Having now settled into our new home in Spain, we are finally getting organised with all the paperwork … however, that doesn’t include Endesa yet and we are still battling with telefonica, but hey that is all part of daily life in Spain!
This week we went to the notary to draw up a Spanish will for our possessions here. It is a very simple document but it means that, in the event of our death, our children and family will not be left with a bureaucratic nightmare … here we have explained the basics of Spanish law that relates to inheritance to give you something to think about…
The law in Spain relating to inheritance restricts the testator’s freedom to leave their assets to whoever they so wish. A Spanish national must follow the Law of Obligatory Heirs.
By Spanish law, following a death in Spain of a spouse, the remaining spouse retains all the assets acquired prior to marriage, half the assets acquired during marriage and any personal gifts or inherited assets given directly to the spouse.
The remaining assets are distributed according to the law of obligatory Spouses (Ley de Herederos Forzosos) which states the following:
- When a person, who has children, dies, their assets are divided into three equal parts:
- one third must be left, in equal parts, to the children
- one third must be left to the children, distributed as per the testators instructions. Any surviving spouse has a life interest in this third.
- one third may be distributed as per the testators instructions
-In the event of the death on one of the children, their children automatically inherit their share of the assets.
-In the event that the deceased has no children, and a surviving spouse, their parents have a statutory right to one third of the assets.
-In the event that the deceased has no children, nor surviving spouse, their surviving parents have a statutory right to half of the assets.
As an expat in Spain, if you draw up a Spanish will, you are permitted to distribute your assets as governed by the law in your home country. For British citizens in Spain, this means that our assets are distributed as per our instructions and to whom so ever we may chose.
So, although not obligatory, it is advisable to have a Spanish will for your Spanish assets. Making a Spanish will means that, in the event of your death, your assets can be distributed immediately, under local law and the lengthy probate process is avoided.
It is also worth noting that each autonomous community in Spain has its own laws regarding inheritance. It is possible to have a calculation made to discover what level of tax applies in your personal circumstance, that way leaving no unexpected surprises.
Provided that they are not contradictory, you may consider having a will drawn up in each country where you own a property and/or have considerable assets.