legalised at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Having a Spanish Will notarised
  • Registering a Will with the Spanish Wills Registry
  • Advice on the effect of your existing Will
  • Spanish inheritance tax planning (to minimise the tax burden on your estate)
  • Advice for executors of Spanish Wills and UK Wills (including assistance with the administration of the estate)
  • Advice for beneficiaries (including people who may inherit under forced heirship rules in other countries or under rules of intestacy)

We are headquartered in the UK, meaning we offer the security of dealing with UK-regulated and insured solicitors, combined with comprehensive knowledge of Spanish inheritance rules.

For specific advice on making a Spanish Will tailored to your needs or dealing with any other aspect of Spanish inheritance law, please get in touch with our friendly, expert Spanish Will lawyers in the UK.

Call: 01438 840 258                                          Email: admin@judicaregroup.com

[faq]

Three key reasons to make an Italian Will for property and other assets in Spain

Make the estate administration much simpler

The Will will be in the Spanish format, drafted, signed, witnessed, and registered in accordance with Spanish law on Wills. In short it will be what the Spanish Authorities are used to and will be expecting.

Because of this, the authorities will know how to deal with it and therefore the whole process will be smoother than if you were using a UK Will to leave your assets. There will be fewer documents needed and less steps required to get to the signature of the Deed of Acceptance of Inheritance.

The costs will be lower

The cost of translating a UK Will into Spanish is normally more than the cost of making a Spanish Will in the first place. Also, because the authorities in Spain will understand the Will and the process, the cost will be less. If a UK Will is used, then it is likely that a Declaration of Law is required to explain to the Spanish Authorities how the UK Will works and how it is valid. This increases the cost of the inheritance.

It will make estate administration faster

If a Spanish Will is used for your Spanish assets, then it will not be necessary to wait for the UK Inheritance to progress before progressing things in Spain. Leaving your assets in Spain using a UK Will would mean that we would need to wait for the UK Grant of Probate before starting the process in Spain. This in turn is likely to mean that the six-month voluntary period for paying the inheritance taxes in Spain will be missed, meaning that there will be a fine for late payment and interest added on the outstanding amount. Making a Spanish Will therefore saves your beneficiaries cost and time.

How we can help with Spanish Wills and inheritance

Making a Spanish Will

Spanish Inheritance Law states that when you die your property will be shared among your heirs according to the law of your residence unless you leave a Will stating that it should be the law of your nationality applied. 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”.

If you are British you can make a Spanish Will leaving his 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.

There are three types of Spanish Will;

  • Open Wills – The most common type of Spanish Will. Signed before a Notary. The Notary reads out the document and makes sure that you understand it and that you are who you are. They witness the Will
  • Closed Wills – The person granting the Will writes and signs their Will and then seals it in an envelope. They confirm before the Notary that that envelope contains their last Will. Nobody other than the person granting the Will knows its contents
  • Holographic Wills – The least common type of Will. It has to be hand-written and is not valid if it is typed up. These Wills are not signed in front of a Notary but need to be authenticated by a Judge in Court.

Our Spanish inheritance lawyers can help you get a clear, legally sound Spanish Will in place. We offer clear, practical advice on all of the issues you need to consider, including how your UK and Spanish Will interact. This means you can be confident that you understand exactly how your estate will be dealt with when then time comes.

We can also assist with having the Will notarised, legalised, and registered with the Spanish Wills Registry, so you can be sure there should be no questions about your Will’s validity when the time comes.

Having a Spanish Will legalised at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Wills signed in the UK require legalisation at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. We can advise you on how this works and take care of having the Will legalised for you, taking this additional step off your hands.

Having a Spanish Will notarised in the UK or Spain

Spanish Wills are drafted and signed in a different way to the way that they are done in the UK. Spain uses the Notarial system for the signature of important documents such as Wills, so this is something that will have to be taken care of to ensure your Spanish Will is legally valid.

The role of the Notary Public is essentially to make sure that you are who you are, that you understand what you are signing, to make sure that you are signing the document under your own free will and to complete certain formalities.

The Notary can be in the UK or Spain but must be able to understand the document. Our Spanish Will lawyers can handle having your Spanish Will notarised, so you can be confident its validity will be beyond question.

Registering a Will with the Spanish Wills Registry

All Spanish Wills must be registered with the Spanish Wills Registry in Madrid. Wills Registries exist in the UK, but they are run by companies and often are not used. In Spain the majority of Wills are registered at one central Wills Registry in Madrid which is run by the government rather than private companies.

One of the documents required to carry out an acceptance of inheritance in Spain is a certificate from the Wills Registry in Madrid. This proves whether a Will was made, and which is the final version of the Will (if there have been several over the years). You cannot carry out an inheritance in Spain without a Wills Registry Search.

When we help you make your Will, we would make sure that your Will is registered at the Wills Registry. It is free to register (the Wills Registry is funded by a charge levied on searches), so this does not increase the cost of making a Will.

Advice on the effect of your existing Spanish Will and/or UK Will

If you already have a UK Will, we can explain exactly how this will apply to your Spanish property. You can then make an informed choice about any additional measures you wish to take, such as making a Spanish Will.

Our Spanish Will lawyers can also advise you on the interaction between different Wills (i.e., a UK Will and Spanish Will), so there are no expected problems for your beneficiaries when you die.

Spanish inheritance tax planning

Inheritance tax rules in Spain are different to those in the UK and you will have to think about they apply to your estate (as well as your UK inheritance tax liability) to ensure your heirs can receive the maximum possible benefit from your estate.

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 (certain close relatives are exempt from Spanish inheritance tax).
  2. The amount that each beneficiary receives.
  3. The individual wealth of each beneficiary.
  4. Which region of Spain your property is in (each autonomous region of Spain has its own inheritance tax rules).

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.

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%
€7,993.46€611.508.50%
€15,980.91€1,290.439.35%
€23,968.36€2,037.2610.20%
€31,955.81€2,851.9811.05%
€39,943.26€3,734.5911.90%
€47,930.72€4,685.1012.75%
€55,918.17€5,703.5013.60%
€63,905.62€6,789.7914.45%
€71,893.07€7,943.9815.30%
€79,880.52€9,166.0616.15%
€119,757.67€15,606.2218.70%
€159,634.83€23,063.2521.25%
€239,389.13€40,011.0425.25%
€398,777.54€80,655.0831.75%
€797,555.08€207,266.9536.50%

Our Spanish inheritance lawyers can talk you through exactly how inheritance tax rules in Spain and the UK will apply to your estate. We can then help you make the right decisions to ensure your estate is as tax efficient as possible.

Advice for executors of Spanish Wills and UK Wills

If you are the executor of an estate that contains property in Spain, we can advise you on what you need to do, whether there is a valid Spanish Will or not.

As experts in both UK inheritance law and Spanish inheritance law, we are well placed to assist where the deceased left both a Spanish Will and a UK Will, or if they left just one or the other.

Where there is confusion over the effects of their Wills or there is no Will, we have the specialist knowledge to help you unpick the issues and make sure you carry out your role in accordance with all relevant inheritance rules.

Dealing with Spanish intestacy rules

Intestacy rules set out who should inherit from an estate if there is no valid Will. If the deceased was a resident of Spain, then it will be Spanish intestacy rules that apply.

Who inherits under Spanish intestacy rules will depend on a number of factors including whether the deceased was married or in a civil partnership, whether they have surviving children and how much the estate is worth.

If the deceased was not married or in a civil partnership and does not have any surviving children, then other close relatives, such as parents or siblings, may inherit. If the deceased does not have any family, then the Crown will get the estate assets.

Leaving your estate to be dealt with under intestacy rules may mean your assets will not go to the people you would have wished to inherit. By making a Will you can make sure that the right people get your assets when you die. You can also make sure that your assets are distributed in the most tax effective way.

Not having a Will may also increase the cost of an inheritance as it may be necessary to draft complicated declarations of law and obtain other documentation which otherwise may not be necessary.

If you stand to inherit from an estate under intestacy rules, it is important to understand your rights and what you need to do.

Our Spanish intestacy lawyers can advise you on how an estate will be dealt with under intestacy laws and what you need to do, whether as the person whose estate it is or a beneficiary of the estate.

Advice for beneficiaries of estates containing Spanish property

If you have inherited or are due to inherit a property in Spain, we can advise you on exactly what you need to do.

If you are unhappy with the effect of a Spanish Will or your inheritance rights under the Spanish law, we can advise you on what steps you may be able to take. We can also provide assistance if you have to respond to an inheritance challenge from another party.

Spanish Will fees and costs

For a simple Spanish Will we charge £395 Plus VAT. That should cover the majority of typical cases.

For two “Mirror” Wills the total cost is £595 plus VAT

More complicated structures may require more work than a typical Will and will therefore cost more.

We would give an estimate for this cost prior to instruction.

Our charges include:

  • Taking your instructions on what you want to happen with your assets
  • Advising you whether your proposed course of action is legal and whether it seems sensible
  • Drafting your Will
  • Making arrangements for you to sign the Will
  • Registering the Will and the Spanish Wills Registry

There will also normally be various fees that will need to be paid on top of our fees, such as:

  • Notary fees – Typically €100 if signed in Spain and £150 if signed in the UK
  • Legalisation fees – £30 per Will
  • Wills Registry fees – Free

Why choose Judicare for advice about Spanish Wills?

We can handle both your UK Will and Spanish Will expertl

Our Spanish Will lawyers are skilled in both UK and Spanish inheritance laws. This means you only have to instruct one lawyer for your Spanish Will needs and we can help you create Wills in both the UK and Spain to account for every part of your estate.

Plain English advice

We speak English – when it comes to Wills and probate advice you should never take the chance of instructing a lawyer who does not speak fluent English. As we are based in the UK, we speak English as our primary language, with no unnecessary legal jargon.

UK-regulated solicitors. Real peace of mind.

As 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 £3 million, which is much higher than the level of indemnity insurance required for lawyers in many foreign jurisdictions.

Complete understanding of how Spanish inheritance laws and UK inheritance laws interact

One of our key selling points is that we understand the laws in multiple jurisdictions (including Spain) and regularly advise clients on how those laws interact with UK law. As such, we can provide clear, seasoned expertise on situations other law firms likely won’t have the experience to handle effectively.

AIPP membership

Property is one of the most common assets people have in their Will, so working with a law firm with strong international property expertise is usually a good idea when dealing with Spanish inheritance. 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 in Spanish inheritance law

Our Spanish inheritance lawyers have many years of experience dealing with all aspects of Spanish Wills and cross-border inheritance planning. 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 Spanish inheritance planning goes ahead as smoothly as possible.

Need expert help with a Spanish Will?

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

Need expert guidance and plain English advice on making, varying, understanding, or executing a Spanish Will?

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: admin@judicaregroup.com

 

Common questions about Spanish Wills

Are the inheritance rules in Spain the same as the UK?

The Will will be in the Spanish format, drafted, signed, witnessed, and registered in accordance with Spanish law on Wills. In short it will be what the Spanish Authorities are used to and will be expecting.

Because of this, the authorities will know how to deal with it and therefore the whole process will be smoother than if you were using a UK Will to leave your assets. There will be fewer documents needed and less steps required to get to the signature of the Deed of Acceptance of Inheritance.

Do I have to make a Will for my Spanish property?

No, you don’t as it is possible to deal with an inheritance that is intestate (i.e., without a Will). However, if you do not make a Will then you run the risk that your assets go to the wrong person or that the process of inheriting from you is more complicated and/or expensive than it needs to be.

Can I just leave my assets in Spain in my UK Will?

Yes, 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, this usually is not the best way of dealing with your estate as the two legal systems are very different and it may be better to leave assets to different people in different countries.

Using your UK Will to cover your Spanish assets will unnecessarily increase 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 needed needs to be translated and legalised.

The cost of translating a UK Will into Spanish (which is required on an inheritance) can run into hundreds of pounds on its own. This is generally more than the cost of making a Spanish Will in the first place.

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, which will normally mean that 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.

Can I have a UK Will and a Spanish Will?

Most people are not aware that you can have more than one Will (for example one in the UK dealing with your UK assets and one in Spain dealing with your Spanish assets). You can have two Wills that work together providing that they are drafted well.

If drafted incorrectly, one of your Wills might accidentally revoke the other Will, so it is essential to have a lawyer with experience of these situations draft your Wills for you.

Do I have to leave my Spanish assets to my children?

This is the most common question we get asked about Spanish Wills. In short, if you are not Spanish and not resident in Spain then no, you do not.

However, it might make sense to follow the same rules as a Spaniard needs to follow as this may end up being more cost effective.

If you are concerned about this issue, you should seek specialist advice from a Spanish inheritance law expert.