Inheritance News from De Cotta Law – Intestacy – dying without a valid will

Filed under : Tax Planning - Inheritance, Wills, Probate & Inheritance

Inheritance news from De Cotta Law

Valid wills

The Spanish notarial system provides more
security for those who make a valid will. This is because there is a Central
Wills Registry where each notarial will is registered by the notary. The
original will is always kept on the Protocol (archive) of the notary where you
sign the will. The information at the Central Wills Registry will be the date
and place where you made the will; your full name and date of birth and the
names of your parents will assist with identifying you.

A valid English will must be witnessed by two
witnesses who are physically present when you sign. These witnesses should not
stand to benefit from your will or be family members. However although wills
can be registered in England there is no obligation to do so and most wills are
kept at home or with the local solicitor in England who prepared them for you.

Spanish assets in a will

It is always advisable to execute a valid
Spanish will before a notary if you own Spanish assets. The reason this is
important is that property does not generally pass to your surviving spouse
automatically in Spain. 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. While it would be difficult to overturn the application of your
national law to your estate in wills made with this clause there will be added
certainty in 2014. This is when the European legislation changes to state that
you can elect the law to be applied to your succession and that this will be

The important thing to remember is that
prevention is not only better than cure in this situation it is also less
costly than cure.

For more information on Wills &
Inheritance or any other legal matter, please contact Jon Sutton at De Cotta

Tel: 951 315


[email protected]