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Where there’s a Will

By Pauline Bowden
This article is published on: 7th June 2016

Many people avoid drawing up wills because it requires them to contemplate their own mortality. If you are a foreigner with property and/or other assets in Spain, you should make a Spanish will.

You should also have a will for each jurisdiction within which you hold assets. For example, if you have a bank account in Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Jersey etc, you also need a will in that country.

Each of these wills needs to clearly state that they are for the disposal of assets in that country only and that you want your will to be governed by UK/ other EU country law. Only if you state this, will that disposal of assets be governed by your own national law and not that of Spain.

It is now possible to have your Spanish will made out in two columns. One side in Spanish and the other in English. This is checked by a Notary Public and signed by you, the Notary and your interpreter, if your Spanish is insufficient for you to read the Spanish side of the document yourself. The Testamento Abierto (Open Will) is kept by the Notary, an authorized copy will be given to you and the Notary will send a notification to the Registro Central de Ultima Voluntad in Madrid.

It is important to discuss with your legal or financial adviser in Spain, details of the heirs named on your Spanish will. The more direct descendants that are named in your Spanish will as heirs, the less the Inheritance Tax you should have to pay.

Unlike the UK and many other countries, in Spain it is the person receiving the inheritance that is taxable, NOT the deceased person’s estate.
There are many differences between the UK law and Spanish law on Inheritance and Gift tax and although the UK and Spain have many reciprocal arrangements for double taxation, there is no such arrangement for Inheritance Tax.

To die intestate (without a will) in Spain, makes the process of sorting out the deceased’s estate much more time consuming and costly. For the sake of a small amount of money and an hour of your time, you can leave your affairs in order, to help those left behind.

Article by Pauline Bowden

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