Question: Good afternoon, I am British, and have lived in Spain for some years. I hear that the Spanish inheritance law is different from that in the UK. I would like know the consequences of dying without a Will under Spanish Law. It is true that the Spanish government would keep all assets?
Thank you for your question.
In the event of there being no Spanish Will, in principle, the law applying to the inheritance would be the national law of the deceased, according to article 9 of the Spanish civil code.
This matter is controversial though, as according to the most recent case-law, if you have your domicile and all your real estate properties in Spain, it could be acceptable the renvoi from English Law to Spanish, and then the Spanish Law would apply.
If Spanish Law applies, and a person dies without a will (intestate), the law foresees a list of beneficiaries, starting from the closest relatives. This is regulated in articles 930 and follows the Spanish civil code, which we summarize below:
If the deceased leaves descendants (children, grandchildren,…), and is also married, the spouse will inherit the usufructo (use, live interest) of a third of the estate, and the descendants would inherit the remainder in equal shares.
If the deceased leaves only ascendants (parents or grandparents) and spouse ( no descendants), the spouse will inherit the usufructo of the 50% of the estate, and the parents will inherit the rest. In the absence of parents, the beneficiaries will be the immediate ascendants, grandparents,etc.
In cases where the deceased dies without ascendants or descendants, the spouse inherits, and if there is no spouse, collaterals will inherit: brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, etc. Only if there are no collaterals (up to the fourth degree in the collateral line), would the State inherit the estate.
In each case, it needs to be determined if the succession should apply English or Spanish Law. It is always advisable to grant a Spanish Will, to speed the procedures, and in order to avoid additional extra costs for the required documentation that will be need from the country of origin, such as the PROBATE, apostilled, etc.
Our firm can help you in any inheritance, will, probate or succession matter that you may have in Spain.
The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.
Carlos Baos (Lawyer)
White & Baos
Tel:+34 966 426 185
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