When talking about cross-border estates, we always get similar questions from our clients, as they are worried about different issues concerning the Spanish side of the estate, namely, how to have under control all Spanish aspects of my inheritance.

The beneficiaries of someone who has passed away with an estate which includes Spanish assets (property, bank accounts, mooring, boat, cars…) are usually confused as to how to sort out their inheritance in Spain.

Below find the some of the most commonly asked questions:

  1. How can I bequest to my beneficiaries those of my assets located in Spain?
    It is advisable to make a Spanish Will referring only to your Spanish assets in order to plan well-ahead who your beneficiaries will be, and how much tax they will be liable for. Note that the exact tax rules depend on each Autonomous Community and Local Council (Ayuntamiento), so each case is unique should be studied and decided separately.When making your Spanish Will, at TEMIS LAW we will provide you with clear estate planning,  advice on tax minimization and will writing services in English, for your Spanish Will in order to be compliant with Spanish laws and fully enforceable Spain.
  2. Do I need a Spanish Will?
    If you own Spanish property, we strongly advise you to make a Spanish Will referred to your Spanish assets only. If something happens to you without having a Spanish Will in place, the execution of your inheritance in Spain can become time-consuming, complicated and expensive. Moreover, it will leave your heirs on their own to handle an additional difficulty: dealing with Spanish bureaucracy.
  3. How do I know if there is a Spanish Will?
    In Spain there is a centralised system for registering Wills: the Last Wills Central Registry (Registro General de Ultimas Voluntades) where all Wills are registered, whether they have been signed in the UK before an English Notary (provided registration in Spain has been arranged) or in Spain before a Spanish Notary.  The Central Registry is to issue a certificate declaring which is the last will of a deceased testator/testatrix.We can provide registration of your UK will with the Spanish Last Will Central Register, therefore ensuring recognition by the Spanish authorities when the time comes.
  4. What happens if I die Intestate?
    If you do not have a will in place defining the applicable law to your succession, according to the European Union Regulation (650/202) that entered into force in August the 17th of 2015, the applicable law for estates in Spain is the law of your habitual residence. If you for example have your residence in Mallorca your assets might end up being distributed based on the intestacy rules of the Spanish Law, which vary greatly depending on the region where you have established your residence: it brings into play a combination of forced-heirship rules and life tenancies for spouses.Having your succession being determined by a foreign law is not a good option, that is the reason we recommend that you make a Will where you choose the law that will govern your succession that can be fully enforceable in Spain.
  5. Can I sell the Spanish property in the estate?
    As a beneficiary of an estate with Spanish assets, prior to selling a Spanish property, you must accept the Inheritance in Spain before a Spanish Notary in a Public Deed, and also pay the relevant Inheritance Tax to the Spanish Inland Revenue and Local Council (Ayuntamiento). As a Treaty of Double Taxation between the UK and Spain applies, you will pay IHT (Inheritance Tax) over Spanish assets ONLY to the Spanish Tax Authorities, and NOT to the Inland Revenue for UK Inheritance Tax purposes.

If you have any questions about Spanish Wills, estate planning and administration of estates, or if you want to register your will which refers to Spanish assets, do not hesitate to contact us at:

Your expert team:

Ana Baumann-Valencia:   avalencia@temislaw.ch
Esther V.  Espuny: evespuny@temislaw.ch