When you have purchased a property in Spain, or you are the holder of any other assets in Spain, such as bank accounts, life insurance policies, shares or any other type of financial products, it is of key importance to grant a Will in Spain, which will avoid future formalities, complications and additional costs related to the inheritance process.
Firstly, because the granting of a Will allows the testator to freely dispose of his properties and assets in Spain after his death, always according to the limits established by the legislation of his country of origin. To this regard, the testator shall appoint his inheritors and legatees and will determine the percentages allocated to each from the assets.
Passing away without a Will means that the distribution of the Spanish assets will be done according to the regulations of the country of origin, in this case, in what refers to the legal inheritors and the percentage allocated by the law to them.
Secondly, because through the Will some situations and circumstances ulterior to the death can be regulated. In the Will specific aspects related to the funeral of the deceased can be arranged (burial or cremation, place where the deceased will be buried or the ashes will be kept or disposed of, characteristics of the religious ceremony), and you can also appoint tutors or administrators for the children, when these are minor, fix conditions for the distribution of the assets and appoint executors who will ensure the fulfillment of those last wishes as detailed in the Will.
And thirdly, because it will make the process of allocation of the Spanish estate much quicker, easier and less expensive.
If a Will has already been granted outside Spain, it will be necessary to go, after the death, to the relevant Court Offices or Registry in the appropriate country to certify the validity of the same, having then to proceed to translate the said document into Spanish and get the Apostille or legalize it so that it becomes valid in Spain.
If no Will has been granted, in Spain or in the country of origin, the following steps will need to be taken:
In the country of origin, it shall be necessary to start the corresponding declaration of inheritors and administrators of the deceased´s estate, after the demise.
In Spain, when it is the parents, children, grandchildren or spouse of the deceased, they need to start before a Notary Public in Spain the proceedings of declaration of inheritors, which shall be settled strictly according to the laws of the country of the deceased. This process takes one month in being finalized.
And in the case when there may be only inheritors different from the above, such as cousins, nephews or nieces, uncles or aunts, or siblings of the deceased, the aforementioned proceedings for the declaration of inheritors will need to be undertaken via Court, with a longer period of resolution.
In the process of allocation of an inheritance in Spain the deadlines are of utmost importance, as the tax laws establish a period of six months, counting from the moment of the decease, to pay the relevant Inheritance Tax, and once the deadline expires, the amount of the tax shall be increased with a charge for paying outside the deadline and the relevant delay interests, if applicable.
Also, the management of any of the proceedings as aforementioned shall entail some expenses which involve an increase on the inheritance process cost: Notary’s fees, Court expenses, fees from the foreign Registries and Court Offices, costs for translation into Spanish of those documents which must translated and legalized to be valid in Spain. These fees and proceedings are not necessary when a Spanish Will has been granted, because once the relevant documents accrediting the decease and the estate of the deceased have been obtained, you would go directly to see the Notary Public to grant the corresponding Inheritance Deeds, without any need to start any of the aforementioned proceedings.
It is quite important to highlight that the costs of granting a Will in Spain are very low in comparison with the benefits it implies in the long term.
Courtesy of Martínez-Echevarría Pérez y Ferrero Abogados