When a Spanish Will may not be enough. Do you need a UK Will?


Posted and filed under Wills, Probate, Donation and Inheritance.

Do you need a Spanish Will or a UK Will?

You should sometimes still write a legal UK Will when living abroad.  Did you know a Spanish Will may not be enough…? Do you need a Spanish Will or a UK Will?

 Are you resident in Spain or have a holiday home here but also own a few assets in the UK?

This is a simple test to see if your loved ones are protected should you die without a valid Will covering the UK.

1. Do you own any of the following assets in the UK?

a) A house
b) Bank accounts savings or investments (it doesn`t matter how little is in them)
c) Life policies
d) Pensions
e) Other assets such as cars, boats etc

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions in Number 1) then without a Valid Will in the UK you will not be able to ensure your wishes are carried out. You need a UK Will.

2. Do you own assets in Spain and do not have a Spanish Will, nor a UK Will?

If you answered yes to Number 2) then you definitely need Wills both in Spain and in the UK. You should write a Will in each country clearly stating that it is dealing specifically with the assets held in the respective country, ensuring there is no conflict. We can help with the Spanish Will.

No Spanish or UK Will?

Without a valid Will at all, you will have died intestate and your assets are distributed according to the law of intestacy. This means your wishes are ignored and may mean your loved ones will not inherit as you would have wanted.

Furthermore, it leaves a mess for those nearest to you to deal with, with a great deal of paperwork to be applied for, and is often expensive, stressful and can so easily be avoided.

Making a Will is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death and once in place gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your affairs will be left in order and carried out according to your wishes.

If you have not yet made a valid UK Will or if you have made one but it has been a while since it has been reviewed or circumstances have changed (divorce, death, estrangements), then do put one in place.  This will protect your loved ones and give you the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be carried out should you pass away.

If we can help with a Spanish Will, then contact us  and we will soon be in touch.

Cannot find my Spanish Will or have not made one

What is the case if I cannot find my Spanish Will? Do I need to do a new one?

The answer is no, you don’t. As what should have happened is that when you made your original Will in Spain then one copy would have been sent directly from the Notary to the Last Wills Registry in Madrid to be registered there.

When someone passes away, the first thing the lawyer in Spain will do is contact the Last Wills Registry in Madrid so that they know what the last Will made in Spain was. So it does not matter too much if you or your family cannot find a copy, as long as you know what was in it. You could request a further copy at the Notary where you made it originally.

If you have assets in Spain and do not have a Spanish Will, that is a different matter.  We would always advise that you have a Spanish Will. Please see the pages on that topic, or contact us for more information.


  • william whitehair

    Am I obliged to use a Solicitor in the UK to create an English will or can this be done with a Lawyer in Spain?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear William, We looked into it for a while with a professional WillWriter from the UK but we can’t do this service and to be honest as you really need someone up to date with UK law, I think it is best to use a UK solicitor for this.

  • Carmen Alonso

    I have a spanish will that covers everything i owe , does this cover me for property in uk?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Morning Carmen,

      Your Spanish Will only covers your assetts in Spain. If you have assetts in the UK , you will also need a UK Will.

      Kind regards

  • Raymond Povey

    Hi. My wife and I both have Spanish wills but we have now moved back to the UK. One of our daughters has settled in Spain and is our executor for both wills. Our other daughter still lives in the UK. My question is this. Do we need, by law, to write new wills now we are back in England or, can we still use the Spanish wills.

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Evening Raymond,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      If you have assets in Spain, it would be best to have a Spanish Will in place- If you have UK assets, we would recommend a UK Will as the probate process in both countries can be lengthy and more costly, if there is no Will in place. We hope this answers you question correctly.

      Kind regrads

  • Alan Eden

    I have a Spanish Will and also a UK Will. The UK Will is dated later than the Spanish Will and does not refer to the Spanish Will or assets. Does this make the Spanish Will null and void?

  • Pamela

    Hi, Both my husband and i are joint property owners of a property in Spain, it seems that our wills are related to Spanish law and should one of us pass away our 3 grown children will inherit one half of the property, am i correct in saying that there will be 4 owners including the surviving parent or would this include grandchildren. Would this mean making changes to the title deeds? 4 x non resident tax forms to submit each year etc. If we changed the wills and to include according to British or Uk law would the surviving partner be subject to a larger inheritance tax bill ? Also if the property was sold would the capital gains tax work out less with more owners?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Pamela, Our legal adviser will email you directly on this issue. Kind regards

  • Malcolm Ashley

    An elderly friend of mine told me that he wished to leave a property in Spain to me. He arranged a meeting with a notary and duly made a Spanish will with me as the beneficiary. Unfortunately, he passed away some weeks ago. I have just discovered that two days after he made the Spanish will ; he made a new English will leaving his entire estate to another beneficiary. Does the English will automatically take precedence?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Malcolm, Thank you for your email, we would need to see scanned copies of the two Wills to advise. With kind regards Amanda (sales@spanishsolutions.net)

  • Ivor Hayes

    My wife’s widowed sister, Spanish tax redifenty, died leaving her Spanish property to her unadopted step daughter under a Spanish will. In the UK she had no will so my wife is beneficiary in the UK. Her UK investments are in excess of reliefs so IHT is due. Does the Spanish property go into the UK estate at open market value for the purpose of UK inheritance tax calculation?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Ivor, in Spain the value for probate purposes of the Spanish property is taken from the official tax value (which a solicitor can calculate). We do not deal with the UK side so a UK lawyer or accountant would have to advise on how the values are treated in the UK estate. But there is a double taxation agreement.

  • Denise

    My husband and I have UK wills and have been told we can just have these copied into spanish,is this correct?

    • Jane

      Hi Denise

      We would recommend you complete a Spanish will mirroring your UK wills. If we can be of help please contact us.

      Kind Regards


  • Lesley

    My partner died in Spain where ch he owned a property I have a uk will stating he leaves it to me and his son then a old girlfriend has a will which was made a lot earlier in Spain and it says the property is her is this will void has our one is the latest will x

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Lesley, That is not simple to answer as we would need to read both wills to advise. Normally the last testament is the one valid, however it depends how the clauses in both Wills are worded. Whoever is dealing with the probate (a Spanish solicitor) should review both. . We could help you, if you could write to us with more detail by email, With kind regards Amanda

  • Joanna

    I am a resident in Spain, own a house in the UK and are hoping to buy a house in Spain. A lawyer in Spain suggested I should only have a will in Spain, saying that it is under UK law. I have a young child, can I include a trust for his inheritance in the will, with trustees and trust rules as in a UK will? Or, if I have two wills, one for Spanish assets and one for UK assets, can the Spanish one include a trust for my son’s inheritance?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Joanna, the lawyer in Spain is correct. If you have assets in Spain you should have a Will in Spain, as it is quicker and easier and avoids having to wait for Grant of Probate from the UK. The Will should be written saying you choose your national (British) law. But no, you cannot include a trust as trusts do not exist in Spanish law. That is not possible. If your son is under 18 a Guardian has to be appointed in the Will to control the assets until he is of age. If you would like more information, please email me, With kind regards, Amanda

  • Joanna

    My stepfather recently died in spain. His only will is a spanish will has been written under British law, however his spanish solicitor is now saying the will is not valid for assets in the uk. Is this correct?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Joanna, As you are dealing with the assets in UK jurisdiction, it is for a UK lawyer to advise on whether the Will might be accepted in the UK. You could also check on the gov.uk website in the Probate section. Spanish assets would be dealt with by the Spanish Will. UK assets, it would depend on whether the UK authorities will accept the Spanish Will translated to give probate. With kind regards, Amanda


    I am a UK citizen and resident in Spain, I have a Spanish Will covering my Spanish assets. Do I need an English Will to deal with a couple of UK Bank Accounts?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Hi Denis, Yes, you should write a UK Will, Kind regards

  • Ralph Webb

    I have a situation similar to one of your enquirers, e.g, I live in Spain, have assets here but also have a Bank Account in the UK. I have a Spanish Will to cover my property here and wasn’t sure if I should have an English Will to cover the Bank Account in the UK. Your advice was “yes” you should, so that solves my dilemma. However, will the term “last Will and Testament” in the UK Will over rule the Spanish Will?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Hi Ralph, No the Spanish Will always takes precedence in Spain ,Kind regards Amanda

  • Judith birch

    I have Spanish will leaving house to lm son who is resident in Gran Canaria.
    Am leaving property in uk which l am leaving to my daughter l have made a uk will
    Will my assets in uk and vice versa be declared in both wills. How does that work?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Hi Judith, I cannot advise on the UK side but in Spain the Spanish Testament will apply and be valid for the Spanish assets. The lawyers will not need to know anything about the UK assets. Kind regards

  • Jenny Staples

    I am a widow with a property in Spain. I have a valid Spanish will leaving my house in Spain to my son. I am getting married in November. Will my Spanish will still be valid after I have married. My future husband is not related to my son. Thanks for your help.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Hi Jenny, We have been in touch and I explained marriage does not cancel a Will in Spain, Kind regards

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Morning, Jenny,

      Thank you for your email. Congratulations!

      In Spain a Will is not cancelled on marriage like in the UK, but it would be best if we could see a copy of the Will to check the clauses and to do know if you are a resident of Spain. We will contact you directly to discuss this matter further.

      Kind regards

  • Jose

    Good morning,
    I am a Spanish national, resident in the England. I have properties both in Spain and the UK, but most of my assess are located in England.I also have young children. Would it be possible to deal with the UK assets with a Spanish will, including the designation of ‘tutor’ if the we die earlier? If so, which law would you recommend to select for the will – British or Spanish? Does it make any difference?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Jose, You need a Spanish Will for the assets in Spain and a UK will for the assets in the UK (as sometimes the UK do not want to accept the Spanish Will for assets based there). If you are Spanish by nationality you cannot select a different law as this cannot be amended, so the Spanish Will would be according to your national law and enforced heirs. I hope that helps, With kind regards

  • Elizabeth Slaney

    I’m British and own assets in Spain and the UK. I understand that I need to make a will in both countries to cover the respective assets. However, I have also been told that I can select UK law to cover both wills. Your mention in the previous message that “sometimes the UK do not want to accept the Spanish Will for assets based there” raises concerns for me. Could you explain please?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Elizabeth, you should make a Will in both countries. Otherwise the Probate department in the UK would have to decide if they will accept a Spanish Will, or whether they declare the Estate intestate, it will depend on your circumstances at the time. Definitely best to make the UK Will for UK assets, Kind regards

  • Cherry Joines

    My dad died in england he made a will in the uk for his banks but he had a place in spain my sister was not in tbe will in uk but was in tbe will fir appartment but has been over tbere wirh out me and got rid of everythi g she took a friend over with her whuch i tbink was wro g my sister did not have alot to do wirh dad i paid for my dads wake my sizter did not go to the fu real and she have got rid of the possetions is she allowed to do this

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Cherry, Yes, she is but whether it was morally right without consulting with you is another question, I am sorry, you have had to experience this. If you need help with the Spanish probate for you both, do let us know, Kind regards

  • John I man

    I was my husband’s second spouse and he had 2 children from his first marriage. He lived in Spain but did not have formal Residencia (we lived in Spain as EU citizens).
    He had a Spanish will leaving 70% to his children and 30% to me. The will was written in 2012 and we married in 2016.
    There is no formal usufruct çlause in the will, but as widow am I entitled to the right of usufruct even though I am a UK citizen.
    Secondly as we are both uk citizens can the will be declared void as we married after the date of that will?
    I ask as now the children are trying to force a sale and push me out of the house.

    • Amanda Thomas


      I am going to email you directly regarding this as it is quite a complex issue, Kind regards

  • Janice farrar

    My husband had a property in Spain in his name only. He made a spanish Will leaving the property to myself his wife. I am resident of UK so was my husband. I have been given different advice. (1) I need to go to probate in UK to have Spanish inheritence property put into my name and (2) piece of advice IS I do not need to go to probate in UK as he had made a Spanish Will. Which IS correct please? I am so confused.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Hi Janice, The correct answer is a Spanish probate must be done to transfer the property to you. But a UK probate will not be required if he had a Spanish Will which needs validating by us obtaining a Last Will Certificate. Then an inheritance process needs to be done. But no, I do not think you will need a UK probate. Hold off until after the LWC is obtained. With kind regards, Amanda

  • Brian

    I am British living in Spain as a non-UK-resident, I own assets and property in Spain and also assets and property in the UK. My Spanish Notary tells me that, as a Spanish Resident, that I am not allowed to make two Wills and that I must make a Spanish Will to cover my world wide possessions. Is this true?, because I believe that it would complicate my affairs after my death.

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Morning Brian,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      If you have assets in the UK and Spain, it would be be best to have a will in each country, we hope this helps.

      Kind regards

  • Fernando Sanchez

    I bought a house in London. I am Spanish, with settled status in UK with no will in either Country made.

    Do I need a will in UK and in Spain? No spouse, descendance and I’d like to leave my will to someone in Spain. I have bank accounts in Spain and UK, no other possessions besides my flat in London.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Fernando, a Spanish Will would be used for your Spanish assets and a UK Will for your UK assets, but bear in mind when writing a Will your Spanish nationality. You will need to seek legal advice from whoever helps write your Wills there. But yes we do advise having Wills in both countries, kind regards

  • susie allen

    My brother has an apartment in Spain and when he purchased it he made a will and left it to me and my sister, but has since married in the Uk , is the Spanish will void on his new married status ?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Susie, No,a Spanish Will is not annulled by marriage unlike a UK one. However he should probably make a new one so it is very clear and unlikely then to be contested. Kind regards

  • Wayne B.

    Im a UK nacional but have been resident in Spain for 30 years.I am part owner of my mothers house in the UK with my brothers.Do I need a UK will so my two children (both spanish nacionals) will receive their part of the sale of the house? Or would it be possible with just a spanish will?..Thanks

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Wayne, You should check with a UK lawyer as this is their jurisdiction, but my opinion is that you should make two wills, the one in Spain will affect only the assets and rights you have in Spain and the one in the United Kingdom for what you have in the United Kingdom. If you first sign the Will in Spain, later, when you sign the will in the United Kingdom, you should indicate that you wish to maintain the validity of the will signed in Spain. Otherwise the will in Spain would be invalidated. If you first sign your will in the United Kingdom and then the Will in Spain, we do not think it is not necessary to indicate in the Spanish Will the existence of that other previous will in the United Kingdom, but you should double check that with a UK lawyer as that is UK law and their jurisidiction. But our advice is to have two separate Wills. One in the UK and another one in Spain. I hope that helps. Kind regards.

  • Malcolm

    I live in the UK but have a holiday home in Spain. We do not have any will in either country and wonder which will to arrange first – the UK one or the Spanish one?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Thank you for your enquiry Malcom,

      If you live in the UK , we would recommend that you make the UK will as soon as possible. Then when you arrive in Spain, a Spanish Will. We hope this helps.

      Kind regards

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Malcolm,
      As you are in the UK make one there first, advising the lawyer of Spanish assets (but it is best not to exclude them). Then when you are here make the Spanish one (advising Spanish lawyer of UK Will). If you pass away the Spanish Will is going to be used for the Spanish assets. If the Spanish assets are excluded and you did not get round to making the Spanish Will, it would all become much more expensive and difficult to do the Spanish side. Kind regards, Amanda

  • Maria L

    Hello, I am a Spanish citizen with permanent residence in the UK ans have not written my Will yet, I would like that part of my Will goes to a family member in Spain. What do I need to do to make sure my Will will be executed to the person I choose to receive my inheritance? I have no assets in Spain, just in the UK. Many thanks.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Maria, You need to contact a solicitor in the UK (as the Will needs to be done there to cover UK assets) with all your information and probably some cross border experience would be important. With kind regards

  • Susan McLoughlin

    Is there such a thing as a sole heir in Spain if a will is written with 4 people in it? 3 with all money being left and one with a property in Spain.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Susan, I am sorry we would need to see the Will to advise further, kind regards

  • Karen

    My aunt passed 2 years ago in Spain leaving a Spanish property to me, her niece, and her step daughter whose father passed 10 years ago. The Spanish Will wished for a 50/50 split and this was done for all Spanish assets. Since we have gained access to UK funds… I was advised by my UK solicitor that as there was no UK will the funds would go to my mother … my aunts sister. This is fine with me but is being contested by the step daughter. Once the UK probation system has made this decision and funds released can this be over turned by her appealing?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Karen, I am sorry but you would need to consult a UK solicitor for this query. With kind regards

  • Eddie Schneiderman

    I am a U.K. and Irish citizen, living mainly in the U.K. but with property in Spain. My husband and I made Spanish wills when we bought our property in Spain, and also have U.K. wills. The Spanish will was drafted in the correct Spanish format with an English translation alongside, and signed in front of an English notary who was also a Spanish abogado, as well as the usual witnesses. It has an apostille and was registered I understand, with the Spanish Wills Registry. I received a copy from them. My husband has died recently, but I’ve been told by our local Spanish lawyer that the Spanish will is not valid because the notary, although Spanish was not registered with the Spanish collegia of notaries, only the English system. Is this correct and does it mean I have to rely on the English will with all the complications?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Good afternoon, I am so sorry to hear this. Please can you send me a copy of the Spanish Will and the communication from your Spanish Lawyer, including the Last Will Certificate from Spain if you have it. The email is sales@spanishsolutions.net, then we can advise. With kind regards,


  • Joanne Marshall

    My father passed away in Spain after living there for 10 yrs in 2022 but he has left everything to his girlfriend and her son, i can’t understand why I have been Dishinheted for no reason, his Will has not been updated since 2012, and he only has one uk assets but on the Will says he girlfriend is sole heir to Spanish assets does not mention the uk, but his Will states British law any help will be appreciated thank you

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Joanne, I am sorry for your loss. If he had no Spanish assets and no UK Will, then this is a matter for a UK solicitor. Generally if a Will is in existence and valid (which this would be as made through a Notary and he chose his law of nationality which means he can choose his heir/s) it could be used then for the UK probate. However a UK solicitor would need to advise particularly if the wording is limited to Spanish assets. If you need an Affidavit for the next of kin for Spain to cover the UK assets, then please contact me by email after referring to a UK solicitor. Kind regards, Amanda

  • Geoff

    I am a uk resident part owning a holiday home in Spain, when purchased made a Spanish will. I don’t currently have a UK will – will the Spanish will be recognised or will uk intestate rules apply

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Geoff, The Spanish Will is applicable for Spanish assets, You would need to ask a UK lawyer regarding its validity for UK assets, Kind regards.

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