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

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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.

31 Comments

  • 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
      Nicola

  • 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
      Nicola

  • 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?
    Regards

    • 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

      Jane

  • 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

  • DENIS DOBSON

    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
      Amanda

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