When you take the decision to buy a property in Spain you are far more likely to be concerned about your future enjoyment of the property than what is likely to occur upon your death. For this reason you have to make the necessary provisions to ensure that family and other loved ones will eventually benefit.

If you own a property in Spain it is advisable but not essential that you make a Spanish Will.
If you trust only in your English Will or the laws of intestacy (if there is no English Will) then you will find there will be increased bureaucracy and administration costs because the relevant documents for your inheritance will need to be translated to the spanish language and notarised with a special stamp called Apostille de la Hague, and also you need present all these documents in the U.K. Foreign Office.
This process is very expensive, complicated and slow.

Making a Spanish Will is a sensible decision and the most popular way is the OPEN WILL to be executed before a Spanish Notary. It is advisable to employ the services of a Spanish lawyer in order to prepare your Spanish Will in accordance with your instructions.

Our service include:

  1. Legal assistance in the notary.
  2. Will written in spanish and english language.

1. Types of Spanish Wills

In the Spanish legal system, there are rules governing the distribution of property after death.There are two different types of succesions:

  1. Testate Succession, when the deceased person has expressed his wishes in the form of a will.
  2. Intestate Succession which arises when a person dies intestate. In this case, the statutory law rules will govern the distribution of their properties, rigths and assets.

According with the Spanish Civil Code (article 676 Spanish Civil Code) there are three types of common wills:

  1. TESTAMENTO OLÓGRAFO ( HOLOGRAFAPHIC WILL)
  2. TESTAMENTO ABIERTO ( OPEN WILL)
  3. TESTAMENTO CERRADO ( CLOSED WILL)

1) HOLOGRAFIC WILL

The legal conditions of the HOLOGRAFIC WILL are the following:

  • The testator will be necessary adult.
  • It must be written totally in the handwriting of the testator.
  • The testator have to sign the will.
  • The will have to includes the date (year, month and date when the will was written or made).
  • If your are foreigner you can use your own language.

The holografic will have to be verified (“protocolizado”) as genuine before a judge ( juzgado de primera instancia) with jurisdiction to act in the place where the will is made.

The judge will verify the the handwriting of the decedent by three witnesses who knows the testator.

Once it is verified, the judge will enforce the will’s contents. The estate shall be distributed in accordance with the provisions of the will.

2) OPEN WILL

This is the usual type of will for most people in Spain. This type of will is the best option because is not expensive ( more or less 300.- Euros or 200 sterling pounds) and is very easy. You only have to go the the Notary and sign your spanish will ordered by your Spanish Solicitor according your wishes. According with Article 694 Spanish Civil Code “ Open wills shall be executed before a Notary with jurisdiction to act in the place where the will is made”. It is made before a Spanish Notary , who shall keep the original document in his files (protocolo) and will send a notification ( simple copy) of the will to the Registro Central de Última Voluntad ( Central Registry of Spanish Wills) located in Madrid.

The testator shall express his testamentary intentions orally or in writing to the Notary. Once the Notary has drafted the will in accordance with your instructions, stating the place, year, month, day and time of its being granted, and the testator has been advised of his right to read it himself, the Notary shall read it out loud so that the testator may affirm whether or not it represents his intentions.

The will shall be executed at once by the testator with capacity to do so and shall be signed by such witnesses and other persons as are required to be present, according to the circumstances ( In this case The Notary may request the presence of 2 witnesses, who can also be required in case the testator is blind or illiterate).

In the event that the testator affirms that he is not able to sign, one of the witnesses shall sign it at his request and on his behalf.

3) CLOSED WILL

In this type of will your provisions and appointments are secrets because the testator will keep his/her provisions ( the will ) in an envelope and closes in the presence of the Spanish Notary.

You shall declare before the notary that your provisions are contained in the envelope and declare whether you have written them by yourself or it has been written by a third person, also you shall declare whether you have signed it or it has been signed by a third person for you. ( Articles 684,685 and 686 Spanish Civil Code)

The notary then seals the envelope and signs it, then he files it and send a notification of the will to the Central Registry of Spanish Wills (Registro Central de Última Voluntad) located in Madrid.

This will cannot be made neither by blind nor by illiterate persons.

2. Why You Should Make A Spanish Will

When you take the decision to buy a property in Spain you are far more likely to be concerned about your future enjoyment of the property than what is likely to occur upon your death.

For this reason you have to make the necessary provisions to ensure that family and other loved ones will eventually benefit.

If you own a property in Spain it is advisable but not essential that you make a Spanish Will. If you trust only in your English Will or the laws of intestacy (if there is no English Will) then you will find there will be increased bureaucracy and administration costs because the relevant documents for your inheritance will need to be translated to the spanish language and notarised with a special stamp called Apostille de la Hague, and also you need present all these documents in the U.K. Foreign Office. This process is very expensive, complicated and slow.

Making a Spanish Will is a sensible decision and the most popular way is the OPEN WILL to be executed before a Spanish Notary. It is advisable to employ the services of a Spanish lawyer in order to prepare your Spanish Will in accordance with your instructions.

The OPEN WILL is a document signed in front of the Spanish Notary, reciting those members of your family and friends who you wish to see benefit from your estate.

The Spanish Notary, keeps the original document in his files (protocolo del Notario) and he will send a notification of the will to the CENTRAL REGISTRY OF SPANISH WILLS (Registro Central de Última Voluntad) located in Madrid.

The Notary may request the presence of 2 witnesses, who can also be required in case the testator is blind or illiterate.

As a foreign national the Spanish civil code allows you to leave your Spanish assets in accordance with the national law of your country of origin.

An English person would not therefore be obliged to leave a proportion of his estate to members of his family as is required of a Spaniard. The most important points to bear in mind in connection with Spanish OPEN WILLS:

  1. The Spanish will is individual; each person has to sign a Spanish Will.
  2. You need to make a Spanish Will disposing of your Spanish property in order to avoid time-consuming and expensive legal problems for your heirs. You can make a separate will, for example in U.K.disposing of assets outside of Spain and your Spanish will.
  3. As a foreigner, you will find that Spanish authorities do not oblige you to follow the Spanish law of compulsory heirs, in which you must leave two-thirds of your estate to your children (LA LEGITIMA). You can leave your estate to whomever you choose, but you will be subject to Spanish inheritance tax, which is high when property is left to non-relatives