Important notes regarding the legal Spanish requirements of drawing up a will, the impact on any wills in Britain and more importantly the best way to speed up the process.
There are many questions regarding how to proceed when planning how to distribute your estate after your death, even more when having part of your estate in a foreign country. Of course, it is more than advisable to draw up a will, but there are many other points that may have to be considered and covered.
UK nationals’ owners of property in Spain come across the problem of not being sure if a British will may be sufficient in order to arrange the whole inheritance (including their Spanish estate) or if they should prepare a Spanish will as well. Both options are valid, you will be able to arrange the distribution of your assets no matter which option is selected. Although it is important to realize that there are differences between both choices.
In case of only drawing up a British will its recognition by Spanish authorities will be necessary, which happens to be quite a slow and expensive process. This means that all documents shall be sworn-translated into Spanish and it would also be mandatory to have them notarized and apostilled by a UK notary. Apart from the will you would also be required to present a Grant of Probate and an Affidavit of Law. Finally, you will need to apply for a NIE number, needed to take part in any proceeding in Spain.
On the other hand, if drawing up a Spanish will, you will may be able to speed up the process as you would not be in need of presenting such amount of documentation and you will not need to have to pay for translations, which will also turn out to be cheaper than proceeding to the distribution of the inheritance assets by a sole British will.
If you are thinking of drawing up a Spanish will you will probably be concerned of how it may affect to your British will. It will only affect to the assets located in Spain, so the previous British will not be cancelled nor suffer any alteration.
Another matter of concern is the applicable law. In Spanish inheritance law the distribution of assets it is limited: there is the obligation to assign two thirds of the estate to your children, your spouse or your parents. This only leaves one third of the estate to be disposed freely.
You will probably not be interested on applying Spanish law in your Spanish will even less if the inheritance law in your country allows to arrange a free distribution of the assets of the inheritance (just like in the UK). Therefore it is important to know that you can apply your home country law to your Spanish will so you are not tied up by the limitations of the Spanish inheritance law and you can benefit from the more favourable conditions of your home country law.
In Scudamore Law we can assist you and ensure that you receive the best legal advice on Spanish inheritance law.