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.
Client reviews of our legal services, as uploaded by clients directly to the Wufoo survey platform:
- Caroline R, BarcelonaTuesday, April 24, 2018Miguel has been great!
His English is excellent, he explains everything clearly, emails when he says he will, and is very efficient in the service he provides.
I'd definitely recommend him to ...friends.
- George Salib, LondonMonday, April 23, 2018Jose Antonio was very professional and has assisted me in every step of the purchase of my flat in Alicante.
He also assisted me by advising of the most suitable area according to my needs. His com...mitment and dedication is excellent.
Jose Antonio was very easy to approach and happy to help in any way he can.
I will definitely recommend him to my family and friends.
- Liezl Pulido, PhilippinesMonday, April 23, 2018Rosa never stopped working very hard, she went way above what she needed to do...she never gave up on me and always did more than I thought anyone would.
I am so blessed I got Rosa to help me I co...uldn't have gotten a better lawyer she's the best.
Thank you Rosa from the bottom of my heart you are a wonderful person, I am so grateful to you.
- KJB, United KingdomFriday, April 20, 2018Francisco was professional and efficient. Very good value for money.
- Julie Smith, TorrellanoFriday, April 20, 2018I can't compliment my solicitor enough.
From our initial meeting right through to my ultimate divorce (with no unpleasant surprises the entire duration of the entire process), he immediately respo...nded to my many enquiries, always had mine and my daughter's best interests at the forefront of any considerations and was well worth every penny of his extremely reasonable fee.
Excellent value for money, totally approachable and very professional and understanding. I highly recommend him and will continue to retain his services for other matters in the future.
- SH, EnglandFriday, April 20, 2018Very satisfied with the service provided. Miguel was approachable and prompt in replying.
- Vicky S, UKTuesday, April 17, 2018Alvaro answered my emails and all my questions efficiently and helped me were I did not understand through the whole process of moving the tenant and selling the property and arranging and introducing... an estate agent.
He has exceeded my expectations after being let down by previous lawyers in Spain when its been a very traumatic time for me.
- Pernilla, LondonFriday, April 13, 2018We had excellent service from Esther at Advocate Abroad when buying a property in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
Esther speaks both Spanish and English, and is very friendly, professional and genuine. ...She took care of the whole purchasing process and explained all the steps for us, including giving advice on Spanish bank account, NIE numbers etc.
We are very pleased with all the help we have received and can highly recommend Esther. Thank you so much!
- David Pratt, Alhaurin del GrandeFriday, April 13, 2018Alvaro gives me confidence that he understands the issue and gives me practical solutions. He works rapidly and efficiently. I would strongly recommend his services.
- ESP, LondonWednesday, March 28, 2018Cristina was extremely helpful, she couldn't have done more. Her English is sufficient and I would definitely recommend her to friend.
- L Marshall, LondonWednesday, March 28, 2018Rosa was excellent. Very efficient and professional.
Responsive and always available. Extremely helpful - we did not understand the process and she guided us through.
We would not hesitate to ...recommend her.
- Phil Loughton, Las Lagunas de MijasTuesday, March 20, 2018Alvaro was extremely helpful and the simple process I needed managed was dealt with quickly and efficiently. I would certainly recommend him to friends.
- John Burchell, Arroyo De la MielTuesday, March 20, 2018Alvaro was very professional, helpful and friendly. Understood things quickly. Explained things well in English. Very easy to contact at any time.
- A. Kavanagh, GlasgowThursday, March 15, 2018Miguel provided a great service and fully explained to me about the procedures with tax & business registration. My emails and questions where always answered straight away with an immediate response ...or solution.
Very helpful and very friendly I would definitely recommend to anyone considering using Advocate Abroad
- Robert Davies, MallorcaMonday, March 12, 2018Very supportive and clear on producing a suitable divorce settlement. Efficient, understanding and professional.
- A.Kavanagh, GlasgowFriday, March 09, 2018Rosa was exceptional at helping me setting up my business abroad.
This was a big move for me and Rosa fully explained everything to me in detail so I had a full and clear understanding of the lega...l side of things as well as always promptly responding to any emails or questions I had.
I couldn’t of asked for a better lawyer and I would 100% recommend Rosa to anyone who is deciding to move abroad.
Great service could not be happier.
- Adam Clark, TenerifeFriday, March 09, 2018Oliver was very professional. He explained things very clearly and honestly at all times and in the end we got the best result possible in my particular case.
Many thanks to him for his high level ...of service.
- Patrick Martel, CanadaWednesday, March 07, 2018For being in another country and all our back and forth communicating over emails .. I thought Rosa did a brilliant job. Thankfully she was able to help where no one else was willing ..
- Robert Scott, UKWednesday, March 07, 2018First class service. Rosa's professionalism, advice and patience were all exemplary! Keep up the good work. Will certainly recommend the service to friends!
- Martina, PlymouthMonday, March 05, 2018Erardo was fantastic and helped immensely during a very difficult situation.
He consulted with my lawyer in the UK and explained to her what needed done. Without him the situation would not have be...en resolved. He was very understanding and I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending him. Outstanding.
- M Pearce, MarbellaMonday, March 05, 2018Miguel was extremely helpful, he couldn't have done more:
Always kept us updated on the progress of our purchase
Always responded to emails in a professional and timely manner
Always explained to... our understanding all aspects of the legalities about the purchase
Very approachable,courteous and professional
So much better to deal with than UK property lawyers!
- Tony, LondonWednesday, February 28, 2018The service I received from nada was very helpful.
The tasks were completed to the highest standard and would definitely use her services again in the future. All correspondence was received in a ...very timely manner. Highly recommended.
- Holly, LanzaroteFriday, February 23, 2018The divorce process could have been explained more clearly and accurately so that a more realistic time for completion can be attained.
- Julia Alcock, Puerto Rico, Gran CanariaThursday, February 22, 2018Esther was very friendly and approachable. She was professional and answered any questions I asked. We would definitely use her again in the future.
- Tamara Malcolm, MallorcaTuesday, February 20, 2018Rosa was and is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Her advice was excellent and i will definitely be using her expertise again in the future.
- Nick Nicolaou, OviedoTuesday, February 20, 2018Very Satisfied with Miguel's work. He was very helpful and we would definitely use his services again in the future.
- Gavin Jones, UKMonday, February 19, 2018It was a real pleasure to have Miguel working on my behalf to file my non-resident taxes. He was extremely helpful, gave reassuring advice and I had a high level of confidence in the transactions.
...Miguel is now acting as my fiscal representative in Spain and I plan to continue to use his firm's services for all my tax requirements.
- Martin Hickey, BenidormSunday, February 18, 2018Very friendly and knowledgeable and professional.
Juan explained the plus and the negatives on various subjects and allowed us to make up our own mind.
I have already recommended him to our fri...ends.
- Andrew Bullen, UKFriday, February 16, 2018Rosa was very professional at all times when dealing with me. Her English was second to none and she always kept me informed of progress via email promptly.
I wouldn't hesitate to use Rosa in the ...future for any legal issues I have.
- Tamara Reeves, AustraliaThursday, February 15, 2018Anna was very knowledgeable and had prior experience dealing with English clients. She spent a lot of time explaining information and I was never rushed.
I have continued to use Anna since my firs...t meeting as I trust her judgement and know that she will look after my best interests.