What to do if you suffer a bereavement in Spain – Wills, Probate and Inheritance in Spain

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

Many British ex-patriots move to Spain
later in life to enjoy their retirement in a warmer climate. An unfortunate
consequence of this is that when they eventually pass away, the next of kin,
whether here in Spain or back in the UK are confronted with dealing with the
funeral arrangements and the inheritance matters. This can seem overwhelming at
what is already a difficult time.

De Cotta Law Legal Services for foreigners in Spain

Following the death of a British national
in Spain, the next of kin, or a formally appointed representative, must decide
whether to repatriate the deceased to the UK, or carry out a local burial or
cremation. If the deceased was covered by insurance, the next of kin must
contact the insurance company without delay. If there is no insurance cover,
the family will have to meet the cost of repatriation or burial.

The death certificate, is issued by the
Civil Registry (Registro Civil) at the Court Building (Juzgado) or at the
Justice of the Peace (Juzgado de Paz). You should request as many copies as you
need. The funeral director will normally assist with this. The death can then
be registered with your local British Consular office.

If the circumstances of the death were not
unusual, registration of the death is permitted and the body will be released
for repatriation or burial within a few hours. Under a strict interpretation of
Spanish law, burials should take place within 72 hours of death. However, in
the case of foreign nationals, the authorities will normally allow as much time
as necessary, although this should not be longer than a few days.

Cremation is now widely accepted in Spain
and there are modern, well-equipped crematoria, except in rural areas. Ashes
can also be taken back to the UK by next of kin with minimal bureaucracy. If
this is not possible, local undertakers will be able to arrange the necessary
paperwork and transportation. There are no restrictions on movement of ashes
within the EU.

As far as dealing with the inheritance is
concerned, it is important to use the services of a reliable Spanish law firm.
The lawyer will then have to ascertain whether or not the deceased died with an
English or Spanish will or whether they died intestate, that is without a will.
Depending on whether or not wills were prepared will determine the legal work
required to realise the assets on behalf of the beneficiaries or surviving

Jon Sutton is a practising English
solicitor and is registered with the College of Lawyers in Malaga and
specialises in English & Spanish wills & Probate with the international
law firm of De Cotta Law  which has
offices in Mijas Costa, Nerja and Coín.

Jon can be contacted on (0034) 951315161
or by e-mail [email protected]