Spanish inheritance law

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Information about Spanish inheritance law

Experience: More than 10 Years with Inheritance in Spain .
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Specialised: Foreign clients to obtain their Inheritance in Spain
lucia lagunas reyes - Our Spanish inheritance law lawyer expert

Are you planning your legacy in Spain? Are you looking to claim a legacy? In this guide, you will get to learn about inheritance in Spain and how the tax system works. Note that inheritance tax in Spain applies to all citizens, which is why information shared in this piece is essential. Inheritance tax in Spain can also be referred to as the succession tax.

Everyone is required to pay progressive tax as soon as they receive an inheritance from a loved one or a friend, whether it is money, property, or any type of asset. There are national rules that apply in the entire country. However, it should be noted that inheritance in Spain tax rules differs based on region. You will understand everything after going through this piece in its entirety.

Succession Rules and Inheritance Laws in Spain

Spanish law clearly states how one can dispose of their estate. But the rules and regulations will always vary based on where you live. While these rules come from the civil code of the country, certain regulations have been put in place by autonomous communities. This implies that similar properties in different parts of Spain are treated differently as far as inheritance tax and tax liability in Spain are concerned.

The Basque Country, Aragon, Balearic Islands, Galicia, Catalonia, and Navarre have unique succession rules. In parts of the country where there are no regional regulations, the Spanish Civil Code is used. This guide is based on these nationwide rules. If you have any questions about regional regulations, feel free to let us know in the comments.

Forced Heirs Law in Spain

When it comes to property disposal in Spain, many rules must be followed. If your property is dealt with based on the Spanish Inheritance law, then forced heirs rules to apply. The forced heirs law can also be termed as the Law of Obligatory Heirs in Spain.

This implies that there are strict regulations on how you can distribute your real estate property since there is a certain percentage that should go to a close relative. Again, this is a rule that varies greatly among regions, which is why you should be familiar with Spanish Inheritance laws as they apply in your region.

Overall, forced heirship states that when someone was married before he/she passed away, the spouse has the right to keep at least 50% of jointly owned property. The remaining 50% will then be moved to the estate. The estate will then be divided into three equal portions.

  1. One third will be equally divided between surviving children
  2. The next one-third will go to surviving children, but the deceased is free to divide the Spanish property unequally or equally based on the will. The surviving spouse will then retain a life interest, also known as usufruct, in this section of the estate. This one will not be inherited by the children until the spouse dies
  3. The deceased is free to dispose of the remain one third freely in the will
  4. Suppose there are no surviving children, the surviving spouse can claim the remaining one-third of the estate, or even 50%. In case there are no parents, children, or spouse, the deceased can leave the property to anyone through a will, or title deeds abroad, or in Spain.

If you are a foreigner living in Spain, then you can’t give away anything that exceeds the freely disposed part of your estate, which translates to one-third. The rest will always be reserved for available obligatory heirs.

Inheritance Rules for Europe Expats

In 2015, some changes were made to the European Union rules. This implies that European citizens in Spain and other EU countries have the freedom to choose whether the law of their country of residence or home country applies to their estate.

Besides, the brand new rules about Spain’s gift tax and inheritance let non-residents from EEA/EU get the same treatment as a resident in Spain. These changes were made to make things easier for those looking to inherit property in Spain.

If an Expat Doesn’t Leave a Will in Spain.

In case an ex-pat dies without leaving a will and owns any kind of property, there is a cumbersome, lengthy process that will be followed. The rule is that the inheritance in Spain process should be completed within six months. In that case, the best way to handle the situation is by contacting an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

In case the death occurred in a different country, the beneficiaries of the estate must have original death certificates. Unless they issue authentic death certificates, they might not be able to complete the process successfully. In case the certificates are not written in Spanish, they must be translated and apostilled or legalized.

To either handle or claim an estate planning that belongs to someone who died without writing a will, then applying for a grant of probate is mandatory in Spain. EU citizens are allowed to apply for such grants in their own countries. Also, before these can be presented and legalized or apostilled, they must be translated.

In some cases, your lawyer will ask for a statement from the Central Registry of Spanish Wills, indicating that the testator did not have a will in Spain. Unless you do these things, you won’t be able to claim inheritance in Spain. The documents you will be asked for include;

  • Legalized copy of passport
  • Death certificate (must be translated and legalized)
  • Power of attorney from heirs
  • Spanish Tax Identification Number
  • Beneficiaries’ NIE numbers
  • Bank statements that must be up-to-date
  • Heir’s passport copies

In case no one claims the inheritance, and there are no legal heirs, or in case all available beneficiaries reject that inheritance, then that particular estate will be passed to the Spanish state.

What about Inheritance Tax in Spain?

The General Directorate of Taxes of Spain is the body that governs the Spanish succession tax and other associated reliefs. The body that this as per the Spanish Inheritance and Gift Tax Act (IGTA), is responsible for establishing a platform for regulating gift and inheritance taxes. Note that each autonomous region within Spain is free to amend tax rates and relief within their territories.

Unlike in other EU countries, in Spain, all recipients of any legacy must pay inheritance in Spain tax on each asset received following the death of the primary owner. They will also pay the same on lifetime gifts. All inherited pension funds will also attract succession tax.

Since 2015, when new laws were introduced, both residents and non residents will get the same treatment for all tax purposes regarding allowances and rates.

What are Inheritance Tax Rates?

The national government is responsible for setting Spanish inheritance tax rates. Based on the inheritance amounts, here are brackets in which they might fall. Note that the rates are subject to change, so you should keep checking reliable resources;

  • Inheritance of up to €7,993 will attract a rate of 7.56%
  • From €7,993-€31,965 will attract a rate of between 7.85 and 10.2%
  • From €31,956-€79,991 will attract a rate of between 10.2 and 15.3%
  • From €79,881-239-389 will attract a rate of between 15.3 and 21.25%
  • From €239,389-€398,778 will attract a rate of 25.5%
  • From 398,778-797,555 will attract a rate of 29.75%
  • Anything beyond €797,55 will attract a rate of 34%

What about Reducing Inheritance in Spain Tax?

In Spain, there are several tax reliefs that you can opt for. The type of relief you get is determined by the nature of the relationship between you and the deceased. When it comes to Spanish inheritance tax, there are four categories that heirs can fall into.

  • Group 1: All children fall into this category, whether adopted or natural, and within the age of 21 years and below. They will get an allowance of €47,859.
  • Group 2: All children, natural or adopted and over the age of 21, spouse, grandchildren, and grandparents/guardians, including adoptive, belong to this category. They will get an allowance of €15,957. In some regions, unmarried partners are also recognized and, therefore, qualify for allowances.
  • Group 3: Uncles, nieces, aunts, siblings, nephews, and in-laws belong in the third group and will get an allowance of €7,993 each.
  • Group IV:Cousins, all other relatives, and unmarried partners, and those who are unrelated will not get any type of allowance.
  • Those who are disabled will receive an allowance of either €50,254 or €47,859, based on the extent of disability.

There are many regions in Spain, and each of them is free to revise the tax allowance for the groups at will. This is the reason you are encouraged to keep checking if there are any updates. For instance, Andalucia, Cataluna, and Valenciana issue a lot of inheritance tax reductions for children and spouses. To stay in the know, you want to keep checking with regional authorities to find out how much you owe in terms of Spanish inheritance tax.

Inheritance Tax for Spouses

At the time of writing this guide, there was no general exemption between married couples. The same applies in other EU countries. Suppose a married couple resides in Spain, the surviving spouse automatically becomes liable to inherit everything left behind by the deceased. All these are subject to applicable reliefs and allowances.

In Spain, both married and unmarried couples have the same rights when it comes to inheritance in certain regions in the country. Also, all children below the age of 21 years are free to apply for yearly exemptions until they hit the age of 21 years.

Property and Tax Exemptions

If you didn’t know, Spain has tax exemptions or reliefs for a property. The overall inherited value of a given property attracts up to 95% in the form of an allowance against its primary value, up to around €122,606.47 per beneficiary.

Note that this type of deduction only applies to groups one and two as described above, or if a loved one who is 65 years and above was living with the deceased for a period of not less than two years.

If the heirs acquire the property and fail to sell it within the first five years of inheritance in Spain, they can apply and claim more tax allowance.

Gift on Taxes in Spain

Spain, as a country, handles inheritance in Spain and taxes on gifts together. The inheritance tax will become due as soon as there is an increase in wealth due to the death of a third party. Gift on tax, on the other hand, becomes due when there is an increase in tax due to presents originating from a living person, even if you offered them some financial services and now they are gifting you.

These types of gifts have a complex definition. For instance, if someone lets you use their house, then that would attract gift tax. Before receiving a gift from anyone, it is vital to find out the type and amount of tax it would end up attracting.

Closing Thoughts spanish inheritance law for non residents

If you are in Spain and you have a property, you have to come up with a well-written will. This is the best way to prevent any confusion that might happen when beneficiaries want to inherit the legacy that you have left behind for them. There are online templates that you can use to write a will for your heirs in Spain.

Note that this guide is created at a time when the facts mentioned above are still very applicable. However, to ensure that you are safe, it is important to stay up to date. Thus, be sure to confirm with the regional authorities if there are any changes made.

If someone dies, and you are the one to inherit their property, make sure to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. As you do this, you should start working on acquiring their death certificate. If the certificate is written in a language other than Spanish, for it to be legalized, you must have it translated.

If you have any questions, do let us know in the comments. We will ensure that you get the best assistance so that you don’t lose a chance to inherit the property you were left for.

Why choose us for your Spanish inheritance law?

We are a Spanish law firm with more than 10 years of experience. We are specialists in immigration and real estate. We respond in less than 3 hours to all your questions or we schedule a call to resolve all the doubts of the client.

We are experts in obtaining Spanish inheritance law so many clients speak well of us on the internet. If you need help with Spanish inheritance law, contact us!

17 thoughts on “Spanish inheritance law

  1. Aubrey |

    My parents passed away and I would like to know how to get the property they had in Spain, can you help me with our inheritance?

    1. My Spain Visa |

      One of our lawyers will contact you shortly.

  2. Pi Townsend |

    I am inheriting from my sister in Spain. I live in England. A lawyer there is dealing with it all – including Spanish inheritance tax, as I have granted him Power of Attorney.
    My question is – when it is all dealt with, and the remainder comes to me in England, do I have to pay inheritance tax here too?
    Many thanks

    1. Anna - Lawyer of My Spain Visa |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions about inheritance in Spain.


  3. Arturo Martin |

    My father was born in Spain and died in Spain, I know he had some property and a bank account. How do I know if there is anything I can claim as his son. I live in the US.

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions about Inheritance in Spain.


  4. Peter Christopher Alexander Burt |

    My father was a UK born citizen ,who lived in Albatera until his death in December 2019, he has left a 3 bedroomed apartment.
    The Spanish will states 20% to his only child ( Peter Christopher Alexander Burt),80% goes to a girlfriend.
    My late fathers girlfriend is 77, and married, and is not able to pay €15,500 inheritance tax to the Spanish Notary, so I don’t get my 20% share of the Spanish Will.

    What can be done?

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions about inheritance in Spain.


  5. Luis Busto |

    Good afternoon. I would like to know my rights. My father was born in Asturia, Spain. He immigrated to Cuba at the age of 18 and married and had 3 children, 2 in Cuba and one in the US. He moved to the US and became a US citizen. He purchased a property in Spain in his 70’s and upon his death the property was given to my sister left on his will. Do I have any rights to it in Spain? She claims that the laws in Spain do not apply because he was a US citizen. My question is if that is accurate and I have no right to that property.

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions about inheritance in Spain.


  6. Maria Negulescu |

    Hi I will need someone to reach out to me I have this
    Issue and need a person to work with it on.

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions about inheritance in Spain


  7. Catherine Alexander |

    You should have a Spanish Solicitor who can go through the process for you concerning forced heir rules. You must apostle your documents such as your birth certificate and any other documents that prove who you are and that you are the child of the deceased. You should inherit just the same as any heir after that.

  8. Salifu Leigh |

    My father he lived in Spain but he suddenly passed away in 2019 and he owns a property in Spain. I am the son and am facing lots of problems on the inheritance I need your help please!!

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to explain about inheritance in Spain.


  9. Lynda CECALA |

    My husband Lived in USA. He made a will in USA leaving money to me. He moved to Spain and died suddenly. He DID NOT OWN PROPERTY. His will, the original, has been sent back to USA to be APOSTILLISED. It then needs to be translated into Spanish. The notary told me this. What happens if the original was lost. I have copies of it. What would be the plan. I hope it will soon be returned but the mail is so slow.

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to explain all the process.


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