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Inheritance in Spain without a Will

Inheritance in Spain without a Will (Intestacy)

When a person dies owning property or assets in Spain and there is no Will or official declaration of how an estate is to be distributed, the deceased is deemed to have died ‘intestate’. The process of dealing with a Spanish estate where there is no Will is complex.
In administering an estate, it will be necessary to establish initially whether Spanish or other succession law applies to the deceased´s estate before determining who is entitled to inherit.
Once the applicable law is determined, a declaration of heirs is prepared which identifies those who are entitled to benefit from the estate.
When a British citizen dies intestate and is domiciled in the UK the basic rule is that the intestacy rules of the place in which the deceased was domiciled applies. This law will establish who is entitled to the estate under the rules of intestacy. However, in some cases where the deceased has lived in Spain the concept of domicile may not be straightforward and it is possible to lose or to adopt a domicile of choice.

If Spanish Succession law applies then basically the estate is distributed according to the intestacy and forced heirship rules. In most of the cases, the surviving spouse inherits the life interest and the children the beneficial ownership of the estate. If there is no surviving spouse or children then estate will pass to parents of the deceased and if parents are no longer alive then the estate passes to the next closest blood relative of the deceased.
When preparing the declaration of heirs/beneficiaries, evidence must be provided as to why those heirs/beneficiaries are entitled to a share of the estate and full details of their relationships with the deceased must be given along with accompanying documentation. At this stage details of all of the assets of the estate are recorded in the acceptance of inheritance deed before the Spanish notary public and an IHT calculation is prepared to establish the potential tax due on the estate.
Any property or asset that has been inherited cannot be sold or taken until the inheritance is completed and registered.


  • Do you need both a UK and Spanish Will if you own property in Spain?

    It is recommended that you have a Spanish Will to deal with your assets in Spain to ensure that matters can be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. An estate can be dealt with under a UK Will, however the process is much more complex and can take much longer to administer. Spanish Probate Solicitors can help in drafting a suitable Spanish Will and assist you with its execution either in the UK or Spain.

  • Do I need to travel to Spain to deal with Probate?

    No. Probate can be dealt with by way of a suitable Power of Attorney on behalf of the beneficiaries or heirs. Spanish Probate Solicitors can arrange a Power of Attorney, which is executed in the UK, in order that your appointed representative can deal with all associated matters in Spain.

  • What does Power of Attorney mean?

    A Power of Attorney is a document that grants an appointed representative the authority to deal with matters on behalf of the person appointing them. In the case of dealing with Spanish Probate, the Power of Attorney enables the representative to communicate, correspond and undertake all the necessary actions in Spain in order that an estate can be distributed as quickly as possible to beneficiaries or heirs. Spanish Probate Solicitors can assist you in drafting a suitable power of attorney for Probate purposes.

  • What happens if there is no Will?

    If there is no Will, the deceased is deemed to have died ‘intestate’. The process of dealing with an intestate estate is complex and the right of any beneficiary or heir must first be proved. Spanish Probate Solicitors can assist you with all of the legal formalities in this regard.

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