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El blog de Maria

Your daily Spanish Law reporter. Have it with a cafe con leche.

Legal tip 446. UK-Spain Probate cases I
03 February 2011 @ 08:58

A widow UK national dies in Spain, where he had his residency, leaving a UK will were he named as  heir a good  friend of him. He has three children. His only asset was a property in Spain. He left no will in Spain.

Is this person under Spanish Inheritance Law? Can the children claim for a portion of the inheritance? 


The rule for application of Inheritance Law in Spain is the rule of nationality ( provision 9.8 of the Spanish Civil Code) So initially, it might seem that inheritance Law applicable here is UK Inheritance Law which does not impose limits to the free will when testating.

The problem is that Law of England and Wales sends back the regulation of this inheritance to Spanish Law because his only asset was a estate in Spain:

UK inheritance Law applies:

1.-In relation to moveable assets the law of the country of domicile of the deceased should be applied.

2.-In relation to immoveable property (Land or buildings) it states that the law of the country where the property is located should apply.

Even when this person had his residency in Spain, it is possible that he had his domicile in the UK ( as his domicile of origin), but this is irrelevant to the case as he left no asset but the Spanish property.

So once the death is certified in Spain we can obtain information on the existence of a will by consulting the National Registry of Last Wills. We will obtain there a negative certificate so we will have to see if he left a will in the UK.

Once we see the will in the UK,  this can be challenged by the children in respect to the spanish property as under Spanish Law, two thirds of the estate are obligatorily for the legal heirs that in this case are these three children.

What would happen if he also had Bank accounts in Spain and in the UK? We will see this other case tomorrow
Cal y geranios by Basilievich at



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