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A Guide to Spanish Inheritance and Probate Process Step by Step



What happens when someone dies having left assets in Spain?


If you are the executor dealing with an estate with assets in Spain or you are the beneficiary of an estate receiving assets located in Spain, you should be aware of the steps to be taken to transfer the assets in Spain to the beneficiary.


This guide offers a summary of the main steps to be taken when dealing with an estate in Spain in a simple and concise manner.


For further information or for a quote to assist you with dealing with a Spanish estate, please contact our team of Spanish lawyers in London and we will be happy to help.


1. Obtaining the death certificate.


The first step is to obtain the death certificate. If the deceased died in the UK, the death certificate shall be legalised with Apostille and translated into Spanish. Our notary in the City of London will be able to assist with the translation and legalisation of this document.


2. Ascertaining if there is a Spanish Will.


As part of the Spanish inheritance process, it will be necessary to obtain a Spanish Certificate of Last Will which shall confirm if the deceased left a Spanish Will registered at the Spanish Registry of Last Will. This document is compulsory to complete the administration of a Spanish estate.


At Lopez & Moreno Associates, our team of Spanish lawyers and notary in the City of London can assist you with preparing all the necessary documentation for such application and with obtaining a Spanish Certificate of Last Will.


3. Ascertaining the Will applicable to the estate in Spain.


Once it has been identified whether the deceased left a Spanish Will, it will also be necessary to ascertain if the deceased also left a Will in England or elsewhere and whether the Spanish Will is applicable to the Spanish estate or if it has been revoked by a subsequent English Will to identify who the beneficiaries of the Spanish estate are.


Whether either a Spanish Will or an English Will applies to the Spanish estate, in most cases, it will also be necessary to produce an English Grant of Representation (Probate (if there is a Will) or Letters of Administration (if there is no Will).


If the deceased died without leaving a Will anywhere (intestate) as part of the Spanish inheritance process, it will be required to obtain Letters of Administration and prepare a Certificate of Law/Declaration of Heirs explaining who the beneficiaries of the estate are under the applicable intestacy rules.


At Lopez & Moreno Associates, our team of Spanish lawyers and notary can assist with preparing the above Certificate of Law/Declaration of Heirs.


4. Obtaining Spanish NIE numbers.


Each executor and beneficiary are required to have a Spanish tax number before being able to deal with or inherit from a Spanish estate. Such Spanish tax number is known as NIE number.


Our team of Spanish lawyers in London will be able to help with obtaining the required NIE numbers as part of the administration of the Spanish estate.


5. Identifying the assets left by the deceased in Spain and establish the value of such assets.


The executor and/or beneficiary shall gather as much information as possible regarding the assets left by the deceased in Spain.


It will help to identify the following:


  • Title deeds for any Spanish properties.

  • Details of any Spanish bank accounts and the balance in the accounts on the date of death.

  • Details of any shares/ other investments in Spain.

  • Any Spanish registered vehicle documentation for cars owned by the deceased.

  • Details of any Spanish loans, mortgages or other debts of the deceased in Spain.


6. Preparing and signing the Deed of Acceptance of the Spanish estate.


The inheritance process in Spain involves the signature before a notary of a Deed of Acceptance of the Spanish estate to transfer the deceased’s assets in Spain to the beneficiary(ies).


In order to be able to sign such Deed of Acceptance of the Spanish estate it is necessary to have completed all the above-mentioned steps.


At Lopez & Moreno Associates our notary in the City of London can assist with the preparation, notarisation and legalisation with Apostille of such Deed of Acceptance of the Spanish estate.


7. Filling Tax Self-Assessments and paying any tax due.


Spanish Inheritance Tax.


Spanish inheritance tax is paid by the beneficiaries individually, not by the estate as is the case in England. The Spanish inheritance tax will be calculated depending on the value of the assets in Spain that each beneficiary receives, and they have a period of 6 months from the date of death to file the Spanish Inheritance Tax Self-Assessment and pay the tax due. If the tax is not paid within such period, surcharges and interest apply. The Inheritance Tax is regulated by the Autonomous Community/Regional Authority where the assets with the higher accrued value are located and any reductions and bonuses applicable to the residents of that particular Autonomous Community/Regional Authority shall also be applicable to beneficiaries who are resident in the UK.


Each Autonomous Community/Regional Authority have their own regulation when it comes to calculating the amount of Spanish Inheritance tax due and the difference could result in a substantial amount.


Plusvalia Tax.


In addition to Inheritance Tax, the beneficiaries shall also pay a local Tax called “Plusvalia Tax” based on the increase of value of the land from the day the deceased acquired the property up to the date of their death. This tax is filed before the Local Authority/Town Hall of the city where the property is located.


Please contact our team of experience Spanish lawyers in London for further information and advice on the amount of Spanish inheritance tax due.



8. Registering at the relevant Spanish Land Registry the transfer of the property to the beneficiary or beneficiaries.


When the deceased left property in Spain, after the Deed of Acceptance of the Spanish estate is signed before the notary and both Spanish Inheritance Tax and Spanish plusvalia tax Self-Assessments are filed, it is necessary to make an application for registration of the Deed of Acceptance of the Spanish estate at the relevant Land Registry for the property to be registered under the names of the beneficiary or beneficiaries of the Spanish estate.


9. Releasing funds from Spanish bank accounts.


The deceased’s Spanish bank accounts can only be dealt with once the Deed of Acceptance of the Spanish estate has been signed before the notary and Spanish Inheritance Tax has been paid.


Once all the documentation is in place, all the documents must be submitted to the bank’s central legal department for approval before the funds can be released.


Dealing with Spanish banks in Spanish probate cases can often be very difficult so it is advisable to have a Spanish lawyer to liaise with the bank on behalf of the executor/ beneficiaries.


At Lopez & Moreno Associates, our team of experienced Spanish lawyers and notary can guide and advise you on every step of the process.


Please get in touch with us for information about our services and fees.




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