In Spain, priority may be given to children, parents and grandparents ahead of any surviving spouse when it comes to inheriting an estate.

So if you don’t have a will, it’s easy to see what could go wrong.

Jonathan Eshkeri from discusses how Spanish inheritance law works when there is no will.

When a person dies without a will this means that the estate is “intestate”.  The assets pass according to a fixed set of rules, called the rules of intestacy.

If a British national who owns assets in Spain dies without a Spanish Will, matters can become complicated.  It is advisable to obtain good quality independent legal advice at an early stage. 

Intestate Estates in Spain – Stage One

First, determine which law applies, and then determine who is entitled to inherit from the estate.  A specialist lawyer can help.

Intestate Estates in Spain – Stage Two

Once you know which law applies and who will inherit, you will need to sign a “declaration of heirs”, a document setting out all of the assets of the estate in Spain and the relationship of those who are entitled to inherit to the person who has died. 

Intestate Estates in Spain – Stage Three

Once the declaration of heirs has been signed you can prepare and sign the acceptance of inheritance in Spain.  This is signed before a Notary in Spain.   The assets are described and the beneficiaries are set out. 

Once the acceptance of inheritance has been signed any inheritance tax payable will become due within 30 days, unless payment of the tax has been deferred. 

When the inheritance tax has been paid you can obtain funds from any Spanish bank accounts and arrange for any property owned by the deceased to be registered in the names of the beneficiaries. 

Who inherits property in Spain?

In Spain, in the absence of a will, any children and a spouse are the legal beneficiaries.

Because of this, depending upon where you are habitually resident immediately before you die, you may only have one third of your estate to do with as you please if you have no will at all.

What is the inheritance tax threshold in Spain?

The nil rate band available to each beneficiary of a Spanish estate varies depending upon where in Spain the assets are located.

The amount of tax payable depends upon the overall value to be inherited. 

How can Spanish inheritance tax be minimised?

Each beneficiary benefits from a nil rate band.  That means that if the share of the estate they inherit is below the nil rate band, or if the available reductions are sufficient to cover the total tax payable, they will pay no inheritance tax in Spain.

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