People who have lost a loved one unfortunately often are faced with a lot of practical issues for the funeral and the later inheritance process. If this person wasn´t of Spanish nationality but was resident in Spain or had assets here, it´s even difficult to know where to start with all the paperwork. Is there a Spanish last will or a will signed in another country? Which inheritance law applies, the Spanish one of the law of the country of the deceased? And will the heirs need to pay any inheritance tax or not?
C&D Solicitors in Torrox, Malaga, can help you with carrying out the complete Spanish inheritance process. We can do so on a full-service base and in our office we speak several languages as English, Dutch, Swedish and German. This way you don´t have to worry about the practical side of your loss. Of course we can also advise you in signing a Spanish will according to your specific situation. You´ll read all you need to know about Spanish inheritance law on this page or you can watch our information video (below) about this subject on this page.
Signing of the inheritance deeds at the notary
To be able to inscribe the deceased´s properties -like a house, bank account or car- in name of the legal heirs it is always necessary to sign the Inheritance Deeds at the Spanish notary. Mostly this is done by a lawyer that represents the heirs through an official Power of Attorney. He will provide the notary both with the Death Certificate as with an extract of the central registry stating if there was a Spanish Last Will and, if yes, where it was signed. In this case the notary of course also needs to receive a certified copy of this Last Will.
Which inheritance law applies?
An essential question to determine in the inheritance deeds is which inheritance law applies; the Spanish or the foreign law of the deceased´s own country. In the diagram below and in our video you see that this matter is rather complex, but it´s very important as the Spanish law is rather inflexible. When it applies the biggest part of the properties always is inherited by the children or other family members. This means that if you are a married couple resident in Spain and you want the longest-living to inherit your belongings, you always need to sign a Last Will appointing your national law and your spouse as legal heir.
If the foreign law is in force additionally either a Probate document or a Declaration of the Law will be required by the notary which states who the legal heirs are according to the foreign law.
In which case do I pay inheritance or donation tax?
Nowadays inheritance or donation tax is the same for the Spanish, European residents or non-European residents in Spain but the percentage varies per autonomic state, like the Junta de Andalucia. In Andalusia heirs that are close family members like spouses, children, grandchildren or parents usually don´t pay inheritance or donation tax, but the declaration still needs to be done. Therefore, once the inheritance deeds are signed the lawyer will fill out the obliged forms and pay any taxes for heirs with another relation status. Depending on the official residency of the deceased he will send the documentation to either the Regional or National Tax Office. Next to that the lawyer will make sure that the local Plusvalue tax is paid if applicable.
Of course C&D Solicitors is happy to look at the specific fiscal case of your Spanish belongings and can advise you about future inheritances (or donations) to keep the taxes and other costs as low as possible.
Inscribing properties in name of the legal heir(s)
When the inheritance deeds are returned with the right stamps the lawyer then can take care of the correct inscription of any real estate in the name of the new owner at the Land Registry and Cadaster. This document will also serve to change the title holders of a bank account or a car. The whole process from the signing of the deeds at the notary until the end of the project takes about 3 months. When the legal work finally is completed, we of course provide our clients with all bills, proof of payments, original documentation and the final balance the total project.
Pre-search and sale of inherited property
However, as you can image, not all inheritance processes are the completely the same and sometimes it´s necessary to take extra steps. In some cases -for example if the deceased wasn´t a close relative- it´s possible that our lawyers will conduct a pre-search in the different registries to find our if the person had any unknown assets in his or her name. It´s even possible that they take care of the sale of an inherited house if the new owners don´t wish to keep it. In this scenario the client will receive the mentioned final balance after which we´ll transfer the proportional net amount of the inheritance to the bank account of the legal heirs.
We live in turbulent world that normally gives us little time to reflect over our lives and maybe too often we take our current situation for granted. However, you might wonder what would happen to your loved ones if something unfortunate were to happen to you. Are you convinced that everything is well arranged for them in a financial and legal way? Or do you still need to take action to make sure of it?
Appointing heir(s) and inheritance law through last will
Many married couples that are resident in Spain, for example, don´t know that in their future inheritance the Spanish law would apply. This means that if one of them would pass away, under Spanish law their legal assets -like their share of the house, bank account or a car- will not automatically be inherited by the longest living. If you don´t want your belongings to go to your direct family and don´t have a Last Will yet, it´s therefore necessary to sign this important legal document in front of a Spanish notary. In this Last Will you firstly can appoint the inheritance law of your OWN country, that is in most cases much more flexible than the Spanish one.
Secondly you can determine your exact wishes for the inheritance division following the regulations of your national law. And thirdly, you can choose if you want your Last Will only to apply only to your Spanish assets or to properties in all countries.
Not married or partnership inscribed in Spain? High inheritance tax!
This recommendation to sign a Last Will in favor of the longest living partner is even more important for non-married couples, as to the Spanish law you are not related. To avoid high inheritance tax they also should officially register their partnership in Spain in the Registro de Pareja de Hecho. Foreign contracts or registries are not recognized. This means that -even if there is a Last Will appointing your partner as the legal heir- he or she will pay the highest level of inheritance tax unless you are registered in the Spanish Registro de Pareja de Hecho.
Power of Attorney to a loved one
It´s also possible to combine your last will with a Power of Attorney to your loved one in which you can give him or her the right to decide about your financial or even health matters, for example in case of official mental incapacity due to dementia or another decease. In certain situations, this might save your partner or family a lot of sorrow and practical troubles.
More information Spanish inheritance law, inheritance tax or last wills
Please contact us for more information about Spanish inheritance law procedures, inheritance / donation tax or signing a Spanish will for your Spanish assets.
More information about our law firm C&D Solicitors you can watch in this video: