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Is spanish Law applicable to your property? Do you need a spanish will?

  1. General considerations
  2. About your Spanish will
1. General considerations

Though it is unpleasant to think about death and we try not to think about it, it has a nasty way of coming on suddenly and unexpectedly and the very last thing that is wanted is to have to deal with difficult bureaucracy at a time of bereavement, and what’s far worse, in a country where you may neither speak the language, nor have local connections and have not knowledge of legal issues. It is advisable that foreigners who are retired in Spain make a Spanish will disposing of their assets in Spain, in order to avoid time-consuming and simplify legal formalities for their heirs.

When a foreign property owner dies intestate, Spanish law must be applied to his Spanish assets as a result. Be aware that Spanish laws of succession are different from those in other countries, the deceased in Spain must leave two thirds of his estate to his compulsory heirs.

Notwithstanding, if a foreign testator makes a will disposing of his Spanish property, he can bequeath his Spanish assets to anyone he pleases as long as the laws of his home country permit this. The Spanish Civil Code states that the assets the foreign deceased had in Spain at the time of his death will be governed not by the Spanish law but by his own national law.This is applicable for foreigners who have an existing foreign will or Spanish will.

In other way, although the Spanish law provides that the estate of any official resident foreigner is subject to Spanish inheritance law, in practice resident foreigners will find no problem in making a separate will bequeathing their Spanish property to any person they please.

2. About your Spanish will

The Spanish will you make shall dispose only of the assets located in Spain, you also need a foreign will disposing of any assets you havelocated in other countries. Make sure that there are no conflicts between your Spanish will and your will abroad.

The Spanish will can be made out in two columns, one in Spanish and one in your own language duly approved by an official translator. It will be kept on file to the Central registry of Spanish wills. The testament shall be drawn in compliance with the Spanish law of succession, you need the assistance of a Spanish Lawyer.

If you have made a Spanish will disposing of your Spanish propertyand living it to the person of your choice, be aware that according to Spanish law, your legitimate inheritors may contest your will and the Spanish authorities can enforce their own law strictly, as the Spanish law stipulates that two thirds of the deceased’s estate must be left to his compulsory heirs.

So if you are not confident that your will is to be executed as you have written it, you should consult a Spanish lawyer. There are legitimate ways to get round the bite. It is possible, for instance, to transfer the title of your Spanish property to your close-knit family member and maintain the usufruct over the property to use it during your lifetime.

These are only general guidelines and not definitive statements of the law, all questions about the law’s applications to individual cases shall be directed to a Spanish lawyer.

If you have any question please email