It is not widely known that UK residents who own property in Spain must have a separate Spanish Will in order to protect their estate and ensure the inheritance of their loved ones. Not to do so would leave their family and heirs with expensive and complex administrative problems.
Spanish law has a strict regime of enforced inheritance rules, which require that two-thirds of the estate must go to the children. However, as foreigners, UK residents are exempt from this law and can leave their estate to whomever they choose.
However if you do not have a Spanish Will drawn up to specifically to cover your property and other assets in Spain then even transferring your share of those assets to your surviving spouse will be a long winded and extremely expensive affair involving translating and legalizing the required documents, including your English Will, before proving them before a Notary Public in Spain.
In the case of intestacy it is even worse. English rules would apply, but English law states that for assets abroad determination of legal heirs is according to the laws of that country. For beneficiaries to receive their rightful inheritance involves an expensive process of proving rightful heir-ship, obtaining, translating and legalizing documents before again having to prove these before a Spanish Notary Public.
Having completed the requirements to prove rightful inheritance there is then the problem of inheritance tax and transfer of title of any property or other assets. Unlike in the UK there is no automatic transfer to the surviving spouse. Inheritance tax is due from the beneficiaries not the estate and has to be paid within a fixed timescale. Not to do so can lead to fines that increase over time. The amount of inheritance tax due both in Spain and in UK can be significantly impacted by the way any Will is drafted so it pays to take professional advise early enough.
APS Legal & Associates provide a full suite of legal support services aimed at providing Peace of Mind for people owning or purchasing property in Spain.
Inheritance Tax planning is absolutely essential as the British Chancellor will tax an estate based on its world-wide assets and the Spanish Government will get its share also, according to some complex rules of kinship. It is important to get advice from experts who understand Inheritance Tax law in both countries when estate planning and before preparing any Wills. APS have legal teams situated in the UK and Spain who work together to make sure all possibilities are covered.