Last Wills: The Spanish testament

Inheritance law is well known for its complexity. It is in fact one of the most problematic areas of international civil law. The succession to the estate of a deceased person is a situation that the diverse national legal systems treat in very different ways. This can result in serious conflicts among successors if the deceased owns assets and rights in various countries and has not clearly expressed his/her last will by means of a testament.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that persons who are not residents in Spain but have assets in Spain execute a will before a Spanish notary public.

Any will or testament that the person in question may execute in their home country according to the corresponding national law will be equally valid. However, this second option entails that the settling of the estate will be a slower and more costly procedure, mainly because of the following:

  • Legal reasons. Different countries have different legal systems. The slightest discrepancy in the interpretation of the text (even for merely conceptual reasons) may hinder the settling of the estate in favour of the beneficiaries.
  • Cost of having the testament translated and legalised. Testaments executed in other countries must be translated into Spanish by a sworn (certified) translator and legalised by a competent authority with the Hague Convention apostille. Executing a will in Spain is a very economic procedure, more economic in fact than the translation of a foreign document, so it is highly recommended to execute a will as soon as one has assets in Spain. This will greatly reduce the amount of paperwork and the costs that relatives and successors will have to bear in the future, at a highly emotional moment in their lives.

In case that you have not even executed a will in your home country, we believe it is essential to do so in Spain. The provisions in a Spanish will and testament shall only apply to assets and rights located in Spain.

At Vicente & Otaolaurruchi Abogados we assess the family and personal situation of each client and the impact that inheritance tax will have on the successors in order to recommend the most favourable option for you and your relatives, and to reduce the cost of the future inheritance.

Our lawyers will draft your will and accompany you to the notary’s office. Once it has been signed, the document will be sent to the General Registry of Last Wills in Madrid, where it will be registered.

Do you still have queries on this subject? Have a look in the FAQs about wills in Spain.