Tag: probate

DON'T FORGET YOUR WILL IN SPAIN WITH THE NEW EUROPEAN REGULATION

DON’T FORGET YOUR WILL IN SPAIN WITH THE NEW EUROPEAN REGULATION

Renewing Spanish will 2015
Renewing Spanish will 2015

We wouldn’t want to ruin your day by talking about the “other life”, which we hope is a long way away (fingers crossed). However, because of the European Succession Regulation approved on 27 July 2012 and its upcoming application for the succession of people who die after 17 August 2015, I think it convenient to dedicate a few words to foreigners with assets in Spain.

As a starting point, this regulation establishes which jurisdiction applies to the assets of a EU national in a country of the European Union. The law applicable to the succession of a EU national, according to this Regulation, would be that of the country of habitual residence, with the ability to choose to apply the Law of his or her nationality provided that the deceased has stated this clearly and unequivocally in his or her will.

When it comes to Spain, if you are a national of a different country in the European Union but you reside and own assets in Spain, you must know that, if you do not have a Spanish will that clearly and unequivocally states that you would like the law governing your succession to be that of your nationality at the time of death, Spanish law will apply to your inheritance. What does this mean?

In Spain, there is no liberty to leave your property as inheritance to whomever you want. In Spain, the assets of the deceased are divided into three parts. Two of these parts belong to forced heirs, as follows:

  • The first part goes to each of the children in equal parts or, in the absence of children, to parents or, in the absence of the latter, to siblings.
  • The second part goes to one of the children or, if nothing has been set out, it is divided among all children in equal parts as well, as explained above.
  • The third and last part of an inheritance is the freely disposable part and this is the part that the deceased can leave to whomever he or she wishes but, to do this, there must be a will establishing this because, in the absence of a will, it will also be divided among the children in equal parts.

In Spain, a spouse comes last among forced heirs and would only inherit in the absence of these. In other words, if you are a foreigner in Spain and you reside and hold assets in our country, be aware that, if you die without a will or your will doesn’t clearly state that you would like the law of your nationality to apply, your spouse will probably inherit nothing.

The best way to prevent problems of this type is for you to execute a will in Spain and clearly state the Law you would like to apply at the time of your death.

If you happen to have a will in Spain already, it is important for you to review it and verify that it complies with the provisions of the European Succession Regulation or, in other words, that the will you have signed clearly states that your will is for the law governing your succession to be your personal law, i.e. the law of your nationality at the time of your death.

In my opinion, wills that state that “this will is valid pursuant to the personal law of the testator and said law does not cover the concept of forced heirs…” or contain similar words may cause problems under the New Regulation and, in these cases, my recommendation is to execute a new one that clearly states that you would like your succession to be governed by the law of your nationality.

I would like to clarify something that is often confused in these matters. The law governing the succession of a person in Spain is one thing, which depends on what has been explained in this article, but the tax consequences of succession in Spain are an entirely different matter. In this case, we’re referring to Inheritance Tax, which is regulated as explained in our post from March , as payment of that Tax will be due from the fact of inheriting an asset located in Spain, regardless of the Law governing your succession.

Lastly, we wish that you live for many years and you don’t have to worry too much about such unpleasant matters.

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (Lawyer)

Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

SPANISH INHERITANCE TAX: POSSIBLE CONDEMNATION AND CHANGES

SPANISH INHERITANCE TAX: POSSIBLE CONDEMNATION AND CHANGES

Did you pay too much Spanish inheritance tax?
Have you paid too much Spanish inheritance tax?

Last 27th of March 2012, the European Commission pursued an action against Spain for the breach of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Agreement on the European Economic Area, as a result of the discrimination in respect of the Spanish inheritance and gift tax, since non-residents pay more taxes than residents under the same personal conditions.

Spanish inheritance tax is managed by Spanish autonomous regions, so there are significant differences from one region to another in respect of this taxation. Each regional administration has regulated this tax in a different way. However, if the taxpayer is a non-resident, the Central State Tax Administration Office is the competent body to collect this tax payment instead of the regional government tax office. Regional government regulations are much more favourable for taxpayers than central government tax rules, since regional administrations have established tax exemptions and reductions for the inheritance and gift tax.

However, these discriminatory situations between residents and non-residents in Spain also arise between residents of the different autonomous region. In fact, last 8th of May 2013, a court order from the Spanish Supreme Court established the illegality of the inheritance regulations of the Valencian autonomous region, because these regulations allow heirs residing in this region to benefit from tax reductions against those residing in other Spanish regions who do not enjoy from this benefit.

It is expected that in the future the Spanish Constitutional Court itself rules in this respect. Furthermore, upon consideration of this inequality legal situation, it is likely that the inheritance tax may be reformed in the medium and long term in order to balance differences among the different Spanish autonomous regions.

Regarding the action against Spain, last 8th of January the hearing for this proceedings was held before the Court of Justice of the European Union. It is very likely that a judgment may be pronounced in a few months in regards of this case. If this court order condemns Spain because of this discrimination, it may give rise to a right for reimbursement of undue taxes paid to all those non-residents in Spain who paid in the last 4 years the Spanish inheritance and gift tax, provided that this payment had been higher than the tax payment corresponding to residents belonging to this Spanish region under the same circumstances.

Taxpayers may claim within 4 years. This period starts to run from the date of tax payment. For this reason, in the event of a possible ruling condemning Spain in this regard in the following months, it is very important that all those non-residents in Spain, who paid inheritance and gift tax in the last 4 years,  check if their payment was higher than the one made by a resident in the same Spanish region. If that were the case, they should claim for the refunding before the end of this 4 years period. Once this period expires, they will not be entitled to it. The submission of this tax refund claim shall stop the 4 years expiry date while it is decided if Spain is condemned for this issue.

Our law firm is at your disposal to assist you in this matter. We would offer you our service on the basis of a “no win-no fee agreement” for the submission of the aforementioned tax refund claim before the Tax Authorities, that is, you would pay nothing to us if the public administration declines this first claim.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (Lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

INHERITANCE TAX IN SPAIN AND NON RESIDENT TAXPAYERS: problems and prospects for the future

INHERITANCE TAX IN SPAIN AND NON RESIDENT TAXPAYERS: problems and prospects for the future

Discrimination non-residents inheritance tax
Discrimination non-residents inheritance tax

Currently, non-resident taxpayers face two major problems in respect to the payment of Inheritance Tax in Spain:

1. Discrimination: non-residents pay much more taxes than residents.

2. Double taxation: this tax is payable in two different countries for the same inherited property.

Discrimination

In Spain, taxes are paid for inheritance between non-residents—even though they are immediate family members, spouses, parents, children…, upon application of the government regulations, that is, a progressive scale of taxes based on the transferred property value.

However, regarding inheritance between residents—immediate family members—taxes are much lower or even not paid, as a result of the application of regional government regulations which provide very important tax exemptions.

In respect to inheritance between family members who are not immediate (siblings, uncles, nephews, etc…) and between non-family members, very high taxes shall be paid by both residents and non-residents. In this respect, there is no discrimination.

Upon consideration of this discriminatory unfair condition, it is necessary to inform that the European Commission is putting pressure on Spain to avoid this discrimination, as it is contrary to the free movement of persons and capital, one of the basic principles of the EU single market. This fact may provide a significant reduction of the inheritance tax for non-residents, at least for EU residents, because, otherwise, periodic penalty payments may be imposed to Spain.

There are some examples which can guide you to understand this issue over the figures.

Double taxation

Significant cases of double taxation are also occurring. For example, non-resident heirs are bound to pay a high inheritance tax in Spain for inherited property in Spain (money or real estate) and they shall also pay inheritance tax on the same inherited property in the country where they reside, without deduction of the taxes paid in Spain.

The problem is that Spain only has a convention for the avoidance of double taxation with France, Greece and Sweden for inheritance purposes. Double taxation conventions with United Kingdom, Germany, etc… only refer to income tax and property tax, so that double taxation conditions may occur in relation to inheritance tax.

Accordingly, the UE presented last year a global package regarding inheritance tax system just to avoid these two problems of discrimination and double taxation mentioned above.

 

At this stage and regarding that these serious problems seem to be at least in the process of being resolved in the medium term, C&D Solicitors would like to make the following recommendations:

1. If anybody loses a relative before regulations are modified and is bound to the payment of a high and discriminatory inheritance tax, a procedure could be initiated requesting the refund of the excessive tax which has been paid.

2. It is not appropriate at this moment to hurry and carry out certain actions in order to avoid or reduce inheritance tax in the future—gift inter vivos, contribution to companies, etc. These transactions may involve significant tax consequences to be analysed and as result of them you may pay now higher taxes than taxes to be saved in the future.

C&D Solicitors would rather advise you to make a will for your properties in Spain. This would be an early solution to the above mentioned problems.

“It is an unfortunate fact of life that eventually we all die. It is also unfortunate that no one can predict when that will be. It is because of these two certainties that you are never too young to make a Spanish Will.”

 

 

Author: Francisco Delgado Montilla, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

 

MAKING A WILL IN SPAIN IS ESSENTIAL

MAKING A WILL IN SPAIN IS ESSENTIAL

Importance Spanish will for heirs of both residents and non-residents
Importance Spanish will for heirs of both residents and non-residents

According to our legal and professional experience, there are many reasons for advising our clients to sign a Will before a Notary Public in Spain with regard to their property in Spain.

You cannot imagine how complex it may be for the heirs of a deceased to formally take the assets situated in Spain (properties, current account deposits, insurances, company shares or stakes … etc). when the only Will available is the one made by the deceased in his/her country of origin, or even worse, when the deceased did not make a Will in his/her country of origin.

In order for the heirs to take the said assets when the Will has been granted in the decesased´s country of origin, the heirs must have a number of documents legalised in the said country. For example, if the decesased is British, documents such as the probate and the grant of probate, among others, are required in order to distribute and formally take the property of the deceased in Spain between the heirs, in accordance with the Will made in the deceased´s country of origin.

However, if the deceased had not even made a Will in his country of origin, the procedure turns out to be more complex, as the rules of intestacy in Spain would be the ones applicable. According to which, only the deceased´s descendants and his/her widow/er would have inheritance rights, and the consent of all the interested parties would be required.

Therefore, the importance of making a Will in Spain is based on:

1)  Economic reasons: if you make a Will in Spain, the inheritance proceedings will be more economic for you heirs, as they will not have to apply for any documents in your country of origin.

2)  Time saving: If you have not made a Will in Spain, it will take longer to obtain all the necessary documents; on the same line, in the absence of a Will on the deceased´s country of origin, the intestacy procedure in Spain will take several months.

3)  Family reasons: Easier legal procedures make everything more agile and less stressing for the heirs.

To finish with, I must remind you that inheritance in Spain is subject to Inheritance Tax. Different regulations apply in each region. In Andalusia, there are a number of benefits and exemptions for a resident who dies in Andalusia, provided certain requirements are met. Therefore, residing in Andalusia (which differs from fiscal residency or from obtaining the residency card) can save a lot of money tax wise. I can assure you that I know of many people who have been living in Andalusia for a long time, and whose heirs will not be able to receive such Inheritance Tax benefits and exemptions for not having seeked professional advice.

In conclusion, if you have any assets in Spain, always make a Will and get professional advice. A professional will study your personal and family circumstances properly in order to draft a Will that suits your interests, minimising at the same time the tax implications for your heirs.

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)

Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

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