Making a Will assures us that our wishes will be fulfilled once we are gone. It also avoids confusion and makes the division and distribution of your inheritance simpler and more economical.
For a foreign citizen with assets in Spain to avoid problems and expenses when distributing those assets it is therefore best to make a Will in Spain. Cost of making a Will in Spain is inexpensive and assures that the subsequent distribution of assets is as simple as possible, avoiding many problems.
The ability of a foreign citizen to choose which law applies to their inheritance was made possible by the entry into force of the European Inheritance Regulation (R650 / 2015 Regulation (EU) no. 650/2012 of the European Parliament and Council, of July 4, 2012). This regulation came into force on August 17, 2015. Since that date, every foreign citizen with habitual residence in Spain should consider the possibility of choosing the national law of their own country as the governing law of their succession. Why?
The answer is simple: the regulation provides, as a general default rule, that in the event of the death of a foreigner in Spain (or in another member state covered by the Regulation), the law of the country of their last habitual residence at the time of death will apply (art. 21.1 RES). A good example that shows the importance of deciding which national law will be applicable is that of English citizens residing in Spain. In England there is absolute freedom to testify, so there are no legal limitations: the testator can leave his or her property to whomever he or she wants.
Therefore, if an English citizen dies in Spain without leaving a will in which he or she chooses that English law is applicable to his or her inheritance, then Spanish law will be applied for the division of the inheritance, and that will include the Spanish system of strict legal limitations. The result of inheritance under one legal system and under another is completely different. So, while a Spanish Will may well cheaper, easier and simpler, you are advised to consider which law you will ultimately choose, and legal advice will be vital to assist you in this decision, do not consider this decision only based on the cost of making a Will in Spain.
Also if you are a non- resident with assets in Spain, drafting a will in Spain is still the cheapest and easiest method of transmitting assets to beneficiaries. The alternatives include using for example an Irish or British will (or codicil attached to an existing Will) which would have it’s own set-up costs and then would additionally need to be legalised (at the Department of Foreign Affairs of the appropriate country) as well as translated and then have lawyer and notary costs applied- see the number of hidden expenses abroad where cost of making a Will in Spain becomes interesting.
Or, if there is no Will, then Letters of Administration would be required which would be expensive to obtain, legalise and translate, plus the lawyer and notary charges in Spain and would in all likelihood delay the transmission of the estate beyond the time-limit provided under Spanish law, with fines and penalties being applied by the Spanish government as a result.
The costs of a Spanish Will vary across Spain as some localities insist on the presence of a Sworn Translator while others will accept the presence of the beneficiary’s English-speaking lawyer. In general terms a notary will charge between 60€ – 80€ per simple Will and a lawyer will charge between 150€ – 250€. If a Sworn Translator is required, then those costs will be in addition to the lawyer and notary costs.