A Spanish will can be as simple as you wish!
If you are a foreign national with assets in Spain, a will is essential, because otherwise, your estate will be divided according to Spanish law, which may not mirror your own wishes.
Written with the advice and co-operation of Francisco Belda Montesinos, Notary, Denia
As the end of 2020 approaches, and people regularise their residential position in Spain with an eye on Brexit, the news is full of information and advice about all kinds of things, including making a will. If you are a foreign national with assets in Spain, a will is essential, because otherwise, your estate will be divided according to Spanish law, which may not mirror your own wishes. For this reason, it makes sense to have a Spanish will, even if you already have a will covering your worldwide assets in your country of origin.
Advantages of making a Spanish will:
Here in Spain, even if a lawyer draws up your will, it must be signed and witnessed in the presence of a Notary. That’s to ensure that you are of sound mind when you write it, and that you have disposed of your assets willingly, without coercion from anyone else. It’s another level of security for yourself and for those you leave behind.
Another benefit of the Spanish method of will making is that once the will is made, it’s unlikely to get lost. The Notary will register your will with the Central Registry of Wills in Madrid, then store the original in his office. The only way it will ever leave the office is if the original Notary retires or dies, and even then it will stay in the original locality. So there’ll be no paper chasing for your heirs and executors when the time comes.
Your Spanish will is complementary to any other will you have made, and it will simplify the division of assets after your death. Also, it circumvent the strict order of inheritance under Spanish law, allowing you to dispose of your assets as you wish.
Making a Spanish will can be quick, easy and often cheaper than in other countries. It’s possible to have your will written up by the Notary office, witnessed and signed within the space of a week, and you don’t need to involve a lawyer. However, if your Spanish asset holding is substantial or complex, you may wish to have it drawn up and ratified by a lawyer to protect the interests of your surviving relatives. You should ensure your assets are allocated in a tax efficient way, otherwise your heirs could face a large inheritance tax bill before they can make their claim on your estate. The Notary office cannot advise on the provisions of your will – their function is to ensure that it is legal and fully compliant with good practice.
Having a Spanish will is a sensible decision if you have property or other assets, such as vehicles and bank accounts, in Spain. It makes for peace of mind for you, and it smooths the inheritance process for your loved ones at a difficult time, when they are coming to terms with their loss. It makes sense on every level, and the staff in your local Notary office can prepare all the relevant documentation for you to ensure that after your death, your assets in Spain will be divided according to your wishes, with minimum inconvenience to your heirs.