Spanish Inheritance Law for Non-Residents

Spanish Inheritance Law for Non-Residents: discover what only the top, expert probate lawyer in Spain know about spanish inheritance law for non-residents

When a close relative passes-away it is unfortunately not just a time to grieve, but also a time of bureaucracy. Dealing with the estate of a deceased loved one is not something that most of us are prepared for, and so it is all the more difficult to have to manage.

Whether or not a person was resident in Spain, there will still be Spanish bureaucracy to deal with when there were assets in Spain. This can be reduced substantially where a Spanish Will was drafted by the deceased.

In any case, a number of questions will typically arise in these situations: Is there a Spanish last Will & Testament or one signed in another country? Which inheritance law applies: Spanish or the law of the deceased’s country of origin? And, will the heirs need to pay any inheritance tax or not?

Which inheritance law applies?

If you are not resident in Spain, then Spanish law should not apply to your inheritance. Where you have been resident can sometimes be a tricky question, though for questions of taxation, this typically involves spending more than 183 days a year, it can also relate to where your primary source of income is located.

Even if you are resident in Spain, as long as you create a valid last Will & Testament that specifies your desire for the law of your country of origin to apply, then Spanish law will not apply.

That said, many married couples that are resident in Spain are not aware that in their future inheritance, Spanish law will be applied due to the fact that they are technically resident in Spain. This means that if one of them passes away, under Spanish law their legal assets will not automatically be inherited by the surviving spouse.

Therefore, if you don´t want your belongings to go to your direct family and don´t have a Last Will yet, it is vital that you sign this important legal document before a Spanish notary.

In this Last Will & Testament the first thing you would do is to declare that the inheritance law to be applied is that of your own country – which is usually much more flexible – rather than Spanish probate law.

Secondly, you can determine your exact wishes for the transfer of your assets following the regulations of your national law. You can also choose if you want your Spanish Last Will & Testament to only apply to your Spanish assets or to your assets in all countries.

Signing of the inheritance deeds at the notary

To be able to inscribe the deceased’s assets – such as a property, bank account or car- into the name of the legal beneficiaries, it is always necessary to sign the Inheritance Deeds at the Spanish notary.

Mostly this is done by a lawyer that represents the beneficiaries with an official Power of Attorney. The lawyer will provide the notary both with the Death Certificate as well as a certificate from the central registry stating whether or not there was a Spanish Last Will and, if yes, where it was signed. In this case the notary of course also needs to receive a certified copy of this Last Will.

Inscribing properties in name of the legal heir(s)

When the Notarised and Officially stamped copies of the inheritance deeds are returned, the lawyer can then proceed with the correct inscription of the estate’s assets into the name of the new owner at the appropriate Registry. The whole process from the signing of the deeds at the notary until the end of the process, is around 3 months.

In which case do I pay inheritance or gift tax?

Nowadays, inheritance or gift tax is the same for Spanish, European residents or non-European residents in Spain, but the percentage varies per region. In the Canary Islands heirs that are close family members like spouses, children, grandchildren or parents usually don´t pay inheritance or gift tax, but the tax return still needs to be carried-out.

Therefore, once the inheritance deeds are signed, the lawyer will fill out the obligatory forms on your behalf and pay any taxes due from such beneficiaries that do not benefit from tax exemption.

Depending on the country/region of residence of the deceased, the lawyer will send the documentation to either the Regional or National Tax Office. Finally, the lawyer will make sure that the local plusvalia tax is paid, where applicable.

25 Lawyers Offering Inheritance Services in Spain

Testimonials for our Inheritance service
  • Peter Morgan
    Peter Morgan, Mallorca

    Following our father's death, my brother and I asked Rosa to act for us and guide us through the Spanish probate legal process. There were several obstacles and Rosa was always there for us, explaining what was required and liaising with professional bodies e.g. the notary, to ensure that everything was done in a timely manner.


    Rosa also helped us immeasurably when my father’s estate was sold. The pandemic meant that it was difficult for us to travel to complete the sale paperwork but to overcome this Rosa became our Power of Attorney and again liaised with professional bodies e.g. buyer’s solicitors, the notary. Her English is excellent and her patience is inexhaustible. Thank you Rosa.


    Dec 02, 2020
  • Gail Maher
    Gail Maher, Fuengirola

    Hi, I would like to thank Alvaro very much for all his expertise. We had a very long journey from dealing with the inheritance will for my mother's apartment in Torrenueva to dealing with sale of the apartment.


    He was brilliant in every aspect. Nothing too much trouble. Very professional and would definitely recommend him to anyone in the future.


    So a big thank you and wishing you to continue delivering an excellent service. Regards Gail Maher


    Oct 21, 2020
  • Johanna Count
    Johanna Count, Benidorm

    Consuelo explained and took care of everything. She is easy to get in touch with and a pleasure to deal with.


    Having to deal with Spanish probate laws and procedures was overwhelming but Consuelo made it so straight forward.


    Oct 07, 2020
  • Stephen McCool
    Stephen McCool, UK

    José was attentive and sympathetic throughout in his dealings with my brother (in Australia) and me (in the UK).


    Ours was a problematical case which involved José making contact with a Spanish notary and subsequently applying for NIEs for us and acting Power of Attorney. After this he was involved in protracted negotiations on our behalf with a particularly unhelpful Spanish bank in the matter of inheritance.


    He was a calming influence when needed and never less than professional. He kept us fully informed at all times.


    Jul 29, 2020
  • Michael Armstrong
    Michael Armstrong, La Manga del Mar Menor

    Consuelo has the highest praise and gratitude from this family by somehow reclaiming inheritance tax from Madrid. Previous solicitors left a mess,partial/incorrect and missing documents were received very late.


    Despite obstacles such as denial from tax office and virus Consuelo promptly, courteously and professionally simply got on with the job and succeeded against all odds. We cannot thank her enough!


    Jul 27, 2020
  • 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
  • Jonathan Mackay
    Jonathan Mackay, Jaca

    Francisco was extremely professional and answered our many questions promptly and clearly, both by phone and email. We feel very lucky to have had Francisco handle our Spanish Fiscal declaration.


    The service was perfect, and we are very happy with the whole process.


    Mar 12, 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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