What are the differences between making a will in Spain and the UK?

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In the U.K it is fairly easy to draw up a will, as long as you meet the following requirements:

In the U.K for your will to be valid, you must:

  • Be 18 years old or over
  • Make it voluntarily
  • Be of sound mind
  • Make it in writing
  • Sign it in the presence of 2 witnesses who are both over 18
  • Have it signed by your 2 witnesses, in your presence

If you make any changes to your will, you must follow the same signing and witnessing process.

If your last wishes are especially complicated or you are worried about the tax implications, then you would consult your lawyer.

However, in Spain the Will making process is slightly different as are the tax implications.

As in the U.K, you must be 18 years old or over, be of sound mind and make your will voluntarily, this is where the similarities end.

In Spain, a clerk at the Notary Office could draw up a very basic Will in Spanish. However, for better peace of mind, your lawyer will be able to draw up a much more complete document after discussing the situation with you, including clauses and provisions to protect your assets and your loved ones, so your Will is in line with your requirements and wishes. Your lawyer will also be able to translate the document into English (as the law requires) so that you and your beneficiaries understand the document fully.

Once you have instructed your lawyer to assist you on this, you must choose to make your will under Spanish law or under British law (if you hold a British passport)

If your Will is made under Spanish law, you are obliged to leave a certain amount of your assets to your children (2/3), whereas under British law you have free disposal of your assets.

Next, you have to decide if this Will is valid for all of your worldwide assets or just for your Spanish assets.

Once your lawyer has drafted the document, we recommend that you check it to ensure there are no mistakes. Make sure you discuss with him all possible tax implications as the law stands today.

You will then be required to sign the document in the presence of a Public Notary, so he will give public faith that your signature is true and you did sign that document voluntarily. The Public Notary will then give you a certified true copy of the original Will since the original will always stay in his Office (or the Notary Society after 25 years).

The Public Notary will report that your Last Will has been signed at his Office and will inform to the Last Will Registry in Madrid for your peace of mind. Then, it will be filed there for future reference, so there is always a record of where your last Will was signed in case it is needed in the future. This way no signed Will is lost.

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