Does an English Will Cover Spanish Property?

Dealing with an inheritance under a foreign Will is similar to that as for a Spanish Will, but with added verification and language requirements
Article Published: 01 May, 2011, Updated: 23 Apr, 2023 under Create Will & Testament

Foreign nationals with assets in Spain often fail to draft a local Will, leaving beneficiaries unsure if the English Will that was created will cover Spanish property owned by the deceased.

The process for dealing with an inheritance under a foreign Will is in fact the same as that for a Spanish Will with the only addition being that all of the relevant documents need to be legalised and officially translated so that the Spanish notary can draw-up the necessary Spanish documentation allowing for assets to be distributed to the heirs. Unfortunately this will add to the expense and in addition can delay the process substantially.

In order for a foreign Will, for example an English will, to be valid and given effect to in Spain, it needs to be verified as being:

  • A valid will with regard to inheritance laws in England & Wales
  • That the testator was of sound mind
  • Any executor or trustees named in the will are empowered to administer the estate

A will in the UK will typically name one or more executors to handle testamentary matters when the testator dies. The executor should request a 'Grant of Probate' which is an official document issued by the probate registry in the UK that certifies the executor as having the right to deal with the assets of the testator.

This may be done personally or a solicitor can make the application for a fee.

Once the Grant of Probate has been issued by the probate registry, that document must be legalised by having the Hague Apostille stamp attached by a Notary Public whereupon it is ready to be translated into Spanish. This can be done by either sending it to an sworn translator in Spain or to the closest Spanish consulate.

Once the Will has been legalised and translated it is simply a matter of following the standard process for an inheritance under a Spanish will.

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