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Inheritance Tax in Spain

Inheritance tax in Spain can be relatively complex compared to inheritance tax in the UK.  There are some fundamental differences that are set out below.  In addition, the nil-rate band and various other deductions vary depending upon the location of the assets in Spain.  

Further, depending upon whether there are assets in the United Kingdom or in other jurisdictions it may be necessary to obtain documentation in Spain to ensure that inheritance tax is not paid twice upon the same assets.   

Hence if you are administering an estate of inheriting assets in Spain it is recommended that you seek expert Spanish legal advice at an early stage in order to avoid problems in the future.  

Inheritance Tax in Spain - How does it work?

When the beneficiaries of an estate with assets in Spain are identified, whether that is set out in a will or by following the intestacy rules, each beneficiary will be entitled to a share of the overall assets.   When it comes to calculating the inheritance tax payable each beneficiary benefits from a nil rate band.  That means that if the share of the estate they inherit is below the nil rate band, they will pay no inheritance tax in Spain.  
If the share of the estate to be inherited by the beneficiary is higher than the nil rate band, then inheritance tax will be payable.  The rate of that tax depends upon the overall value of the estate.  The higher the value of the estate, the higher the rate of taxation.  
The value of the nil rate band depends upon the relationship of the beneficiary to the person who has passed away.  The closer the relationship, the higher the nil-rate band.  If there is no blood relationship or marriage between the deceased and the beneficiary, it is unlikely that there will be a nil-rate band.  Spouses and children of the deceased benefit from the highest nil rate band.  In addition, the autonomous communities in Spain are entitled to offer further reductions and many do.  
It is vital that you seek independent Spanish legal advice in relation to Spanish inheritance tax to ensure that you benefit from all of the possible deductions in place.  

Inheritance Tax in Spain - Jointly Owned Property

It is important to note that the way property is jointly owned in Spain can affect the inheritance tax position.
When a property is jointly owned by, for example, two people who are married, in Spanish law this means that each joint owner owns 50% of the property.  The property will not pass automatically to a surviving spouse, nor will it be exempt from inheritance tax.
If one owner passes away before the other the the acceptance of inheritance process must be completed before the surviving owner can sell, transfer or mortgage the property.  When the acceptance of inheritance is completed it may be that there is some inheritance tax to pay in Spain.  This depends very much upon the value of the property and its location in Spain.  In the vast majority of cases a surviving spouse will pay no Spanish inheritance tax or a very small amount indeed as a result of the nil rate band. 
Because of this situation a number of companies exist purporting to solve this problem by advising you to form a company.  Please read our article on the subject to find out why this approach is not recommended.

Inheritance Tax in Spain - Brexit

Notwithstanding that the UK has left the EU, subject to the effect of the transition period, the rules regarding the imposition of inheritance tax have changed in Spain to such an extent that Brexit will not affect at all the amount of inheritance tax payable by those resident in the UK, as everyone inheriting in Spain, no matter their nationality or country of residence, is now subject to to the same rules as those resident in Spain.
For more information on the possible impact of Brexit, please see here.

Inheritance Tax in Spain - Next Steps

If you are administering an estate or you are a beneficiary of an estate with assets in Spain feel free to contact us for a free initial consultation.  E&G Solicitors in Spain has considerable experience and expertise in this area.  You can reach us by email at info@solicitorsinspain.com, by telephone on 020 3478 1420 or by completing our contact form.


E&G Solicitors in Spain did a first class job dealing with my sister’s estate, offering a professional but personal service.

Gerry, Hampshire