Inheriting a Spanish Bank Account

If you are dealing with an estate of a deceased person who held a bank account in Spain it can be quite complex (and very frustrating) to deal with the Spanish legal process required to release the balance held in the Spanish bank.

The process of inheriting a bank account in Spain is the same whether the balance of the account was €1000 or €1,000,000. There is no equivalent of the ‘small estates process’ in relation to Spanish bank accounts and joint accounts do not automatically pass to the surviving holder.

If you are dealing with an estate where the deceased has a bank account in Spain, hopefully the below information about the process of inheriting a Spanish bank account will be helpful.

How do I close the Spanish Bank account of someone who has died?

Spanish banks may all require slightly different documents in order to close an account of someone who has died and release the money to the beneficiary. They will however want to see at least the following documents:

  1. The deceased’s death certificate (this will usually need to be translated and apostilled if the deceased did not die in Spain).
  2. The deceased’s Will (if any)
  3. A certificate from the Spanish Wills Registry confirming that a Spanish will search has been carried out in Spain.
  4. Grant of Probate or equivalent if one has been obtained in the UK or another country outside of Spain and there is no Spanish will. This will usually need to be apostilled and translated).
  5. In some circumstances (i.e if the Will was a UK will or from another country other than Spain) a certificate of law to confirm certain aspects of the law of the country of where the will is from.
  6. A power of attorney from the beneficiaries and executors giving power of attorney to their Spanish lawyer or another person who will close the account in Spain.
  7. Spanish NIE numbers (Spanish Tax numbers) of the beneficiaries / executors.
  8. The sealed Spanish Inheritance tax declarations.

It can be quite complicated to obtain all of the above documents, especially if you are not Spanish and living in Spain.

It is therefore usually necessary to instruct a lawyer in Spain to deal with the Spanish Probate process.

If you need assistance from an English-speaking Spanish lawyer, please contact us on 01244 or email and we will be happy to provide a no-obligation quote. 

Why is it so complicated to deal with inheritance of a Spanish bank account?

Where a Spanish bank is notified of a death of the account holder (or one of the account holders where the account is held jointly), it will freeze the account.

Spanish banks can be held responsible for the Spanish inheritance taxes if they release the deceased’s money when Spanish Inheritance tax has not been paid (although Spanish banks are able to release money to beneficiaries for the payment of Spanish inheritance tax).

Spanish banks will therefore freeze the account and request evidence that the Spanish Probate Process has been dealt with and any Spanish inheritance taxes paid by the beneficiaries before releasing the money to prevent the Spanish tax authorities from claiming against the bank for any taxes not paid by the beneficiaries.

What is the Spanish inheritance process to close a joint bank account in Spain?

Where Spanish bank accounts are held jointly it is usually assumed that the balance is held in equal shares so it is usually possible for the surviving account holder(s) to withdraw their share. For the share belonging to the deceased however, the above Spanish inheritance process is usually required.

Costs of inheriting a Spanish bank account

The costs of inheriting a Spanish bank account may include, lawyers fees, notary fees, costs for obtaining NIE numbers (if the beneficiaries/ executors do not already have them), translation costs, apostille fees etc. 

You will also need to consider the best way to transfer the money in the Spanish bank abroad if the beneficiaries live abroad/ wish to receive the money in another currency, to ensure it doesn’t get eroded by the currency exchange.

Depending on the balance of the account, the costs of dealing with the Spanish inheritance process can seem disproportionate. The best way to keep cost to a minimum is to instruct a Spanish lawyer who has experience in dealing with cross-border estates between UK and Spain to advise the executors and beneficiaries as to the best course of action.

If you are dealing with an inheritance where there is a bank account in Spain or any other assets in Spain, Worldwide Lawyers can help. Please feel free to contact us on 01244 470339 or at and our friendly advisors will be happy to assist you and provide a free, no-obligation quote.

Author: Sara Janion, overseas legal expert, solicitor and Notary Public