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Why you should make a Spanish will

A brief guide to why you should make a Spanish will if you own assets in Spain
Transcript: 

Information relevant to the COVID-19 crisis

During the COVID-19 crisis many people are ensuring that their Wills reflect accurately what they want to happen to their assets when they die.  Of course, this is in large part because our mortality has been brought into sharp focus by the tragic early deaths of so many people over such a short time span.  It makes most sense to make a Spanish Will in relation to Spanish assets.  However, it makes more sense to have a Will that covers one’s Spanish assets than no Will at all.  Making a Spanish Will means being in Spain or visiting a Notary Public in your own country of residence.  That could be difficult at the moment.  If you need to make a Will in your own jurisdiction to cover your Spanish assets, then please be in touch with us.  If you live in England and Wales then we will be able to prepare a Will for you to sign now.  If you live in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or another country, then we will be able to ensure that your Will is valid and sufficiently clear for your Spanish estate to be administered upon your death.  This may be a temporary solution, so that once you are able to travel, or to visit a Notary Public in your own jurisdiction, you will be able to make a Spanish Will.

 

Hi.  I’m Jonathan Eshkeri, an English solicitor and Spanish abogado.  I practise law in England and in Spain, with offices in London and in Tarragona, just south of Barcelona.  In this video I’ll be talking about Spanish Wills.

One of the most difficult topics for people to discuss is what'll happen to their possessions when they die.  There are few things as certain as death, so unless you want to rely on whatever the law provides at the time you die, it makes a lot of sense to set down in black and white who'll get what.  Of course, as you already know I'm speaking about making a Will.  

Should I make a Spanish Will or an English Will?

Each country has its own rules regarding Wills, so that if you live and work in Birmingham you’ll probably make a Will according to English law.  Your English Will can apply to all of your assets anywhere in the world, what we lawyers call your universal estate.  That means that if, for example, you own property in Spain as at the date of your death and you've made an English Will leaving everything to your spouse, then your surviving spouse will be able to administer your estate according to the provisions of your English Will.  The trouble is that in my example your spouse will be using documentation issued by the English court to satisfy the Spanish authorities that he or she is to inherit your Spanish assets.  If your spouse engages a specialist cross border succession lawyer to administer your Spanish estate, then there ought to be no problem at all. 

If I’m presented with a Will drafted in Chinese according to the law of the People's Republic of China, I’ll make sure that the intention of the testator is carried out.  That’s because I spend most of my time specialising in cross border succession matters. 

If, however, an otherwise competent Spanish lawyer without experience in cross border succession work attempts to handle the administration of a Spanish estate using an English Will, the matter may take a lot longer to complete and he or she may not have the knowledge and / or the experience to minimise the tax impact of the inheritance.  A carefully drafted Spanish Will signed by you according to Spanish law, that dovetails with any other Will you have made in the UK or elsewhere, can ensure that your wishes are carried out and that the inheritance tax payable is reduced to the greatest extent provided by law.  In that way, whoever your spouse engages to handle the administration of your estate will be bound to do so according to your wishes as set out in your Spanish Will. 

The benefits of making a Spanish Will

One of the most important advantages of making a Spanish Will is that it’s signed before a Spanish Notary and stays at the Notary's office.  At the end of the year it’s bound into a volume with other documents signed during that year.  If the Notary moves away, or retires, or dies, then the original documents are passed on to another Notary in the same municipality.  When you make your Spanish Will the Notary will report to the Register of Last Wills at the Spanish Ministry of Justice the date on which you did so and the Notary's name, as well as your full name and date of birth.  

When you die, if you still own assets in Spain, then in order to administer your estate the beneficiaries of your estate will have to obtain a Certificate of Last Will from the Spanish Ministry of Justice.  That will set out the place at which you made your Will and will enable a beneficiary of your estate to obtain a certified copy of your Will.  With that, and your death certificate, the beneficiaries of your Spanish estate will be able to receive your Spanish assets in the way in which you set out in your Spanish Will by accepting the inheritance formally before a Spanish Notary.  By making a Spanish Will you can be absolutely certain of what’ll happen and how it’ll happen.  

Next steps

If you’d like advice and assistance with your Spanish Will, or if you have any queries that this video message hasn’t answered, please do be in touch with me by email or by telephone.  The information can be found on our website, www.solicitorsinspain.com.  Thanks for watching.

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