We would like to take this opportunity to inform you that a Regulation was passed in 2012 (REGULATION (EU) No 650/2012 LINK), allowing EU citizens to leave their Spanish property according to their own national law, instead of the law of their country of residence. It is required to make a Spanish Will in which you state that you wish to leave your property according to UK law and that the Will only applies to your Spanish assets.
NEW REGULATION 2015
This law will came into force in Spain in 2015, so all non-Spanish owners of properties in Spain (residents or non residents), should make a Spanish Will ASAP. In fact, having a property in Spain without making a Will can be a very risky and ultimately a costly decision for you and your legal heirs. Why?
Because without a Will, inheritance expenses can be prohibitively high (in Probate or Grant of letters of Administration’s costs, plus swore translations and compulsory legalization of documents, legal fees, etc)
Beneficiaries will face a lengthy and stressful Spanish legal process to claim their Spanish inheritance, whilst a standard inheritance procedure can just take around 3 months where the testator has made a Spanish Will.
Because if someone dies without making his or her wishes clear in a Spanish Will, there is a possibility that the Spanish rules on intestacy might apply. Spanish intestate Law differs greatly from UK Inheritance Rules. Whereas the UK law permits individuals, within reason, to leave their assets to whom they choose, the Spanish law imposes strict rules as to inheritance by family members. This is particularly appropriate in situations where there has been more than one marriage and several children from different marriages. According to the Spanish Rules of intestacy, all children (irrespective of the marriage), would have a preferential equal entitlement to claim their own share. Therefore, if you plan to leave your Spanish property and assets to your heirs without wishing for them to suffer delay and escalating costs, then you ought to make a Will in Spain before you pass away. Likewise, remember that when making several Wills in different jurisdictions, you can have for example an UK Will that might cover your UK interests and your Spanish Will that will cover only your Spanish interests. However, bear in mind that the Wills must be clear on which assets each Will pertains to cover, as well as the appointed beneficiaries. Moreover, it is essential to mention clearly that the scope of the Spanish Will must include any present or future properties or assets, located in Spain only. Otherwise, the Wills could be accidentally invalidated and as a result, the testator’s actual wishes completely overridden.
On the other hand, we have detected an increasing number of people (usually family members) who contact us when they find out that their loved ones have passed away in Spain. Usually our clients are unaware of whether their parents or friends had a Spanish Will or not, they usually come to our offices without having any clue about the number and specific location of the assets and properties owned by the testator. This situation of uncertainty frequently leads to a lot of stress and delay, which finally results in escalating costs and significant inconvenience derived from having to request a lot of additional certificates from the Spanish Authorities, which sometimes are not easy to obtain.
PREVENT UN PLEASANT SITUATION
Subsequently, in order to prevent this unpleasant situation from happening, it is crucial that you carefully follow these very important final instructions and in case you have any questions or doubts, please do not hesitate to contact us for further clarification or advice:
1º.- We strongly recommend that your Spanish Will is signed shortly after purchasing your property and that you also update your Spanish Will, by that we mean that your current Will might no longer reflect your present day wishes, your personal situation may have changed substantially, for instance getting married, divorced, having new children, etc. Having said that don’t worry if you change your passport number or your address, you will not need to change the Will. However, it is strongly advisable that you also keep your lawyer informed of changes in your personal details.
2º.- Keep all your paperwork in order and let your beneficiaries know where it is kept. This includes local vehicle tax payments, proof of property rates payments, title deeds, mortgage contracts and details of joint bank accounts, etc. To that end, we strongly advise that you give your beneficiaries a copy of the Spanish will together with a comprehensive list or inventory of all your assets located in Spain. Or if you are not comfortable doing that, make sure your lawyer knows exactly what your assets are.
3º.- Do not forget to provide your next of kin or beneficiaries, with our contact details, in order to avoid huge delays (and increased tax liabilities later on), this will also allow our firm to provide your beneficiaries with immediate friendly and effective help and advice, at a time when it is most needed. Although the Spanish will is notarized and register at the Last Will Registry in Madrid,- for our client’s peace of mind,- a simple copy of the will is always safely and confidentially kept in secure storage in our premises together with an electronic copy of the will in PDF format, available to our clients at any time.
At AFCONSULTING PRO LAWYERS, we recognise that owning a Spanish property can lead to uncertainty about your foreign obligations and we highly recommend that you plan well ahead before or immediately after you buy the property, to ensure you have a Spanish Will.
A Will is one of the most important documents that you will sign in your lifetime, failing to take expert professional advice can result in mistakes and missed opportunities to save tax which, in the long run, can prove to be extremely costly and upsetting for families and loved ones. At AFCONSULTING PRO LAWYERS, we are proficient with the wording required, every Will we draw up is in both English and Spanish. You just need to provide us with your details, tell us to whom you wish to leave your property and we will draw up, or update, your Spanish Will at a very competitive fee. We hope this information is useful and should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org