In order for beneficiaries to receive a Spanish inheritance, a Deed of Acceptance of Inheritance needs to be obtained in Spain. This is the Spanish probate equivalent and confirms the heirs to the Spanish inheritance. Probate in Spain can be achieved by the following 10 step process:
1. Obtain the Death Certificate.
If the deceased person’s death was registered outside of Spain, the death certificate will need to have a Hague Apostille stamp and be translated into Spanish. If the death occurred in Spain, a copy of the Spanish death certificate will be required.
2. Ascertain if there is a Spanish will.
It is possible to have more than one will (and is often advisable if you own assets in more than one country!). It is necessary to check whether the deceased had a Spanish will to deal with the inheritance of their Spanish assets.
To do this you should apply for the Certificate of Last Wishes (Certificado de Ultimas Voluntades) from the Spanish Central Wills Registry in Madrid which confirms whether there was (or was not) a Spanish will.
Wills in Spain are made in front of a Spanish notary. The Certificado de Ultimas Voluntades sets which notary is holding the latest will.
A copy of the Spanish will (if there is one) should be obtained from the notary.
3. Obtain Foreign Grant or Certificate
If there is a non-Spanish will only, a Grant of Probate (or equivalent court certificate from the home country of the deceased person) will need to be obtained.
If there is no will and the deceased was not resident in Spain, a Grant of Letters of Administration (or equivalent court certificate from the home country of the deceased person) should be obtained.
4. Give Power of Attorney to your Spanish lawyer
It is usually advisable for the heirs (beneficiaries/ executors as appropriate) to sign a Power of Attorney document allowing the Spanish lawyer appointed to deal with the estate with the authority to sign Spanish inheritance documents on their behalf.
5. Get NIEs
If the beneficiaries do not already have a Spanish fiscal number, they will need to obtain an NIE. The Spanish lawyer can obtain these on behalf of the beneficiaries if they have the authority to do so under the Power of Attorney.
6. Value the Spanish assets and calculate any Spanish inheritance tax due.
The amount of Spanish inheritance tax due will depend on the value of the assets, where in Spain the assets are located and how the beneficiaries are related to the deceased.
Calculating the amount of tax due at an early stage will allow time for provision of adequate funds to enable the tax payment to be made immediately following the signing of the Spanish Inheritance Deed (see .
7. Set up a Currency Broker Account
If the inheritance in Spain (ie the balance of the inherited Spanish bank account or the proceeds of the sale of a Spanish property) will be transferred to a beneficiary who will receive it in another currency ie British pounds) the beneficiaries should set up a currency broker account to make sure they maximise the amount of the inheritance received when transferring the money abroad and ensure the funds are not unnecessarily eroded.
8. Sign the deed of acceptance of inheritance.
The Spanish probate document, the deed of acceptance of inheritance (in Spanish called the escritura de aceptación y adjudicación de herencia) needs to be signed by all of the beneficiaries in front of a Spanish notary. If the beneficiaries are not able to attend, the Spanish lawyer can sign this under the Power of Attorney.
9. Payment of Spanish Notary fees and any inheritance tax.
Payment of Spanish inheritance tax must be made within 6 months of the date of death, otherwise interest and penalties will be added to the amount due. The tax can only be paid once the inheritance deed has been signed so it is important that the beneficiaries and the Spanish lawyer deal with the Spanish probate process as quickly and efficiently as possible where tax is due.
10. Transfer the Spanish assets to the beneficiaries.
If a transfer of funds is to be made the the beneficiaries and received in a currency other than euros, this should be paid into the beneficiary’s currency broker account so that the transfer can be made as costs effectively as possible.
Worldwide Lawyers regularly assist beneficiaries, executors and foreign lawyers with the Spanish inheritance process. If you are dealing with a deceased estate where there are assets in Spain, contact us for free initial guidance and a non-obligation quote from an English-speaking Spanish lawyer.
Contact us on 01244 470339 (if calling from outside of the UK: 0044 1244 470339) or firstname.lastname@example.org.