What happens if you don’t have a will in Spain?

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We are always surprised by the number of people who don´t think to update their will whilst living in Spain. 

It is very important to have a will in place, especially if you own a property in this country, since the Spanish law may be very different to the one in your home country. So, what happens if you don’t have a will in Spain?

First of all, even if you have a will covering your assets back home, your assets in Spain will be treated differently. A foreign will is recognised in Spain, but the process is complicated, expensive and time-consuming for the heirs. Your loved ones will not only have to deal with a different language, but also a different system, and having to go through all the necessary legal processes is far from ideal in a moment of grief; for example, obtaining a NIE (Foreigners Identification Number), and paying inheritance tax, which varies from region to region.

If you want your testament to reflect your last will, we highly recommend you get an international will, covering worldwide assets; or a Spanish will that covers your assets in Spain, but not the ones you may have abroad.  By doing so, you will leave everything as organised as possible, making sure your decisions and wishes will be fulfilled.

Furthermore, if you would like to change the will you have back home whilst in Spain, but you do not wish to travel back to your home country for just that reason, we recommend you make an international will.  Although a clerk at the Notary Office can draw up a very basic will for you, our advice is to get in touch with a specialised lawyer, who will be able to write a much more complete will, reflecting your situation and last will.

Professional International Lawyers will draw up a will for you, in both Spanish and English, at an affordable price. You will save your heirs a lot of trouble, time and money simply by having a will in Spain.

Something else to bear in mind is the inheritance tax. The percentage varies, depending on several points, such as the residency of the deceased and heirs, the amount inherited, the number of properties to inherit, the number of heirs and their relationship with the deceased, etc.

Once you have decided to get a Spanish will, you will have to choose between the Spanish law or the law from your country of origin. Keep in mind, for example, that under the Spanish law you have to leave a certain amount of your assets to your children (2/3).

In general, the Spanish Succession Law protects the right of inheritance in favour of the descendants, ascendants, spouse or partner, and people financially dependent on the testator. However, if you are not a Spanish national, you might have more, or even free, disposal of your assets. To do so, you must decide whether to make a will according to the laws of your home country and mention it specifically in the document.

Depending on what you choose, you can make decisions about your assets, the appointment of a testamentary guardian (if the testator is a parent or a guardian of a minor or disabled person), and other wishes or explanations on several decisions.

A good lawyer will be able to give you useful tips and advise you according to your situation, so you can have peace of mind, knowing your assets will be left as you asked for, leaving the heirs no unnecessary bureaucracy.

Pellicer & Heredia offer comprehensive will services: from reviewing your actual wills, to offering tips on making a will and giving advice on writing it, providing the will in Spanish and English, ensuring that your will is legal and registered (being in accordance with your wishes and with the requirements of the new European Regulation No. 650/2012), and helping you with tax planning, so your heirs can avoid paying more inheritance tax than necessary.

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