Published at October 12, 2022
The inheritance and probate rules in Spain are radically different to England, which means that in the event of your death the administration of your estate could be more complicated, delayed, and expensive if you do not have a Spanish Will in place. If you own property or any other assets in Spain, we strongly advise that you make a Spanish Will that works alongside your English Will.
If you die without having made a Will at all, either in England or in Spain, your succession will be intestate. This means that your beneficiaries will need to look at the rules of intestacy to find out which law will apply to your succession and how they will inherit your estate. These rules of intestacy differ between Spain and England.
Spanish law recognises a Will made lawfully in any jurisdiction, so when making an English Will and listing your worldwide assets, your Spanish property and possessions will be included. You may therefore ask “why do I need a Spanish Will”, and the main reasons are the following:
- Minimalise confusion or error upon death - By making a Spanish Will, you can be certain that upon your death, your wishes will be carried out without any confusion or error. A Spanish Will is signed before a Notary Public in either Spain or your country of residence and is recorded on the Register of Lasts Wills at the Ministry of Justice in Madrid. There is no chance of it ever being lost or destroyed.
- Ease administrative burden for beneficiaries - By not making a Spanish Will and relying on a Will made according to the laws of another jurisdiction, the beneficiary charged with the administration of your Spanish estate will need to make sure they know that they are doing cross-jurisdictionally or will have to engage someone who is suitably qualified to help. There is the risk that the administration of the estate will take much longer and become very complicated.
- Ensures English Law is applied to your estate - The benefit of a Spanish Will is that it complies with the European Succession Regulation (650/2012), widely known as Brussels IV, which took effect in August 2015. This legislation provides that if an individual dies without having made a Will, or if the Will fails to clarify which law the individual wanted to govern his/her succession, the applicable law will be the law of the country of residency, not the law of his/her country of nationality. It is worth noting though that under the same EU Regulation 650/2012, it is possible to choose the law of your country of nationality to govern your estate upon death, whether you are resident in that country or not. However, it is necessary that you make a Will in which you clearly reflect your choice of law.
If you want to ensure that under any circumstances English law governs the succession of your Spanish assets, we always recommend making a Spanish Will. This way you can guarantee that English law will apply to your estate and your succession will not be subject to the rules of the forced heirship in Spain.
At Nockolds, we are specialists in both Spanish and English probate, and we can assist you in relation to the preparation of both Wills as well as providing you with legal advice to financially plan for your future and protect your assets.
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