It is very important for UK nationals that own assets in Spain, e.g. a property, to have a Will in Spain. This is because the dictatorial form of Spanish Inheritance Law, means that a system of “Compulsory Heirs” is followed in Spain, so the testator, (the person passing on an inheritance), cannot dispose their estate however they wish.
Whilst common in a number of other European countries, this system is very different to the UK, where inheritance law allows the free disposal of assets, transferring with total freedom the inheritance at the entire wish of the person. So, the testator has total freedom to leave whatever he/she wishes, to whomever he/she wishes.
The default position is inheritance by country of permanent residence. Therefore if you do not have a valid Will in Spain, or have not stipulated in one, that you wish the law of the country of your nationality to be applied, then the applicable law will be determined as that in the country in which you had residence during the preceding 5 years.
Spanish Inheritance Law & Wills in Spain
Under the Spanish system, for example, without a valid correctly written Will, married UK nationals with children, would not be able leave their share of their jointly owned property in Spain to the surviving other. Spanish Inheritance Law would apply, and that dictates that 66 % of that property should be transferred to their children, and only the remaining 33 % passed to the surviving spouse.
Fortunately however, there is provision in Spanish Inheritance Law, which allows non-Spanish nationals, who own assets in Spain, to elect to have their estate in Spain executed under the law of the country of their nationality. This is done through a Will.
Whether you live in Spain or not, if you own assets in Spain and want control over who you pass those onto, you will need to have a Spanish Will in place. Apart from preventing the situation where assets end up being assigned against your wishes, it will also avoid lengthy, and potentially very costly administrative delays in the execution of your Spanish estate.
It’s also important when you make your Will in Spain, that your wishes are accurately reflected in it. Simply using a translator, or going directly going to a notary, you may find yourself with a Will that doesn’t clearly express your wishes. Therefore having someone who has completely understood what you want to happen on your passing, and who can ensure that this is correctly presented in your Spanish Will, is essential to ensure that your assets pass to your desired inheritor/s.
We can answer all your questions about Wills in Spain, and offer a free review of your situation. Come in and talk to us, or give us a call (+34) 951 77 55 44 / (+44) 033 0001 0777
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