Why should you have a Spanish Will?
We always strongly advise clients with assets in Spain such as property, bank accounts or business interests, to make a separate Spanish will (testamento) in addition to their will in the UK.
There are ten good reasons for this:-
- The issue of which jurisdiction applies is complex and can have very significant results. The only way to guarantee that the laws of England and Wales or of Scotland as appropriate apply is to have a valid will for Spanish assets with the necessary provisions.
- If you have made only an English will dealing with all of your assets, wherever they may be, it might or might not be valid for your Spanish assets but there will inevitably be a long delay as you would first have to obtain probate in the UK.
- In Spain, inheritance tax must be paid within six months of death failing which interest or penalties apply. It is far more likely that the tax will be paid on time if you have a valid Spanish will.
- There can be unnecessary delays, while enquiries and searches are made, if your loved ones believe that you made a Spanish will but you did not.
- Making a valid will which sets out how you wish your Spanish assets to be distributed avoids arguments and uncertainty at a time which is already difficult for your family and friends.
- It is important that if you have two wills they do not contradict or invalidate each other so ideally they should be made together by the same firm of lawyers.
- There are different rules in the UK and Spain relating to the legal requirements of a valid will, for example how many witnesses are required. It should not be assumed that an English will would be valid and enforceable in Spain.
- If Spanish law is applied to your Spanish assets they must be divided equally between certain beneficiaries whether or not that is what you want as the law of compulsory heirs applies.
- The liability to pay inheritance tax in Spain is complex and the way in which a will is prepared can significantly increase or reduce the tax liability.
- Under Spanish law the executors of the will can be treated in a different way to the executors of an English will. For example, the whole estate need not be held by the executors which can affect the liability to pay inheritance tax.
All of this all means that having a Spanish Will can make the process of dealing with your estate in Spain less stressful, time consuming, more tax efficient and cheaper.
New European Legislation came into force in 2015. Please click here to read more about The European Union Succession Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 (“the EU Succession Regulation”) and how it may affect you.