Wills For Spain and Great Britain


Posted and filed under Legal Issues in Spain, Wills, Probate, Donation and Inheritance.

Wills For Spain and Great Britain

All the information that you need to know about Wills For Spain and Great Britain.

Firstly, do you need a Spanish Will?

Anyone who has assets in Spain should make a Will detailing exactly what they wish to happen in the event of death. As a British national you have the freedom to choose who you wish to leave your assets to, whereas the Spanish have forced heirship. Even if you might live in Spain you have the right to choose your heirs.

Yes, you do need a Spanish Will. If you do not have a British Will, then you would have to obtain Probate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Confirmation in Scotland) and have them apostilled by the Foreign Office. This is time-consuming and expensive. We have known many people pay upwards of 1,200 pounds sterling for this and more, which could be saved by merely paying a small sum for a Spanish Will.

Even when there is a British Will and this can be looked to for the inheritors in Spain, Grant of Probate needs obtaining and apostilling. Again, your beneficiaries will struggle with a lengthy and expensive process the delay may also result in tax penalties. In the meantime, any assets cannot be sold and bank accounts are frozen, so making matters easier for your heirs by way of writing simple Wills can save a lot of time and money.

Wills are individual, so whenever there is more than one person listed on the title deeds of a property, a Will should, of course, be made by each person.

A Spanish Will is likely to apply only to your assets in Spain and would have no legality in any other country, except if you have become a Spanish citizen (not resident – citizenship), then matters may be different and it would be wise to take legal advice.

If you have a Spanish Will, do you need a British Will?

You need a British Will only if you have assets in Great Britain. The Spanish Will only covers Spanish assets and not having a British Will is going to lead to an expensive and time-consuming process of obtaining Letters of Administration. Even if there is only a bank account, you may very well need a British Will.

We also find that many people move to Spain and become Resident and still have a British property, savings or bank accounts, and their Will is maybe out of date. Bear in mind that after many life changes a Will may need updating. This could include divorce or separation, having a child, the death of a close relative, acquiring new assets (e.g. by way of inheritance) or moving house. However, once people have moved to Spain it is not so easy to manage to update a British Will. Thus we will shortly be introducing a service to prepare British Wills as well as Spanish Wills.

When a Will in Spain may not be enough… Do you need a UK Will?

What would happen regarding inheritance tax?

In Spain, it is the heir who is taxed and not the estate. The tax will be calculated by looking at the relationship of the heir to the deceased, the amount of net inheritance in Spain they receive and the appropriate tax allowance.

Spanish inheritance tax must be paid within six months of the death of the deceased. A joint bank account will normally be frozen on the death of one of the account holders, although the bank will usually allow the direct debits for services to continue to be paid out of the account. Executors are not normal in Spain and mentioning them in a Will can cause problems. Legal title passes directly to the beneficiaries.

With regard to the situation in the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, if your permanent home is abroad, then inheritance tax in the UK for example, is only paid on your British assets (e.g. property or bank accounts). The Estate pays usually not the beneficiaries. Inheritance Tax is a tax on the estate (the property, money and possessions) of someone who’s died.

There’s normally no Inheritance Tax in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to pay (this is different from Spain) if either :

– the value of your estate is below the £325,000 threshold
– you leave everything to your spouse or civil partner

Your beneficiaries or solicitor will need to deal with the probate.

How do I make a Spanish Will?

To make a Will in Spain is relatively easy. It needs to be drafted, in Spanish with an English translation, and signed in front of a Notary (a legal official who witnesses documents). Each person completing a Will needs to be present at the appointment at the Notary. In front of the Notary the Will is discussed, and if everything is in order, all parties (individual, Notary, Translator) sign the document. The original Will is kept at the Notary´s office, notification is sent to the Registry in Madrid, and an official copy is given to the individual, who should tell their heirs that they have made a Will.

Please contact Amanda with any queries or to make a Spanish Will.


  • Brenda Rosborough

    Is it possible to make a UK will in Spain. My husband is British with property and bank accounts but no will. I am a bit worried about it all as I, as his wife, put a lot of my own money into the mortgage but I am not British. I will most probably loose everything If he must die and there is still no will. ?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Afternoon Brenda,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      You are unable to make a UK will in Spain, we are sorry. You could ask a family member who stay in the UK to send you a Will kit, these can be bought in WH Smiths. We hope this helps.

      Kind regards

  • Auxie Gallero

    Hello, I am originally from Spain but have been living in the UK all my life. Even thou, I have a bank account in Spain with some money. Do I need to make an UK will or Spanish, or both?
    Many thanks in advance.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Auxie, You need to make both. If you don’t have a Spanish Will Spain will not release the funds in your Spanish bank account until your heirs provide Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration from the UK (with a Hague Apostille). This is expensive and takes ages. Much better to make a Spanish Will when you are back in Spain. For the UK, it is best to see a solicitor and write a UK will, but as a temporary measure as I have said before, you can buy Will packs from various places. So yes the answer is both when you can. Kind regards

  • Barbara Patterson

    I have made a Spanish Will and I am left with a Bank Account in Wales. I need a Will for the U.K. What do you suggest?. I have family in U.K. to act as executors.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Barbara, I am not sure about restrictions where you are at the moment, but in the UK you have the choice of making an appointment to see a solicitor, or buying a Will pack in somewhere like WH Smith if they are open. I would definitely advise writing a UK Will as well though. Kind regards

  • cherry

    Both my parents emigrated to Spain my mum made a wil in Spain my mum died 6 years ago which left my dad my dad started to come over to see is daughter but went bk to English citizen they can only find my mums will which not count does that mean the Spanish property goes in the English will my dads other daughter was not in the will in the UK only the daughter he lived with he was not a Spanish citizen anymore what happens

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Cherry, You need a solicitor to assist with your Mum’s probate to pass her Spanish assets to her heir. The Spanish Will takes precedence over any other Will. Please contact me by email attention Amanda and I will help, Kind regards

  • Jennifer Bell

    A relative who has lived in Spain 20years has Spanish will leaving every thing to me. The will states the value of all assets rights and shares correspond to the testador wherever they are situated. He has account England. Ive been told I need probate for English money. The Gov website states people who died in England? Is this still OK he was born in England and his bank say I only need probate for assets in England.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Jennifer, I am going to send you an email regarding this, Kind regards, Amanda

  • lorette Hague

    My stepfather passed away in March he was a Spanish resident. He had a Spanish will which was in both Spanish and English. We have dealt with all necessary in Spain & the notary signed the papers but it has come back denied as they say we need grant of probate. He had only a bank account in uk, no property. All assets were left to our mother on his death, to be split on her death. My sister is executor. We don’t know what to do next?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Lorette, It is difficult to advise without knowing the whole situation and seeing the paperwork. Could you send me a copy of the death certificate, the Spanish Will (I do not understand why probate would be needed either), the acceptance of inheritance signed with the Notary, the Spanish deeds and IBI and we will try to advise, Kind regards, Amanda

  • Deborah Ford

    I made an English Will when I was living in the UK. I am now a resident in Spain and also have a Spanish Will .
    I only have a bank account in the UK, and my English Will states it is not valid unless I am resident in the UK.
    Should I request my English Solicitor to return their copy of the Will to me or to destroy it and then do my own Will from a kit.
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Tracie Miles

      Good afternoon Deborah, this is UK jurisdiction so you will need to speak with your UK solicitor. Hope this helps.

  • Jo

    My dad is a Spanish resident having lived there for 15 years. He has a Spanish will for his assets in Spain but still holds a UK bank account. Can he write a UK will in Spain? He’s visiting me in the UK at the moment and is able to sort something here if he can’t do this in Spain.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Hi Jo, I have not found anyone who writes UK Wills in Spain and I think it would be best to do this in the UK, I am sorry. Kind regards

  • Mrs. Leah Battaglia

    My parents, both deceased within the last 12 months, were residents of Spain and had UK and Spanish wills. I am the only heir to the UK will but was excluded from the Spanish will and both wills were in a briefcase in the Spanish residence. Can I compel the Notario in Spain to give me the UK will since I must have it to settle my parent’s estate in the UK

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Leah, No you cannot. The Notary does not deal with the UK Will or UK jurisdiction. We only offer sending a legal letter to the inheritors in Spain demanding a copy of the will (I am assuming they will not supply it to you from the house) but this would be better managed by an English lawyer as for the UK Estate. Please send an email if you wish us to do that. With kind regards, Amanda

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