Is a Spanish will obligatory when you have assets in Spain?

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A Spanish will is the best form of planning your inheritance, guaranteeing that your assets in Spain will be regulated by your national law.

The short answer is NO, it is not obligatory. International law establishes that a will made in a foreign country, and following the country’s regulations, is perfectly valid to regulate assets from the testator, even if they are in another country. However, we highly recommend making a Spanish legal will for some of the reasons that will follow.

A Spanish will is the best form of planning your inheritance, guaranteeing that your assets in Spain will be regulated by your national law. It is important to know that Spanish law limits the testator’s freedom in the disposal of the assets in a will. The deceased in Spain must leave two-thirds of their estate to the compulsory heirs.

If you have assets in Spain and you are a non-resident, in case of death, the inheritance process will be regulated by your national law. However, if you are a Spanish resident and do not expressly state the opposite in a will, the law to apply will be the Spanish law and not your national law.

As a Spanish resident or someone whose intention is to live in Spain permanently and you would like to pass your assets to a person other than your spouse or your children, Pellicer & Heredia’s advice is to make a will in Spain, where you state that in case of death, you expressly want the inheritance to be regulated by your national law and not the Spanish law.

If you have made a will in the U.K., including the same clause, it is valid, but it must be legalised, which is much more expensive and complicated than if you had a Spanish will in place.

In order to execute the U.K. will in Spain, the inheritors must follow the steps below:

  • Legalise a copy of the grant of probate with an Apostille, which is an international stamp obtained from the Foreign Office.
  • Obtain an official Spanish translation of the certified copy.
  • Instruct a Spanish lawyer to prepare a list of the assets in Spain, execute the UK will in Spain, and pay the inheritance taxes on your behalf.
  • Finally, a Spanish Notary can proceed with the execution of the will.

As you see, it can be an unnecessarily lengthy process and will cost your heirs even more money and stress to enforce your UK will in Spain. To save your heir(s) time and money, Pellicer & Heredia highly recommends you to make a will in Spain for that peace of mind. You could even consider signing an International Will in Spain that covers worldwide assets.

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