Wills Drawn-up in Spain
The most straightforward situation is where the testator has drawn-up a will in Spain and in accordance with the legal provisions for creating a valid will.
How to File a Will in Spain
Making a will in Spain to cover your Spanish assets is a sensible action that will save time, money and stress for your heirs. The procedure is as follows:
- Contact an English-speaking lawyer with experience in matters of probate.
- The solcitor will draft a will that covers your assets in Spain and will distribute those assets according to your wishes and the law of your nationality.
- Note carefully, it is important to highlight the fact that this will applies to your Spanish assets and not any other assets you may have elsewhere – if that is your intention.
- The will is taken to a notary to have it formally drawn-up in a public document. The notary will hand over a copy of the will and retain the original for storage.
- The notary informs the Central Registry for Wills in Madrid of the existence of the will.
- When the time comes, your beneficiaries can obtain a certificate from the central registry that will certify that the will (of which they will have the copy the notary handed over) is in fact your final will and testament.
Creating a Spanish will greatly simplify matters though there still remains a series of actions that need to be carried out in order to have an estate’s assets distributed correctly.
It is not advisable to try to do so without the assistance of a qualified expert in inheritance matters in Spain.
1. The first thing that needs to be carried-out is to obtain the Death Certificate (Certificado de Defunción ). If death occurred in Spain then this can be obtained from the Civil Registry (Registro Civil) where the death occurred. The address of the local Registro Civil can be found by going to: Registro Civil .
If the testator died outside Spain then a death certificate must be obtained from the relevant authority in that state. For example, if the testator died in England or Wales, information on obtaining a death certificate can be requested by clicking on the following links:
Please note that if the Death Certificate is not written in Spanish then it must be translated and legalised i.e have the Apostille stamp attached. It can then be used as an equivalent to the Spanish ‘Certificado de Defunción’.
2. With the Certificado de Defunción or legalised Death Certificate arranged then the next step is to request the Certificado de Registro General de Actos de Última Voluntad (RGAUV). The RGAUV certificate is issued by the central office for wills and testaments in Madrid and verifies the existence or otherwise of a Spanish will.
It will be necessary to wait for a period of 15 days from the date when death occurred before ordering the certificate. If ordering the certificate then there is an administrative charge that requires completing form 790. It will be necessary to send an original (not a copy) of the death certificate and it normally takes around 10 days to receive the certificate.
3. It may also be convenient at this stage to acquire any Life Insurance Contract that may exist. If the life insurance contract was taken out in Spain then it will be registered in the same place as the RGAUV certificate.
If however, as is more likely, the life insurance was taken out in a country of origin such as the UK or Ireland then the insurance company will have their own process.
This will typically involve sending an original (not a copy) of the death certificate and completing whatever form the insurance company uses.
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Certfied Copy of the Will
4. Having the first two certificates on the list allows us to get a Certified copy of the will from the notary in which the will was signed. This must be an authorised copy and not the simple copy that a testator would typically take away after signing the will at the notary’s office.
The RGAUV certificate will identify the most recent and therefore legitimate will as well as the notary office in which the will was signed. It is in this notary office that the will is kept and where an authorised copy can be obtained by presenting the Death Certificate and RGAUV certificate.
The cost is determined by the age and the number of pages in the will. The persons who are permitted to request this copy are those named in the will as beneficiaries or as executors of the will.
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