Experts in law
Spanish will / Estate Planning:
Do I need a Spanish will ? Yes.
Signing a Spanish will is not obligatory but it should be.
It is very important that you have one signed. It will save your beneficiaries time and money in all cases but more importantly it will avoid extremely complex and expensive situations that can arise on some occasions when there is no Spanish will.
I have over 25 years experience handling estates for ex-pats in Spain and I have no doubts whatsoever. You should sign a Spanish will.
In Spain if you do not make a will it is possible your children will inherit instead of your spouse.This is because if you have children and you do not make a will stating you wish English will to rule your inheritance under the new European Directive applicable from the 17th of August of 2015 it would the the law of you country of residence that would determine how you can distribute your assetts. The Spanish system unlike the English one (with total liberty for the testator ) establishes a system of obligatory heirs which determine that 2/3 of your estate would have to go to your children.
- You can mitigate inheritance tax by planning the distribution of your estate. A will can be the single most cost-effective document you will sign during your lifetime.
- You will have the peace of mind of knowing that things are in order for your heirs and that your heirs will not end up dealing with a complicated and costly procedure in a foreign country.
We like the challenge of complicated inheritance work but we will never stop insisting that all our clients should make a Spanish will.
Since setting up office in 1993, I have been surprised by the amount of people who have come to me to ask whether it is convenient to make a will in Spain concerning their Spanish assets.
In England if you do not make a will, then the law has rules, which will determine the distribution of your assets. These rules could mean that your assets are distributed in a way very different from what you would have liked.
In Spain the situation is the same, with additional factors. Your heirs will have to deal with a foreign language and legal system. Even more important if you are resident in Spain the assets unless you have said differently on your will would be distributed conforming to Spanish law (explained in article below).
Some people include their Spanish assets in their English will. This is legally binding, but to obtain probate in Spain, it will be necessary for the will to be translated and legalized. This is a long and costly procedure.
My advice on the subject is to have two separate wills, one in England for your English assets and one in Spain for your Spanish assets. Drawing up a will in Spain does not take long and is not expensive, and will definitely save your heirs a lot of time, problems and money. Your Lawyer will draw up a rough draft, and then he will make an appointment at the notary to sign the final document. One copy is sent by the notary to the central register in Madrid.
He will hold on to the original copy. You will be given a copy that I suggest you inform your heirs and lawyer in England about, and then put it in the bottom draw, with the peace of mind of knowing that everything is taken care of.
At Davies Solicitors we will listen to your wishes and advise you on the most tax efficient way of dealing with your Spanish estate. We will explain in detail the tax implications of your estate for your heirs and ways to deal with it. We will prepare a will in both English and Spanish for signature and in general we will provide you the peace of mind of knowing that everything has been left organised for your heirs. Please call or email us for an appointment
There is no doubt. If you have assets in Spain it is very important to have a Spanish will.
If you wish to make a Spanish will you have come to the right firm. We have over 25 years experience preparing wills and handling probate cases for ex-pats in Spain.
If you have already made a will it is highly likely you need to revise it due to directive 650/2012 that came into force on the 17th of August of 2015.
Making a Spanish will is easy , quick and not expensive.
We can help prepare your will. From a simple mirror will with normal standard clauses which is appropriate for most couples to much more complex documents involving complex tax planning etc. Even simple mirror wills have to be written correctly and not doing so can cause unnecessary expense and problems for your heirs. This can happen when the person that prepares your will is not qualified to do so. We have come across this often when going to probate. Unfortunately at that point the self proclaimed advisors simply say that they where only hired as translators avoiding all responsibility.
In all cases we will discuss your wishes with you and make sure that you sign a will in which your Spanish estate is left to your loved ones in the most tax efficient way.
We will make sure it combines correctly with your English will.
The meeting to discuss your wishes will always be with Michael Davies who is an expert in everything surrounding wills and inheritance for foreigners living in Spain.
Your WILL is handed to you in two columns English /Spanish , witnessed by a local Spanish notary and registered at the central register of wills in Madrid.
If you already have a Spanish will, but feel that you wish to change it, or simply feel that you would like a second opinion to make sure there is no better way of organising your last wishes, we will be happy to discuss the will with you , and if you decide to change it we offer a discount on clients that have already spent money on a previous will.
We like the challenge of complicated inheritance work when it arrives on our doorstep, but we will never stop insisting that all our clients should make a Spanish will.
Premium Spanish wills: There are situations in which a standard wills are not sufficient. Situations in which the situation deserves extra thought and reflexion with the clients to make sure we are preparing the best will possible to deal with the circumstances of the estate. Extra fees would be applicable in large estates that deserve extra thinking time be dedicated to the different options that would allow a reduction in the total levels of inheritance tax and to cases in which extra thought needs to be dedicated to coordinating the sometimes conflicting interests of children from other marriages versus present spouses etc etc. We are experts at finding the best possible solutions to these cases, and like to be able to dedicate the time necessary to find the correct one. We will provide a budget in writing before you assume any obligation towards us preparing your will.
Please find below an article where we explain why you may need to update your existing Spanish will. If you prefer you can watch the explanation on the video below the article.
ARTICLE: REGULATION (EU) 650/2012. WE RECOMMEND YOU ASK YOUR SOLICITOR ABOUT HOW IT MAY AFFECT YOUR INHERITANCE AS IT IS HIGHLY LIKELY YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR WILL. CHANGES MUST BE IN PLACE BEFORE 17TH OF AUGUST OF 2015. THE SOONER THE BETTER.
Follows below a question received from a reader of the Soltimes:
Q. A solicitor spoke the other day on television about the new directive 650/2012 that is was essential that people retired in a country different of their country of nationality within the European Union revise their wills. What is all this about?
A. This regulation of the EU 650/2012 deals with different things, but the reason English citizens need to look at their will is that this new Regulation of the EU establishes that:
- When a person dies resident in one country of the European Union but national of another, the law applicable to his/her inheritance will be the one that he/she has established expressly in his will and not the one established by the International Norms of each country (which may be in conflict). This is good news because an English national living in Spain can establish that he/she wishes English Law to rule his/her inheritance and this will avoid any possible risk of claims from children against the spouse on the basis of the system of obligatory heirs established in Spanish law, which has always caused worry and concern in the case of children from previous marriages etc.
- If a person passes away after the 17th of August of 2015, unless he has said differently in his will (as explained above), the legislation applicable to his inheritance will be that of his country of last residence. This is very important for English people living in Spain, because under Spanish law you cannot leave everything to your wife as 2/3 of the estate have to be left to children. In other words if you are resident of Spain, have children and do not establish on your will that you wish English Law (your national law ) to rule your inheritance your Spouse will not be allowed to receive his/her full inheritance as it would contradict the Spanish rules of obligatory heirs which would be applicable automatically because of the new regulation.
- If you have children but have made a will leaving all assets to your spouse, make sure that you have clearly stated on your will that you wish your national law (English law) to rule your inheritance. If you have not, you need to speak to a solicitor about this new European directive and add this statement to your will.
- If you are married and you have been concerned with possible claims by your spouses children against your estate this risk can be completely removed by your spouse stating on her/his will that it should be English law that rules the inheritance.
The new regulation has given much more strength to the testators /testatrix, letting them choose between English or Spanish Law, which is good, but precaution is a must because under the new regulation if nothing is said and you are a resident in Spain automatically the law applicable will be Spanish law which does not permit that spouses leave everything to each other if there are children.
To avoid nasty surprises visit your solicitor and ask if you need to change the wording of your will due to the new Regulation of the EU. 650/2012.