Services for the individual > Legal

Wills in Spain

Last will and testament
  • If you own property in Spain, we recommend that you have a Spanish will.
  • Contact us

Articles:
Types of Spanish wills
The procedure for dealing with property of non-residents after death
Inheritance tax for non-residents

FAQs:
Should I have a Spanish will made?
Is Spanish law applicable to my property?
What assets does my Spanish will cover?
What does your service include?
What if I want to change the contents of the will later on?
As a couple, can we have a joint will made?
What happens if the deceased has not left a will?

 

Should I have a Spanish will made?

If you own property, yes. It is a slow and expensive process to get your foreign will recognized in Spain. For your heirs to get your Spanish property transferred to their names, the process is much simpler if there's a Spanish will. If there is no Spanish will registered at the Registro de Actos de Ultima Voluntad, then in the worst case, your property will pass to the local and regional government.

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Is Spanish law applicable to my property?

When a foreign property owner dies with no will (intestate), Spanish law must be applied to their Spanish assets as a result. Be aware that this differs from countries such as the UK. The deceased in Spain must leave two thirds of their estate to their compulsory heirs.

If however the property owner makes a will, they can bequeath their Spanish assets to anyone they please as long as the laws of their home country permit this. The Spanish Civil Code states that the assets that the foreign deceased had in Spain at the time of their death will be governed not by Spanish law but by their own national law.

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What assets does my Spanish will cover?

The Spanish will covers those assets located in Spain. You should have a foreign will to cover any assets that you have in other countries. You must make sure that there are no legal conflicts between the application of your Spanish will and your will abroad.

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What does your service include?

Once you discuss with us the full details of your intentions, we draw up the will, following your wishes to the extent possible, while adhering to requirements of Spanish law regarding wills. To be valid, this will needs to be notarized.

We will need you to:

  • Provide the data for you, your heirs, and anyone else mentioned in your will.
  • Choose a notary (or choose the location in Spain most convenient to you, and we will contact a notary there).
  • Sign the will at the notary's office.

A copy will be given to you. The original will be kept at the notary's office (or successor's office), thus avoiding risk of loss or theft. In addition, the notary sends a report to the Ministry of Justice, simply notifying the Ministry that the will has been made, without disclosing the contents. That way, it can be known which is the deceased's last official will. The record is kept secret until the death of the testator. At that time, we can know what was the deceased's last official will, thus avoiding possible errors that could later prove serious.

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What if I want to change the contents of the will later on?

To change the contents requires a notary, so you would need to go through the same process.

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As a couple, can we have a joint will made?

No. You need a will done for each of you.

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What happens if the deceased has not left a will?

When the deceased has not left a will, the Spanish Law of Succession determines who shall inherit in the following order:

  • The descendants of the deceased inherit in equal shares.
  • If there are no descendants, the spouse inherits.
  • If there is no spouse, any brothers or sisters of the deceased inherit in equal shares. If any brother or sister of the deceased has predeceased and left children, the children inherit their parent's share in equal shares.
  • If there are no brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, then cousins, if any, inherit.
  • Finally, if none of the above family members exist, then the deceased's estate is inherited by the Spanish Government.

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Types of Spanish wills

Open Will

This is the usual form of will for most people in Spain. It is made before a Notary, who keeps the original document in his file. The Notary will send notification of the will to the Central Registry of Spanish Wills in Madrid.

Holographic Will

This type of will is handwritten entirely by the testator. It must be signed and dated on each page by the testator. It must be verified as genuine before a judge.The deceasedīs closest relatives must verify the deceasedīs handwriting. Once this has been done, the judge will enforce the provisions of the will.

Closed Will

The details of your will are kept secret by placing them in an envelope. The testator must then declare the following before a Notary:

  • that the provisions of the will are contained in the envelope.
  • whether it has been written by a third party or by the testator.
  • whether it has been signed by a third party or by the testator.

The Notary then seals the envelope and signs it. It is then filed by the Notary who informs the Central Registry of Spanish Wills.

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