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Why it Pays to Make a Spanish Will as an expat

By Jonathan Goodman
This article is published on: 15th June 2015

While you are enjoying your new life and possibly a new home in Spain, it is understandable that you might not want to think too long or too hard about the future, particularly about matters pertaining to your Will and inheritance issues for your children and heirs. But this subject needs to be covered and fully understood sooner rather than later.

There are three central reasons for making a Spanish Will:

One – It avoids time-consuming and expensive legal issues that your family and heirs will have to resolve. You can – and should – make a separate Will to dispose of any assets located outside of Spain. A British Will, for example, has no bearing on your Spanish estate.

Two – Spaniards have to divide their assets equally among their family and heirs, and leave two-thirds of it all to their children. As an expat, you are exempt from this ruling and you can bequeath your assets to whomever you wish. Your estate will, however, be subject to Spanish inheritance tax, which is high when left by non-residents to non-relatives. In addition, expats resident in Spain are subject to the same taxes on any of their worldwide estate, too. Therefore, making a Will allows you to navigate these various taxes at your discretion.

Three – Your estate can become eligible to a 95 per cent reduction in inheritance tax. This reduction only applies to the first €120,000, but is not available to non-residents, so bear this in mind when drawing up a Will.

The Spectrum IFA Group in Spain are delighted to be able offer their clients a 15% discount when using the services of ‘AvaLaw‘, who over the last years have assisted clients from almost 50 different countries.

The story you are about to read is true; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent…

Mr. Rainyday and Mr. Blueskies were catching up over a beer in Barcelona on a sunny Friday morning. Mr. Rainyday had barely taken a sip of his beer before he was on his pet topic — complaining about Spain, his and Mr. Blueskies’ adopted home as of a few years ago.

‘This time its dad’s flat in Andalucía. It’s over a year and a half since his funeral, and I’ve only just got it transferred to my name. Plus, it’s cost me a fortune. There’s no way it’d be such a hassle back home. It’s a total scam!’

‘That’s funny,’ said Mr. Blueskies, ‘My dad died around the same time, had an identical apartment in the same building as your dad, and it only took us four months to get the apartment registered in my and my mother’s name. And, if I remember correctly, it didn’t cost that much, either.’

‘Really?’ asked Mr. Rainyday, ‘How’d you manage that?’

‘I don’t know. It all seemed pretty straightforward. Our advisor took care of everything for my dad. Was there a problem with your father’s Spanish will or something?’

‘Will? What will? Dad didn’t have one, but I thought you didn’t even need one in Spain?’

‘You don’t need one, but having one makes things a lot easier and cheaper for your heirs,’ said Mr. Blueskies. ‘Since my father had a Spanish will, I did not have to sworn-translate and legalize tons of documents, there were no surprises regarding the applicable law, no need to get certificates regarding which testament is valid according to the foreign law applicable to the inheritance, no need to pay lawyers to deal with all the unnecessary bureaucracy in all the countries, and no need to wait for a year or two to get the title of the apartment…’

‘I see…’ said Mr. Rainyday. ‘Anyway, what outraged me even worse than the bureaucracy, was paying the 60.000 euros of inheritance tax for the property worth 300.000 euros.’ 

‘Wow’, exclaimed Mr. Blueskies, ‘You paid that much, did you! We did not pay any taxes for inheriting my dad’s flat, since Roser advised my father to leave in his will 50% of the flat to my mother and 50% to me, so that we both could take advantage of the personal tax exemption of 175.000 euros that Andalucía had for all of us who were residing over there at that moment. What a difference, eeh, with some simple inheritance planning?’ Since Mr. Rainyday looked really sour, Mr. Blueskies changed the topic and started to speculate whether Barça is going to bring home all the 3 titles this season…

Clients of The Spectrum IFA Group are eligible for up to a 15% discount
on making a Will with AvaLaw. Contact us now for further information

Article by Jonathan Goodman

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