If you, as a foreigner, own a property or any assets in Spain, it is not only advisable to make a testament also in Spain – it is essential!
1. You decide who to leave your assets and property and their amounts, not the Spanish law.
2. It can run concurrent with any Will you may have made in your home country, as the Spanish Will refers only on the assets and property you have in Spain (unless you agreed differently).
3. It will save money and time to your heirs, as the cost of process is higher and longer without a Spanish testament.
EU-citizens living in Spain can choose whether the law of their nationality shall apply or of their country of residence. It is important that this option is officially declared.
The Spanish law of successions will apply to foreign owners of estate and/or assets in Spain:
* if they are resident in Spain, and they have not yet made a Spanish Will in which they determine the law of their home country to be applicable, or
* if they made a testament in their home country without specifying that their home country law shall apply, or
* if they died with no valid Will (intestate).
Which types of testaments exist in Spain?
There are three different types of Will in Spain:
* The most common type of Will is an OPEN WILL. It is signed at the Notary in double column (Spanish and your own language). Your lawyer will prepare the document. He will also act as a translator and sign the Testament with you at the Notary office. After the signing, the Notary will notify the General Registry of Wills in Madrid of the signing, protocol number and testator details.
* A CLOSED WILL signifies that the content is not known by anyone – only by the testator.
* The testator can also write down the Will himself (HOLOGRAPHIC WILL). He must sign this handwritten testament on each page, dated and legible.
Which documents will your lawyer need when no Spanish Will had been made?
* Original death certifícate.
* The Will made in the home country of the deceased
* Certificate of Law (Certificado de Ley), issued by the General Consulate of Spain in another country, which attests to the foreign law for the purposes of its application in Spain.
* Grant of Probate (UK successions).
* Spanish NIE-number/ Passports copies from the heirs and the deceased and P.O.A.
Remember, that all foreign documents must be translated by a sworn translator, and in some cases apostilled.
In some cases the heirs will also provide the European Certificate of Succession which has simplified matters, regarding heirs, rights and applicable law, but Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom do not participate in the Regulation, so in those cases, procedures handled by the authorities of these three Member States will continue to be governed by their national rules.
Which documents must be presented with an existing Spanish Will?
* Original death certificate.
* Certified copy of the last Will.
* Spanish NIE-number/ Passports copies from the heirs and the deceased and P.O.A. (Power of Attorney )
After you have provided the documents, your lawyer will apply for the last Will certificate and sign on your behalf the Deed of Acceptance of Inheritance at the Notary Office.
Which inheritance tax law applies?
In general, regional inheritance laws apply to residents and the national to non-residents. Depending on the region the laws can vary.
I.e. Andalusia: The Junta de Andalucía approved a new reduction on inheritance taxes a couple of months ago. This rebate will benefit groups I (children under 21 years old) and II (children over 21 years old, spouses, inscribed civil partnership, grandchildren, grandparents and parents. For other relatives (group III) like brothers, nephews, uncles and aunts the reductions stay the same (7,993.46 Euros per beneficiary). Group IV: Cousins), and other more distant relatives, and Non-registered civil partnerships have no rebates.
The above-mentioned rebates are only applicable to beneficiaries of group I and II providing that the heirs are residents in a country in the European Economic Area and the largest number of assets of the deceased (highest combined value) are in Andalusia.
Any Non-EEA-resident heir will be subject to the State tax regulations.
The heirs have a period of 6 months to pay the inheritance tax from the date of the death. An extension of another 6 months can be applied for during the first 5 months after that date.
After this period the Tax Administration will imply penalty fees which can range from 5 to 20%.
With no Will existing in Spain, the inheritor must have prepared within six months all documents to be presented and to have them translated, certified by a Notary and apostilled – a procedure which mostly need more than 6 months.
Do not hesitate to contact us for further information on bi-lingual testaments and inheritance matters.