A number of important changes are happening with Probate in the UK. Because of this, we must emphasise that ALL Brits with assets in Spain should make a Spanish Will.
That could be just a bank account, a car, or definitely when property is involved.
Firstly, fees are going to change for UK Probates (Only England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are different). Historically fees have been fixed, but now the government is going to introduce a sliding scale, whereby they will gain a lot more in probate fees. The fees will go up depending on how large the value the estate is.
Why is the government doing this?
Because they want to have one central Probate Registry,probably based in Brimingham, rather than all the individual local Probate Registries. The Ministry of Justice will use the additional fees raised to pay for this and to improve the Court service.
Grant of Probate
When someone dies in the UK, a Grant of Probate almost always needs applying for if there are assets. The exceptions are if the deceased’s funds and were jointly owned (as in the UK, then it goes to the surviving owner/s). PLEASE NOTE THIS DOES NOT APPLY IN SPAIN, a probate always needs doing with property involved in Spain.
Also if the deceased only had savings or premium bonds a probate does not need doing in the UK. Otherwise the executor or their solicitors need to calculate the value of the assets and the tax and make an application to the Tax Office (HMRC), and start the probate process.
Estates with a value of more than £50,000 will pay fees even up to £6,000 on a sliding scale depending on the estate. Then there is also inheritance tax. It is going to be more expensive than previously
We always have said that people should make a Spanish Will. It is incredible how many people do not bother.
Say you have only a bank account in Spain when you die and nothing in the UK, as a Brit, then if you do not have a Spanish Will, then you will need a Grant of Probate in the UK to prove the next of kin in Spain. If you have a Spanish Will, your Estate may avoid a Probate in the UK possibly (depending on your assets there)
UK Probate will be time consuming and expensive. The regional probate registries centralising into one place is not only going to probably make probate applications take longer but also the Grant of Probate document is going to change. It will no longer have a copy of the Will attached.Therefore, for Spanish probate, as well as obtaining Grant of Probate in the UK if no Spanish Will, on top of this, someone is going to have to send the original Will with a Hague Apostille, or an official copy, again with a Hague Apostille.
What does this mean for my family?
Thus delays, more costs and also it is going to be more complicated. And for some people, if they had made a Spanish Will for a small sum of money, all this considerable expense and hassle could be avoided.
Our message for 2019 is if you have assets in Spain, make sure you have an up to date Spanish Will, even if all you have in Spain is only a bank account or a car. A small amount of money could save a great deal in the future. Contact us to make a Will.