Wills For Spain and Great Britain

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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move to Spain and become Resident and still have a British property, savings or bank accounts, and their Will is maybe out of date.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.

8 Comments

  • 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
      Nicola

  • 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

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