A WILL in Spain. Do you want to donate or gift your property to your descendants or another family member. We can help you with all the legal process.
Wills in Spain
Given the country’s forced heirship system, wills in Spain are not a legal requirement. Spanish law recognizes foreign wills if they concern property and assets in Spain. However, for such wills to be enforceable in Spain, they must be legalized before a Spanish consul (or affixed with an apostille in signatory countries) and translated into Spanish.
This process can sometimes be more expensive than drawing up a Spanish will. A Spanish will can also save time as using a foreign will from certain countries (such as the United Kingdom) means waiting for the Grant of Probate to be issued. This is worth bearing in mind given that the inheritance process needs to be completed within six months of the date of death to avoid penalties from the Spanish tax offices.
It is worth noting that foreigners may have more than one will. These must be in separate countries, such as in their home country and in Spain. A will made by a foreigner regarding Spanish assets isn’t invalidated because it doesn’t bequeath property in accordance with Spanish law. Spanish law isn’t usually applied to foreigners and the disposal of property (buildings or land) in Spain is governed by the law of the deceased’s home country. However, if there is a dispute among the beneficiaries, Spanish law applies.
In the case of foreign residents who haven’t left a will or haven’t stipulated the laws of another country, Spanish inheritance law will apply, as will the Law of Obligatory Heirs.
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Conditions for writing a will in Spain
Spanish laws of succession outline a few requirements for anyone writing a will. These vary by region; your main residence determines which rules apply to your estate. All wills in Spain must comply with the following formalities to be considered valid:
- The will must prove your identity and capacity to testate.
- You must be over the age of 14 – except in cases of holographic wills, where the cut-off is 18 years.
- You cannot delegate the creation of your will to someone else.
- Joint wills are forbidden.
You may create and revoke an infinite number of wills in Spain. Signing a new will automatically revokes previous ones. Wills executed before a public notary in Spain are listed with the Register of Last Wills in Madrid. Upon your death, the most recent signed will entered into the Register will be deemed valid.
Types of wills in Spain
There are several different types of wills in Spain. The three listed below are the most common:
- Holographic will: a handwritten Spanish will authenticated by two witnesses and verified by a judge.
- Open will: a Spanish will made before two witnesses and given to a notary who registers it.
- Closed will: a Spanish will made in secret and sealed in an envelope, then given to a notary for registration.
Other types of wills in Spain include military wills, maritime wills and wills granted by Spanish nationals in a foreign country, but these are rarely used.
How to write wills in Spain
If you choose to draw up a Spanish will, you’ll need to adhere to a specific style and format. For example, the will needs to be drawn up in two columns – one in Spanish, and one in your own language, approved by an official translator. A solicitor or professional will writer can guide you through the process.
The process of drafting the three main types of wills in Spain is summarized in brief below:
- Holographic Spanish will: This Spanish will is the simplest and cheapest to draw up, although it is the easiest to challenge and takes longer to execute. It is handwritten, signed and dated and can be voluntarily registered at the Spanish will registry (Registro Central de Ultimas Voluntades) in Madrid. The will is authenticated by a judge upon the death of the testator.
- Open Spanish will: This is the most common form of Spanish will. The will is prepared by a notary to comply with the necessary guidelines and then signed by the testator and two witnesses. It is registered with the Spanish will registry and the testator receives a copy.
- Closed Spanish will: This type of Spanish will is prepared by the testator with the help of a solicitor to ensure it complies with guidelines. It is then sealed in an envelope which is signed by a notary and two witnesses. The notary then registers the will.