4 practical things you should know about making a will in Spain

As we discussed in our article 3 main reasons to have a Spanish will, if you are an expat living in Spain it is important that you understand and take care of your inheritance plan.

Today we want to cover a few additional and practical things worth knowing about wills in Spain.

1. Types of wills

In Spain there are three types of will: holographic, closed and open.

Holographic will: it must be handwritten by the testator (the person who makes the will). It has several disadvantages:

  • No guidance and advice is received by a solicitor.
  • It can be lost.
  • It is necessary to go to court to validate it when the testator dies.

Closed will: the testator goes to the notary and gives him his will which he then inserts into a sealed envelope. It also has important drawbacks such as:

  • Lack of control over the legality of the contents of the will.
  • It needs to be validated in court after the death of the testator.

Open will: it is the most common and recommended type. It is done directly before a notary and has the following advantages:

  • The original will is kept by the notary and is registered in the Registry of Last Wills, guaranteeing it won’t get lost.
  • It is not necessary to go to court after the death of the testator.
  • The solicitor can give advice if needed.

2. Documentation

When a person dies and has property in Spain, his heirs need to carry out a series of procedures and obtain certain documents. The main ones are:

  • Certificate of death. It is obtained in the Civil Registry of your last address. At least fifteen days have to have passed in order to obtain it.
  • Certificate from the Registry of Last Wills, which will indicate if you had a will in Spain, and, if so, who was the notary in charge.
  • Certificate of Life Insurance. If you have life insurance this certificate will identify the insurance company and the policy number.
  • If there is no will, your heirs will be dealing with what is called an intestacy inheritance and will need to get a Certificate of Law stating the applicable law to the inheritance.

In the case of a person of non-Spanish nationality it is possible that part of the paperwork or documents must be obtained outside Spain. When the documents affect assets or properties in Spain they must be translated by a sworn translator and have the Apostille of the Hague.

In addition to the documents discussed, it is also necessary to collect those relating to your properties:

  • Deed of ownership as well as a receipt of the last payment of the Land Value Tax.
  • Bank certificate on your account balance at the time of death, as well as any other type of financial product (funds, shares, etc.).
  • Documentation regarding any vehicles own by you.

With all the mentioned documentation, your heirs must go to the solicitor, who should inform them about what to do next.

At AvaLaw we realize that getting hold of all the necessary documents can be a big inconvenience in a moment of grief. That is why we are pleased to announce that very soon we will be launching a new service within our Wills and Probate department that will ease this process: Custody of Documents. Our Custody of Documents team lead by Roser Coll will make sure to get all the documents related to your Spanish assets and safely store them in our offices. That way accessing all relevant papers when needed will be very easy and quick.

It is important to highlight the fact that when an inheritor receives any kind of property or rights in Spain, including money linked to life insurance, he or she must pay an Inheritance Tax.

3. Inheritance Tax

This tax must be paid regardless of whether or not the heir resides in Spain in a Spanish Tax Agency office using Modelo 650.

As per the timing, the tax will have to be paid within six months from the death of the testator. The inheritor can request that this term be extended  but failure to pay the tax in time will mean an economic penalty (read our article 3 main reasons to have a Spanish will for more details about this).

The amount that one has to pay is calculated as a percentage of the value of the goods. This percentage will be higher or lower depending on multiple variables such as the degree of family uniting the deceased with the inheritor or the total value of the inheritance.

4. How much will it cost you?

The solicitor’s fees of drafting a will in Spanish and having it notarized is estimated 250 euros, copy of the same included. On the day of signature the will shall be translated to you at the Notary’s office in Spain.

However, if you want to sign your Spanish will in your home country it will have to be written in Spanish as well as your own language, using the double column system, and the cost may be higher.

As mentioned previously, at AvaLaw we are expanding our Wills and Probate service offer. Aside from Custody of Documents, we will also be launching two more services next month: Doing your Spanish Will and Probate Instruction Sheet. More information coming soon.