Finding Lost Relatives and Heirs to Spanish Property, By De Cotta Law

Filed under : Civil Law, Property, Tax Planning - Inheritance, Wills, Probate & Inheritance

As a law firm serving the international community in
Spain, we are often approached by ‘heir-hunters’ or companies who specialise in
tracing lost relatives. Over the last 30 or more years of immigration,
residence and property purchase by British nationals many properties have been
purchased. In some cases these people have lost contact with their families and
it is not until their estate in England
is dealt with that a Spanish property comes to light.

Spanish Houses

Another way in which ‘ownerless’ properties appear is
when a court in Spain auctions the property to recover debts. Other examples
would be where there is a debt with the Community of owners or the Town Hall
and after the property is auctioned there is a balance held by the court which
can be paid to any heirs or relatives of the deceased. If the owner of the
property died intestate there are rules as to which members of the family would

You may have seen the professional heir-hunter
programmes on television and perhaps an aunt or uncle or other family members
die owning assets in Spain. Searches to trace family are not unduly expensive,
though in Spain a date and place of death is required to obtain a death
certificate and begin the process of locating heirs and property. However the
Spanish property registry can be searched by name only and this can be the
first step in obtaining more information about the estate.

Today with the prevalence of internet genealogy and
family searches you can often make a start and then instruct professional
companies to complete the search. In Spain there is less information
available on the internet but agents can often trace individuals relying on
property searches and visits to property.

Equally if you are aware of an abandoned property and
want to trace the heirs or family of the deceased owner this can be done by
tracing agents. One example would be where an abandoned property within a
community causes hygiene and safety problems for neighbours.

For more information on tracing relatives and heirs in the UK and Spain
contact De Cotta Law on:

Tel.: +34 952 527 014
Fax: +34 952 523 428

Email: [email protected]

Nerja Office:
Calle Diputación 11
29780 Nerja

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