Spanish wills and inheritence tax

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01 Oct 2016 9:50 AM by Jarvi Star rating in Halifax UK and Sucin.... 757 posts Send private message

My partner has just been diagnosed with Cancer. We have no Spanish will and our property is in joint names. Please can someone knowledgable advise me on the following should the worst possible outcome happen?

What is the situation if we don't have a Spanish will?

How does the inheritance tax system work? (Our place is in the Murcia region)

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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01 Oct 2016 10:35 AM by steone Star rating in Santiago de la Riber.... 383 posts Send private message

I am sorry to hear of your sad news.

Rather than rely on the bar room lawyers on here just go a.s.a.p. to a lawyer where you are, so that they can advise you on the law and also draw up a Spanish will. They will also take you to the Notary so that it can be signed and then you will be able to get the best outcome when the worst happens.

Before going to the lawyer write down every question you need an answer for, doesn't matter how apparently stupid you think it is, and get the answer. Also write down who you both wish to inherit from the deceased Estate. If you go fully equiped then it will be easier to write the will.

The only answer I can give is that in Spain all taxes have to be paid by the recipient BEFORE they inherit and this tax needs to be paid within 6 months of the demise of the testator. You can ask for a one off further 6 months but that is it.

If your partner has any assets abroad, say U.K., make certain that as a 'foreigner' you make certain that in your will you include the wording that this will only applies to your Spanish assets. If you do not put this sentence in then all your worldwide assets will be included in your Spanish estate whereas if you have assets in, say, the U.K. those assets will be treated under U.K. rules.

Hope everything goes well and I wish you the best.


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01 Oct 2016 11:10 AM by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5240 posts Send private message

Very sorry to hear your news. I had cancer in 1997 but I was lucky in that it was operable.  I hope your partner is lucky too.

The advice by Steone is good. 

If you partner is able to travel to Spain it is very straightforward to make a Will in Spain.  If there are no complications in the allocation of assets there is no reason to employ a lawyer. Whether you do or not the Will can only be signed in front of a notary who is the one who draws it up.  Thus they have more experience in doing so that any lawyer.   I and family members have made a number of Wills in Spain and never needed a lawyer.  (I am a former UK Met Police Company Fraud Dept detective not a bar room lawyer).

 When you say ‘partner’ the law varies on inheritance according to the exact relationship.  A couple living together, with no paperwork to make that relationship recognised in law,   I believe you are not regarded as anything but friends and the tax free allowance was, and I believe still is, close to only 17,000€,  whereas for married or legally recognised partners it is much more generous.  With the average holiday proper that would probably mean no tax to pay.  I own 100 % our apartment which at is least averagely priced and my wife will not have to pay any inheritance tax . But as Steone says,  take advice. 

Not having a Will in UK or in Spain will always lead to expensive complications and involve courts and lawyers.

Also be aware,  when one makes a Will in UK it starts with ‘This is the last Will and testament’.   If you then make another Will in Spain,  you may need to add a codicil to the UK Will to say it is has not been superseded by the later (the last)  Spanish Will

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01 Oct 2016 1:06 PM by steone Star rating in Santiago de la Riber.... 383 posts Send private message

The information given by Johnzx is good. What you have not stated is where you are at the moment. I thought that you are in Spain whereas John has indicated that you are in the U.K. If you are in the U.K. and not able to get to Spain  then you need to make certain that any will in the U.K. specifically includes your Spanish assets if you can not make a Spanish will. John has given some advice about the wording of a U.K. will  starting with Last Will and Testament etc. which if making a Spanish will does not need a codicil on your U.K. will if it states that it only concerns your Spanish assets.

If you can not get to Spain then maybe try and see the Spanish Embassy in the U.K.

One of the important differences between a Spanish will and an English will is that in Spain, as Johnzx has said, it has to be written by a Notary, stamped, and then lodged in Madrid whereas anyone can write a will in England and all that has to happen is that it is witnessed and signed. In Spain there is no such thing as a codicil as if you want to make any alterations then you need a new will again in front of a Notary.

Good luck


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01 Oct 2016 1:08 PM by Jarvi Star rating in Halifax UK and Sucin.... 757 posts Send private message

Thank you for the kind wishes. I should have stated we are in the UK and our property in Spain is our holiday home.

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01 Oct 2016 1:53 PM by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5240 posts Send private message

As writing one’s own Will, known as a Holograph Will in UK has been mentioned, forgive me going off thread..   

In UK HMSO sell printed Will format documents , however they can be written in any form. The problem through arises if one has not included what needs to be included, which might render it invalid. I first used an HMSO form about 45 years ago.  Since having a computer I have had a blank Will pro forma on my PC. 

When I first wrote my first Holographic Will, a solicitor friend checked it out and said it was fine.   I have supplied that blank form to several friends over the years and have rewritten mine several times as my circumstances have change.  I understand it is possible to write a Holographic Will in Spain, but for the sake of about 50 euro using a notary is probably more straightforward, especially for a person who may not be fluent in Spanish.


As Steone says, when one makes a Will before a notarary, they retain the original, copia simples are supplied to the person making the Will and the fact is recorded centrally in Madrid. Thus it is simple to discover where a person's last Will was made wherever that was in Spain.

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01 Oct 2016 2:00 PM by Jarvi Star rating in Halifax UK and Sucin.... 757 posts Send private message

Can you choose who you pay the inheritance tax on the Spanish property to? i.e. UK or Spain or do you have to pay the tax in Spain?

With regard to Notary, we may not be able to travel to Spain, as it's early days we do not have the full picture of the future.

(I am praying that none of this will be necessary in the short term anyway, but I suppose I should prepare for the worst case scenario just in case)

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01 Oct 2016 2:15 PM by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5240 posts Send private message

I have just googled  ......... Spanish notaries in UK   ............   and found several.

Jarvi,  Maybe you can do that and see if you can get advice locally to where you live or maybe on the phone in UK

Spanish inheritance tax must be paid to Agencia Tributaria (Hacienda)

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01 Oct 2016 2:18 PM by Jarvi Star rating in Halifax UK and Sucin.... 757 posts Send private message

ok Thank You John and Ste.

Once again thank you both for your kind wishes

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