Leaving Inheritance in Spain: Make Sure You Plan Your Wills and Inheritance.

Prepared wills for clients from over 60 different countries

The first law firm providing a complete, professional custody service for your documents and information regarding your Spanish assets

15 years of experience in international inheritance matters


The objective of AvaLaw is to minimise taxes and bureaucracy for you when receiving or leaving properties in Spain as inheritance. With the three services of AvaLaw in this field (wills, inheritance and custody) you will have all the Spain-related inheritance matters under control.

Do you have assets in Spain? Have you thought about what happens to those assets when you pass away?Who inherits your assets in Spain?
What laws will be applied to your inheritance?
What can you do now to reduce the red tape, costs and inheritance taxes for your heirs?

  • Are you about to receive an inheritance including assets in Spain?
  • Do you know how to get these assets in your name?
  • What do you have to do in order to get ownership of the inherited assets?
  • What taxes and costs will you have to pay?

FAQs about wills and inheritance in Spain

No, the assets are frozen from the moment of death and the estate (the heirs combined) cannot take any legal action regarding the assets before completing the probate proceedings in Spain, paying the correspondent taxes and costs, and in the case of real estate, registering the property in the beneficiary’s name at the Land Registry in Spain.

Any assets located in Spain are subject to Spanish Inheritance Tax. The Inheritance Tax paid by the non-residents is the same as the tax paid by residents in Spain. The Inheritance Tax is regulated by the Autonomous Community where the property is located, any reductions and bonuses applicable to the residents of that particular Autonomous Community shall be also applicable to non-residents.

Apart from the Inheritance Tax, in cases where the heirs inherit real estate properties, the heirs shall pay the so called Plusvalía Tax based on the increase of value of the land from the day the deceased acquired the property up to the date of the death.

Other costs to claim the inheritance are:

  • Notary fees. Approximately 1.000 euros
  • Registry fees. Approximately 800 euros
  • Bilingual power of attorney. Approximately 250 euros
  • Legal fees. Approximately 1 % of the value of the estate, minimum 3.000 euros.

Yes, you can do some tax planning at the moment of signing your will. The exact tax rules depend on each autonomous community, so each case must be studied separately.

The laws of some countries, for example the UK, allow you to leave your assets freely to anyone you choose. Some countries on the other hand, such as Spain or Finland, have limited the free will in favor of the children. For that reason the law applicable to your inheritance is important. Generally, the applicable law is the law of your nationality. However, within the EU, the applicable law to your inheritance is the law of your country of residence unless you define the law applicable otherwise in your Will.

European Union is setting up a single will system, which means that if you already have a will in one EU-member country, you do not need to make another one in Spain anymore for the properties here. In principle, nothing should go wrong for the Europeans, even if you do not have a Spanish will. However, anyone who has ever tried to fill in the forms of the European Inheritance Certificate and execute the inheritance based on the certificate, knows that in practice the system does not work perfectly. The Spanish will remains the cheapest and easiest way to avoid problems and surprises regarding the applicable law and other issues.

For non-European citizens, the Spanish Will is an absolute must. If you pass away without a Will, the process for your heirs is significantly more complex, bureaucratic, time-consuming – and much more expensive.

You can do it any time in front of a Spanish Notary just by signing a new will. The last will is always the valid will.

Less than 600 euros per person, including all the fees and costs, notaries, taxes and other expenses.

When you pass away, do your heirs know where and how to locate your assets in Spain – and what to do to get the title of the assets? Where can they find the information regarding your Spanish will, real estate, utilities, service providers, bank accounts, insurances and vehicles? Without the information, they cannot claim the inheritance.

AvaLaw offers a safekeep for all your information regarding Spain offering one convenient electric or physical file so that you, or your heirs when the time comes, can easily access this information.

The only thing you need to leave to your heirs is the information of the existence of the file.

The following actions are necessary for the acceptance procedure of the inheritance in Spain:

  1. Identifying the assets the deceased has in Spain. The assets may constitute for instance real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, pensions, insurances, deposits and other investments. If the deceased has used the custody service of AvaLaw, there is no problem what so ever regarding this matter. If not, there is always a risk that some assets may remain unidentified.
  2. Granting your Spanish lawyer power of attorney.
  3. Finding out if the deceased has a Spanish Will regarding his or her Spanish assets.
  4. If applicable, obtaining the certificate of the Last Wills Registry in Spain.
  5. In the event that there is no Spanish will, obtaining the legalised and sworn translated certificates regarding the content of the applicable law from the country of origin, or in the case that the deceased is a European citizen, when applicable, obtaining the EU-certificate of inheritance.
  6. Calculating the applicable inheritance tax and other costs resulting from your inheritance. It is always easy to pay the maximum taxes, but in case you wish to pay the legal minimum, you need Avalaw or any another experienced tax advisor to help you in the possible deductions. The deductions in international cases are very complex and continuously changing.
  7. Accepting the inheritance in front of the Spanish notary in Spain.
  8. In cases where the properties or assets require registering, for instance real estate, vehicles and boats, the registration in the name of the beneficiary as the new owner at the correspondent Spanish registry.

Having a Spanish Will concerning your assets in Spain will significantly reduce the cost, bureaucracy and time when transferring your assets to your heirs. You also have the opportunity for tax planning in order to save significant amounts in taxes. Additionally, having a Spanish Will helps you to avoid nasty surprises regarding the applicable legislation, if you are an EU-citizen living in Spain. Under the new European Union Regulation, if you have your habitual residence in Spain and you want your national law to be applicable to your succession, you should sign a Spanish Will. In the will the law applicable must be expressly mentioned, otherwise the Spanish laws will apply.

The AvaLaw inheritance planning and Will service consist of the following:

  • Advising you on planning the succession of your properties in Spain to minimise the inheritance tax. The matters to be considered in the planning are for instance the number of heirs and the method of the transfer of assets.
  • Drafting a Spanish will that reflects the above mentioned plan.
  • Organising the signing of the will in front of a Spanish notary.
  • Registering of the will in the registry of the last wills in Spain.
  • Considering your global inheritance plan and making sure that the will or any other possible arrangements in Spain do not interfere in an unwanted way with the inheritance plan outside of Spain.
  • Making sure that the law applicable to your inheritance is the one you intended it to be. The new European Union regulation took effect the 17th of August 2015 and may have effects on your will.

Having more doubts? Book a free consultation with our lawyers now. 

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Hi, I’m Lourdes

I’m an international lawyer with expertise in international inheritance.
I’ll be happy to help you answer your questions regarding wills and inheritance, so don’t hesitate to contact us!