When someone close to you dies you have many emotions to deal with. No matter how expected the death was, the finality can come as something of a shock. It's the time when you need those that you love and trust most around you. What you don't need are the worries of the practical arrangements of sorting out Spanish inheritance.
Unfortunately, not everyone dies prepared. Even when a death is expected inheritance is such a difficult subject to broach that many important decisions can be left in the balance. This is perhaps even more the case where an inherited property is in a foreign country. However, even with this complication there is no need for obstacles as long as you have the right people to help you.
In this article we lead you through the steps you should take to sort out your Spanish inheritance on the death of a close family member. Sometimes taking one step at a time is the best approach.
Make sure you are in as good a place as you can be to begin with. Attend to your own emotional needs first, talk to the people around you and don't make any hasty decision at this stage. If there are children, siblings or close relatives involved, you need to agree on a course of action. This might mean that one of you takes the lead.
You need someone to act on your behalf who understands Spanish inheritance tax law and preferably the legal system in your own country too. Talk to people, if you can, who have used an inheritance service they can recommend. The solicitors or advisors should be prepared to discuss with you the main issues and costs to be incurred before you are required to sign up for their services.
Make sure they speak good English if your command of Spanish is weak. You need to be clear what they are doing for you and what any alternatives are. Language can be a barrier and you need everything to work in your favour at this point.
Whoever you engage to help you should be able to work out what the cost of any Spanish inheritance tax will be and the expenses involved in transferring the assets into the inheritor's names. Spanish inheritance tax is administered very differently in Spain to many other European countries. How much you will need to pay varies significantly depending upon what relationship you have to the deceased, where the property and assets are located, whether you are resident or non-resident and what you intend to do with the property. For example, you might not need to pay inheritance tax at all if your parent was a resident of Spain and you are going to keep the house, even if you are a non-resident yourself.
The bank account being frozen is often one of the major worries that newly bereaved people have. In Spain, the bank account or half the bank account, where it's in joint names, will be frozen. Limited use of the account will still be available so leave it to your solicitor to talk to the bank to make the appropriate arrangements to ensure that all bills continue to be paid.
You should put the inheritance procedure into action. This can be a difficult next step to take. However, leaving it after six months will mean that there is a fine as well as the tax to pay.
What perhaps surprises people is that each of these steps can be taken in your own country. There is in fact no need to travel to Spain as a power of attorney to your appointed solicitor in Spain can be requested in the UK and NIE numbers can be applied for at the Spanish Embassy in London or Dublin. Telephone and email contact can provide the answers to most of the questions you might have.
What's perhaps most important to remember is that you are not on your own. Plenty of people have found themselves in this situation before and will do again. A reputable firm who are used to handling inheritance claims will be sensitive to the issues you are facing and the emotional impact of it all. Inheritance law in Spain is complicated but there are solicitors who specialise in this service and their expertise in the field will prove invaluable at this time.
Written by: Abaco Asesores
About the author:
Suzanne O'Connell is information co-ordinator at Abaco Asesores, a firm of tax and legal advisers who specialise in Property Conveyancing, Property Taxes, Personal Income Taxes, Residence Permits, Spanish Wills, Probate and Inheritance matters.
They have offices in Torrevieja, in the city of Alicante and in Vera (Almería).
Tel: (+34) 96 670 3750
Fax: (+34) 96 670 3656
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