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 can provide the following suite of legal support services aimed at providing Peace of Mind for people owning or purchasing property in Spain.
APS Legal & Associates can prepare and properly register Spanish Wills (according to the province in which the property is situated) with English translation, by its fully qualified team of lawyers in Spain. Furthermore, clients' instructions will be taken in English here in the UK at a time and place of their choosing and if it suits we can even organize to have the Will Notarized in the UK.
A UK resident can organize his own Spanish Will entirely separately to his English Will but to do so could cause complications. The Spanish Will could revoke the English Will and vice versa. In the worst case both Wills may be seen as void. It is important that all UK residents with property in Spain should have a Will in both countries and the UK Will should refer to the one lodged in Spain. The APS complementary English and Spanish Will Package ensures this.
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.
Finally, if anyone is in the unfortunate position of having to handle probate for a property in Spain, help is at hand. Our Spanish based legal team is fully conversant with the Laws of inheritance according to each province and in conjunction with one of our UK based Estate Planning Legal Specialist's can handle the most complex situations. If you happen to be UK resident then by providing us with a simple Power of Attorney we can deal with these matters on your behalf saving you the time and expense of frequent trips to Spain. We provide up front fixed costs for our service so there are no nasty surprises and of course having an expert on the doorstep who speaks your language means we can keep you constantly updated.