Spanish Inheritance without a Will

According to the article 9 of the Spanish Civil Code, the law applicable to an inheritance is determined by the nationality of the deceased. The 8th section of the referred to article specifies that, regarding the applicable law, there is no distinction made as a result of the location of the assets.

Impact of EU Regulation No 650/2012

That said, things have changed as a consequence of the EU Regulation No 650/2012 of 4th July 2012, on “jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession”.

Article 21 of that Regulation establishes, as a general rule, that “the law applicable to the succession as a whole shall be the law of the State in which the deceased maintained habitual residence at the time of death”. Where, by way of exception, it is clear from all the circumstances of the case that, at the time of death, the deceased was manifestly more closely connected with a State other than the State whose law would be applicable under the previous paragraph, the law applicable to the succession shall be the law of that other State.

According to Article 22, a person may choose as the law that governs the succession of their assets as a whole, the law of that State whose nationality they possessed at the time of making the choice, or at the time of death. This Regulation entered into force on the 17th of August 2015.

No Valid Will

As a result, if there is no valid will, that states that the testator wishes to apply the rules of their country of origin, and the testator was ordinarily resident in Spain at the time of death, the the rules of intestacy of Spain will apply.

If such rules do not apply, for instance because the testator was ordinarily resident in the UK, then the rules of intestacy local to their place of residence in the UK will apply.

Documentation Required to Process an Inheritance if no Will

In the UK it is typical, in the absence of a last will and testament, for a close relative to swear an oath and obtain ‘Letters of Administration’ which confer the right to deal with any assets in the name of the deceased, in accordance with the laws of intestacy.

Matters become complicated in Spain as a result of the local notary and land registrar sometimes insisting on Spanish documents, impossible to obtain from the UK.

Ultimately, some notaries will accept the Letters of Administration, duly legalised and translated by a sworn translator. Others will require a certificate of law from a legal source in the UK (such as a notary or a solicitor) which states the applicable line of succession according to the rules of intestacy of that region of the UK.

The above will be required together with a death certificate (if death took place outside of Spain then this death certificate may also need to be translated and legalised) and also identification documents relating to the beneficiaries and NIE numbers.

So, in summary, if you are planning to become resident in a European country other than the country of your nationality, such as say Spain, and you wish the rules of succession of your country of origin, say England, to apply, then you must state this explicitly in your Last Will and Testament. Otherwise, Spanish law will apply and the system of forced heirs that pre-determines the beneficiaries rather than permitting you to elect them, will apply.

36 Lawyers Offering Inheritance Services in Spain

Testimonials for our Inheritance service
  • Yolande Van-de-l'Isle
    Yolande Van-de-l'Isle, London

    Jose understood my needs and was able to do all the things that I needed. He was extremely approachable and did everything necessary.


    I understood what he was doing and what was required of me to do. I was also very happy with the price paid.


    Jun 29, 2020
  • Abbie Orsini
    Abbie Orsini, England

    Rosa responded efficiently I was extremely happy and satisfied with this !


    She explained everything I needed to know and more to help me understand. At the beginning I found the process daunting Rosa took this feeling way and helped me feel at ease.


    Paying was straight forward and I was well informed with fees etc. Rosa took a very professional approach and I felt comfortable approaching her about any issues I had.


    She is a credit to advocate abroad !!!!! Thank you for your help !!!!!!!!!❤️


    Jun 18, 2020
  • Gail Maher
    Gail Maher, Torrenueva

    Alvaro is brilliant.


    He comes across very professional and friendly,nothing too much trouble.


    As I was unable to go to Spain initially all communication was via phone and was put at ease straight away as he understood exactly what was required to deal with my case, and all went exceptionally well. I was able to meet Alvaro in August to pass over documents required and made me very welcome.


    I have been so pleased with everything I have now engaged him on a further instruction on our property in Torrenueva..


    Dec 11, 2019
  • Andrew Hales
    Andrew Hales, Fuengirola

    We dealt with Angela, and had a superb service - she was efficient, clear, timely and exceptionally helpful. We would recommend this respectable Solicitor who has excellent English.


    Trustworthiness is so important, and step by step help was very much appreciated. Thank you Angela of myAdvocate Fuengirola.


    Oct 23, 2019
  • Mr Swildens
    Mr Swildens, Alicante and Belgium

    I'm very happy with the services received: I started with José in Alicante on various subjects whom than handed me over to Miguel for another case because he said Miguel was much more experienced in the field I needed assistance, I can appreciate professionals knowing their business.


    In the beginning when I started emailing with your good selves I experienced difficulties receiving mails from advocate abroad, it was a server issue from advocate abroad, I repeatedly asked Miguel and José about it but they could not find anything wrong. At this moment I no longer experience these problems.


    Sep 20, 2019
  • Isabel Albert
    Isabel Albert, Valencia

    Inmaculada has always responded to all my queries and explained and provided excellent solutions. She is very approachable, diligent and professional.


    Sep 17, 2019
  • Ole Sørensen
    Ole Sørensen

    Fast and good follow up by Erardo.


    Jul 30, 2019
  • Irene Hyde Christie
    Irene Hyde Christie, Coin

    I am very pleased with the service provided by Francisco. He has been most helpful and responded very quickly to all my emails.


    Jul 26, 2019
  • Franco Trio
    Franco Trio, United Kingdom

    Rosa always responded promptly to any email I sent.


    She kept me informed and provided alternatives and 3rd party services (translation).


    Thank you Rosa for your assistance, perseverance and honesty in helping my mum and I. We will definitely recommend you.


    Apr 10, 2019
  • Marcus Bond
    Marcus Bond, Fuengirola

    Proactive, great communication, thoroughly recommend.


    Feb 14, 2019
  • Kevin
    Kevin, Algarobba Costa

    Clear information throughout, well explained and always had my confidence.


    Jan 08, 2019
  • Michael Bates
    Michael Bates, UK

    Francisco was very easy to deal with. Very professional. Would not hesitate to recommend him to friends.


    Jul 27, 2018
  • Jason Yorke
    Jason Yorke, United Kingdom

    Beatriz was really helpful and always kept me informed at all stages. She is very professional and a pleasure to deal with.


    Jul 19, 2018
  • Sarah Finnagan
    Sarah Finnagan, England

    Francisco was fantastic and helped me through every single step and helping understanding everything.


    Price was very reasonable i have no complaints at all.


    Very easy to get hold of and very quick at responding would definitely go back to him - thankyou so much Francisco for everything.


    Sep 21, 2017
  • Michael Tenerife
    Michael Tenerife, UK

    Rosa excelled in all of the criteria listed for evaluation.


    Extremely responsive, understanding, professional, and offered great value for money. Rosa explained the situation clearly and provided the clearest solution every time.


    I just can't imagine how Rosa could have done more. Truly excellent service.


    Aug 07, 2017
  • Richard Anthony Poole
    Richard Anthony Poole, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Very responsive, very understanding, value for money, has a great ability to explain and provide the appropriate legal solutions, very approachable and very professional in dealing me.


    May 03, 2017
  • LM
    LM, Ibiza

    Cristina was amazing and very helpful and i would highly recommend her services again.


    I am very satisfied and I definitely would use the same lawyer again in the future.


    Mar 10, 2017
  • Mike B
    Mike B, South of England

    Beatriz responded immediately to my first approach and always quickly thereafter, understood and knew the law/background, carried out local activities in addition on my behalf, good value for money, helped us through an unfamiliar situation very well in a personable and pleasant way.


    People had warned me the key to this was finding a trustworthy lawyer in Spain so I approached a couple of lawyers in Nerja and judged on their first response, Beatriz obviously passed that test.


    Dec 15, 2016
  • AS
    AS, Denmark

    Jose was very helpful, always happy to assist.


    I am very satisfied the service provided by my lawyer.


    Dec 08, 2016
  • Diana Rawstron
    Diana Rawstron, London

    Domingo provided an excellent service on this matter and I was very pleased that I had found him through your website.


    I definitely use the same lawyer again in the future.


    Nov 03, 2016
  • Mrs. Irene C Price
    Mrs. Irene C Price, Acton Trussell

    It was a pleasure to deal with Francisco. He spoke excellent English. He was professional and courteous at all times, and responded to any queries I had by return, taking time to explain complicated legal procedure in a manner I could understand.


    For the work Francisco did, his charges were good value for money. I would recommend his services without hesitation.


    Oct 12, 2016
  • John Fitzpatrick
    John Fitzpatrick, UK

    Outstanding advice and service Jose was polite courteous and responsive and very sensitive in dealing with my fathers complex bereavement case.


    Jun 29, 2015
  • AS
    AS, Brussels

    My lawyer spoke English more or less fluently and was very helpful.


    He responded quickly to my request, understood the issues concerned and provided understandable and useful advice. A clearer pricing structure would have been helpful.


    However, I was satisfied with the service and would definitely use this lawyer again.


    Oct 23, 2014
  • Glynis Stanley
    Glynis Stanley, Dublin

    I appreciated the in-depth information, time and willingness to explore all angles to help what was a difficult situation.


    As I had previously had very unsatisfactory dealings legally in Spain I left my appointment feeling that I had found a Practice that was honourable and trustworthy....very happy to recommend.


    Feb 12, 2014
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