When a spouse or family members dies having left no will in Spain or outside Spain the procedure can be very costly and time consuming. In the UK you can generally notify the Land Registry, the banks etc to transfer property into your sole name and in some cases where the estate is not of a high value no other formalities are required. If they are an application can be made for Letters of administration on intestacy.
This is very different in Spain as the property passes independently to your appointed heirs and there is a procedure required to prove who should receive. Spanish law applies the law of your nationality to your estate. Therefore if you die leaving Spanish assets and have not made a valid will in either country your heirs need to prove firstly the law that should be applied on intestacy and secondly that they are entitled to inherit. This applies to your spouse even though you may be joint owners of the assets.
For some time we have been advising British nationals in Spain that it is wise to state the law you wish to be applied to your estate. Wills made since the European regulation 650/2012 state what law you wish to be applied. This is particularly important if you want your estate to be left to your surviving spouse. Remember that prevention is not only better than cure in this situation it is also less costly than cure.
For more information contact [email protected] or telephone 952 527014 or 951 315 161