Spanish wills for expats

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Information about Spanish wills for expats

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Specialised: Spanish Will for Expats
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Do you need a Spanish Will? If you own property in Spain it is highly recommended to have a Spanish Will.

Owning assets will many a times require a person to draft a will on how the assets will be divided or shared once they have passed on. If you own assets in Spain including property it is important to create a will that will see to the assets being divided according to your wishes after death.
When you create a will the document must be legally drawn up by a person who is legally qualified to do so. An individual is allowed to write his will without being an expert in the field, however there are rules that must be followed when drafting the will so as to make sure it is accepted by an authority such as the court. You cannot have a will written by someone who has not been appointed or authorized to do so.

From MySpainVisa we help thousands of foreigners to write their wills and not to have any problem. If you need help with your will in Spain contact us.

FAQ about Spanish will

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Do you really need a Spanish will?

If you live in Spain and own assets there, having a Spanish will is important as it is the only legal document that can be used to distribute your assets after death. The Spanish Wills Act approves the use of both a Spanish testamentary or legalistic will. A testamentary will has basically the same meaning in Spain as in any other country.

Does an English will override a Spanish will?

Many clients are often warry of making a will due to fear that Spanish authorities may fail to recognize the will. However this is not usually the case Since under Spanish law any will that has been made legally is recognized despite the jurisdiction that the will was made. In Spain, the will can be made either in the official language of Spanish or in English. It is however recommended to have a Spanish translation of your will to avoid any confusion when it comes to distribution of assets. Unlike in many other countries, a Spanish will cannot be challenged in Spanish courts if it has been legally made and drawn up by a qualified lawyer.

What is the cost of a Spanish will?

Wills in Spain are usually drafted by lawyers who are qualified to do so. They are charged as per the rates of a given firm, although depending on the size of the estate and number of beneficiaries, not all lawyers will charge the same rate. Some firms also charge extra for drafting the will in a language other than Spanish but this is also dependent on the firm. Contact us explaining your Spanish will and we will give you a free quote.
Under Spanish law an executor of a will has to be named in the will and must be of legal age to act as an executor, that is over 18 years. This person is responsible for distribution of assets according to your wishes.

How do you write a will in Spain?

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To draw up a Spanish will you will need to meet with a lawyer, who will then draft the document for you. Make sure to get a qualified lawyer to draft your will. Typically there is no legal requirement on how much money an estate holder has to leave, and the language of the will can be however it is that you choose.
A Spanish testamentary or legalistic will must have 4 parts:

  1. A brief statement of your wishes and their validity.
  2. A list of the assets that you own.
  3. A list of the beneficiaries who will benefit from the estate.
  4. Finally a final confirmation statement of your wishes and their validity.

How do I get a copy of a Spanish will?

Once you have drafted your will it should be signed, dated and then witnessed by 2 persons who are not beneficiaries of the estate. The witnesses must sign in the same place as you and there must also be a clause stating that they witness you signing under your free will.
If you live permanently in Spain or come from Spain or an European Union country, then according to Spanish law your original will can be drawn up in Spanish, English or French. After you lawyer has verified the document you may obtain a copy of the will for yourself while your lawyer will also keep a copy.

Do I need a Spanish will if I own property in Spain?

If you own property in Spain it is important that you have a will drawn up, so as to avoid having your assets distributed according to the rules that apply in Spain. Make sure that you have a legally qualified lawyer draft your will or the will may not be accepted by the authorities. You may wish to seek legal advice from English speaking lawyers who specialize in Spanish law. Will making services are provided by lawyers who practice Spanish law, and not all lawyers are guaranteed to be experts on drafting wills for foreign clients.

Spanish inheritance law

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The Spanish Civil Code of 1917 is the main legal source that governs the law of succession. The most relevant sections are those which address property, inheritable rights and obligations, this includes the first part of article 22: “The Legally Administered Property” and articles 26 to 31 on inheritance This law governs inheritance in Spain. The Spanish inheritance law applies to any person who is a Spanish resident or owns assets in Spain. This means that if you own assets in Spain there is a good chance you will be affected by the Spanish inheritance law system.
Property owned in Spain or any other country by a person who dies in another country will only be released to beneficiaries according to rules set out by the country where he or she died.
If a person dies in Spain his or her property will be passed down in accordance with the law. In Spain the beneficiary of an estate is either the deceased person’s spouse or civil partner, their dependent children under 18 years old, their descendants at any degree or natural persons that were dependents of the deceased person at the time of his or her death. In the event of your passing without a Will then your property will be shared according to the inheritance law and may not benefit the people that you wished.

Do Spanish wills need to be signed?

A Spanish testamentary or legalistic will need to be signed by you and witnesses of the will. If you are unable to sign your will then a witness to sign on your behalf.

How many witnesses do I need?

In Spain 2 witnesses are required to sign a will. There are exceptions to this rule and you may also require others if your will does not have the required number of signatures.

Who can administer an estate in Spain?

If you leave property in Spain it will be managed by a professional administrator that has the relevant education, experience and expertise. The administrator’s role is to execute the wishes of the deceased person who gave instructions in his or her Will. To do this it is necessary that they have delegated their management role to the administrator who in turn has signed an agreement to act upon the instructions given by you in your Will. The administrator will begin the execution of the wishes in the will once they has been a grant of probate.

What is a grant of probate?

A grant of probate is a document which transfers the power of managing the estate to the administrator. This can be done by either a formal grant or simply an instruction from you to your executor. The document must be signed by you and all accompanying witnesses.

Spanish wills for expats for non residents

One may obtain a Spanish will if they are non-residents in Spain but still own property in the country. The non-resident must obtain a Spanish will in their country of origin, and then either have it notarized (signed by a notary public) or translated into Spanish.

Spanish Inheritance Tax

Spanish inheritance tax may be charged if one decide to leave property and assets to other members other than their spouse. Spanish inheritance tax is calculated based on the value of the assets split between those who inherit from the deceased person. The calculation is based on a set of rules that divide up the amount that has been inherited by different recipients. However, one may leave property to their spouses tax free if they are a resident in Spain.

Does Spanish will apply to your real estate?

If you own property in Spain then it is very likely that your Spanish estate will be subject to the Spanish law. This is especially feasible if you live in Spain, or have Spanish nationality or have links to Spain. Article 29 of the Spanish Civil Code sets out which aspects of inheritance law apply to non nationals. With this in mind it is important to note will drawn legally will also apply to your estate and any other Spanish property that you may wish to include in the will. It is important to ensure that you do not leave your assets unattended when drafting the will.

What will happen to my bank account?

As long as the will is in Spanish and if all the other conditions are met, then it is likely that your bank account will automatically transfer to the beneficiaries. However, if you live in Spain and have an account that you do not want to transfer to a beneficiary, then this will be possible. In this case one should contact their bank as soon as possible so that they can formally state their desire not to have the account transferred. Ensure that you have consulted with your lawyer before making these decisions and after you have made it so that the funds are channeled in the right place.

Does the Spanish will cover your Spanish assets and Spanish properties?

Yes, this will be the case if you have property in the country. Spanish wills typically do not involve assets that are located outside of Spain. Should your will involve investing outside of Spain you should use caution as there are always exceptions to this rule.

Can I make a Spanish will on my own?

Spanish wills are drawn up by lawyers, not by the people who leave their assets. If you do not have the relevant experience in this field then it is recommended that you get in contact with a professional lawyer. The lawyer can prepare your will and have it signed by other people that you have asked to sign it as witnesses.

Reasons that You should obtain a Spanish will.

1. To protect your surviving children or dependents

Even if you do not have a spouse, it is important to protect your children from the collection of debts. You want them to live free and be confident that you were doing all that you could for them. You want to see that your kids are set for life and are not burdened with the debts that they could have been burdened with otherwise. To ensure this, the will provides them the money which they deserve without being forced to work tirelessly in order to earn enough money.

2. To help Spanish authorities determine the choice of law

Upon your death your property may be subject to different laws if you had not drafted a will, or even if you had one but it was not drawn up correctly by a lawyer. For example if you had an habitual residence in Spain your property may be subject to either Spanish law or your country’s law. Your Spanish will should specify the governing law of your estate so that the authorities can determine which laws apply to your assets. This is important because Spain has different inheritance laws as compared to other countries.

3. To protect yourself from being attacked legally

If you had no will at all, then your assets may be distributed differently than you had originally planned. Rules of intestacy may be used by the courts to distribute your assets. The beneficiaries you have in mind may also not receive the share that they had planned to have, or they could be delayed in receiving them. It is always best to have a will so that you alone determine your assets and how they are distributed upon your death.

4. To maintain power over your assets

A will protects you from others intervening with your property even after your death. The beneficiaries named in the will are the only people that can access the properties under those terms. You are leaving instructions on what to do with what you have left behind after your death, and this makes a huge difference in what your children’s inherits and how your property is handled.

Why you should hire a lawyer to draft your Spanish will

1. A lawyer will help you plan yours estate and reduce inheritance tax

A lawyer will help you plan your estate so that you can reduce inheritance tax when the time comes. A good lawyer will ensure that your assets are spread out and that they are distributed by the laws of Spain. They will make sure that your wishes are followed and this is something many people take for granted only to be disappointed at a later date.

2. Save you the hustle of translating and executing the will

If you do not hire a lawyer to draft your will, you will be responsible for translating the will and also executing it by selecting the right person to do this. This is a huge commitment as all of the assets that you have will be distributed by this document. It is better to let a professional translate and execute your will so that they can ensure that it is done correctly.

3. They will offer legal advice

A good lawyer will always advise you of what you should and should not do when drafting a will. They will guide you through the process of making your wishes and plans known. They will help you plan your estate, they may even offer suggestions on how to reduce estate tax and they can provide solutions in the event that there is a problem.

4. To ensure that your will is legal and valid

Without a lawyer you will have to make sure that your will is valid by the law in Spain. Otherwise it could be considered invalid which may complicate the distribution of your assets upon your death. If you are not familiar with Spanish laws then it would be a good idea to let someone who is, draft and execute your will for you. You want to ensure that this document is valid in all aspects so that there are no problems when distributing your estate at a later date.

5.Removing the barriers and bridging the gaps

One of the main factors that make Spanish wills an important document are those that can ease a person’s future. There are many rules and laws in Spain to handle these situations and this can be quite a hassle especially if you try to do it alone. On the other hand, when you have an experienced lawyer on your side, they will remove these barriers and bridge the gaps so that no one gets left behind. It is also important to note that when you have properties in different areas lawyers will ensure that such differences are bridged and your wishes executed.

Conclusion of Spanish Wills for expats

A Spanish will is a document that is of utmost importance to protect your children, assets and wishes. It is important to have it drafted by a lawyer so that your assets are spread out and paid out according to your wishes. Without this document, frustrated heirs and spouses may challenge or even go against the will in court or try to collect on the debts that they claimed should have been paid out under the will. This is not something that you want to see happen. You should always make sure that your Spanish will is drafted by a lawyer and executed with care so that no one gets left out in the cold upon your death. You may consider these services from an qualified lawyer in Spain .
If you are looking for an international law firm in who specializes in drafting Spanish wills and trusts, please contact us at My Spain Visa. We have a team of experienced Spanish lawyers who can assist you. We work with men, women and families to ensure that you get the help you need so that your wishes are carried out. We offer excellent legal services at attractive prices and we have lawyers who can speak multiple languages such as English, French and Spanish, among others. To schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers please visit us at My Spain Visa.
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We are experts in obtaining Spanish wills for expats so many clients speak well of us on the internet. If you need help with Spanish wills for expats, contact us!

2 thoughts on “Spanish wills for expats

  1. DAVID |

    I have bought a property in Spain and I want to make a will, I am British and I am a bit lost with Spanish wills, can you help me?

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions about Spanish will .


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