Non-residents purchasing properties in Spain are often urged to set up a Spanish Will in the belief this will shield them from Spanish IHT.
This is unfortunately untrue and a Spanish Will can often complicate matters as it may conflict with an earlier Will prepared in the UK. A Spanish Will cannot be varied after death and therefore limits the options of the beneficiaries. If there is only a UK Will then with agreement of the beneficiaries the Will can be varied to accommodate the inheritor’s wishes. The only requirement of the Spanish authorities is to be presented with a death certificate and Grant of Probabte from the UK, translated, notorised and apostiled.
A Spanish Will is registered in a central location in Madrid and once it has been registered you cannot proceed to change it without going through the process of cancelling the old one through the Notary that dealt with your original Will. This can be time consuming and very costly.
In the UK if you wish to change your Will you simply write a new one stating that the old one is revoked.
In order to obtain a Spanish Probate you will require an Abogado (Spanish lawyer) and beneficiaries will be liable to pay any inheritance tax personally. Unlike the UK the inheritance tax is paid by the individual beneficiary based upon their circumstances not by the Estate. Inheritance tax laws in Spain provide that immovable assets such as property cannot be realised in order to pay the inheritance taxes due.
If you are married or you have a joint account in Spain then it means that your Spouse or joint account holder will be unable to access funds in that account until probate has been completed in Spain. This often leaves them in the position of being unable to make funeral arrangements or return to the UK as they do not have access to their funds.
To deal with the sale of the property or to arrange for the transfer into their own names each beneficiary will need to attend Spain personally to obtain an NIE number and deal with Notaries and Spanish authorities often in a country that they are not familiar with.
Call Adrian Berkeley for more information on 0161 371 001