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Please Check your Spanish and English Wills

Feb 13, 2015

For all those people who have properties in Spain, please take note of the following:-

As from July 2015 Spanish Law will change, so that English nationals resident in Spain will have to comply with the Spanish Laws of Forced Hereditary Interest. This means that if you are deemed to be resident in Spain, and you die in Spain, your Will must comply with the Spanish provisions which states that the assets have to go to:

  • One-third to the children in equal shares
  • One-third to the children in unequal shares
  • One-third to whoever you would wish to leave it

If the intention was to leave any interest to the surviving spouse, this will not be honoured.

When does this apply?

From July 2015 to English nationals who are resident in Spain.

What is Residency?

This is a difficult concept. However, if you are living there most of the time, if your business is there, if you have been living permanently there, then you could be deemed to be resident. This is even if you have some residual interests in England.

What can I do?

There is an option for English nationals to specify in their Will that despite the law of Forced Hereditary or Obligatory Heirs, they wish the law of their Country to apply. Therefore, they have to particularly stipulate in the Spanish Will, that they wish UK Inheritance Law to regulate their assets in Spain.

Therefore, anybody who is a Spanish property owner, who thinks they may fall into this category, must check their Will. The Will needs to be updated to have the applicable law clause in it. Any new Will has to include it. It must also not conflict with any existing UK Will so it will be advisable to check your English Will at the same time.

If you do nothing and you do not update your Will, then the Will as it is conflicts with the Forced Hereditary Heir Law in Spain, and will not comply. If you leave no Will at all, then the rules of intestacy in Spain will comply which provides for the assets to be left two-thirds to the children.

If you think this applies to you, contact us, and let us have a copy of your Will. 

Remember, this only applies to English nationals resident in Spain. For those resident in the UK, it is still advisable to have a Spanish Will with this clause just in case circumstances change in the future.


Lynn Cowley

About the author

Lynn Cowley

Lynn Cowley joined Nockolds in 1990 and was made Partner is 1997; Lynn also heads the Family Team and International Team. Before joining the firm Lynn ...

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