Are you an expat living in Spain? Then this applies to you!
Changes to Inheritance Law in Spain
On 17 August 2015 a new European Regulation came into effect, radically changing Spanish inheritance for expats. Previously, the rule of thumb for Spanish inheritance law was that the deceased’s estate would be governed by the law of the country of their nationality. As a result, if an English person living in Spain passed away, their estate would be subject to English inheritance law, irrelevant of the fact that their place of residence was in Spain. However, with the new European Certificate of Succession, this has all changed.
What are the consequences of this change for Spanish inheritance for expats?
As a consequence of this new legislation, the law applicable to the testator’s estate is no longer that of their nationality but rather that of their place of habitual residence at the time of death. This brings with it some very significant consequences for expats living in Spain. Whereas before an English person residing in Spain would have had English succession law applied to their estate following their death, now Spanish inheritance law will apply. According to Spanish inheritance law, the estate would be obligatorily divided into three parts, quite possibly contravening any testamentary provisions in the deceased’s will. Obviously, this would come as a terrible shock to inheritors, and could raise a whole myriad of financial problems.
Is there any way around it?
Thankfully, another change has also come into effect with the European Certificate of Succession – you are now able to choose which national inheritance law you wish to be applied to your estate. If you are an expat living in Spain and want the inheritance law of your country of nationality to apply to your estate upon your death, you must make an explicit declaration of this in your will. If you hold multiple nationalities, you can state the one that you wish to be applied to your estate in the will.
If you are an expat living in Spain it is extremely important to amend your will now to ensure that your estate is divided according to your wishes and avoid potentially big problems for your heirs.
We can help you to write a new will or amend an existing one to best reflect your wishes for your estate in light of the European Certificate of Succession. This can be done in person in one of our offices in Granada or Sotogrande, or electronically with a power of attorney.
Contact us at Andalucía Lawyers to arrange an appointment to discuss your specific case.