Ten Questions on Inheritance in Spain   

Warning: The information set out below is a general guideline provided by DOMENECH ABOGADOS. Specific advice should be sought before any action in reliance on it is taken, as explained more fully in this website's legal notice.

1. How can I know if someone who has died granted a Spanish will?

After signature of a will before a Spanish Notary, the General Wills Registry in Madrid must be informed.  Any person can search this Registry to find out if a deceased person made a Spanish will.  The Registry can confirm what Spanish wills were made, on what date and before what authorising Notary. 

2. What is needed to search the General Wills Registry?

The essential document is a death certificate.  Foreign death certificates generally require stamping - known as “apostilling” - in the country of issue and translation into Spanish by approved translators. (For officially approved translations, go to – a Doménech Abogados company.)

3.  What happens if the deceased did not grant a will in Spain or elsewhere

When somebody dies without having any will, they are “intestate”.  If an intestate person leaves assets in Spain, the heir will have to obtain a declaration of heirs:

  • If the heir is the deceased’s spouse, descendant or ascendant, this declaration can be obtained from a Notary (it first having been proved who, under the law of the deceased’s nationality, is entitled to inherit); and 
  • Where the heir is another relative (or not a relative at all), a court order will be needed. 

4. Is the declared heir or the beneficiary of a will immediately entitled to the Spanish assets

No.  The declared heir or beneficiary must enter into a deed of acceptance of inheritance first.  This deed will list and identify the assets inherited and state their value for Spanish inheritance tax purposes.  The relevant taxes paid, this deed is the key to having title to Spanish property changed, Spanish bank accounts unfrozen, etc. 

5. Is Spanish inheritance tax payable by anyone inheriting assets in Spain

Yes.  The tax rate depends on a number of factors, including: the heir’s relationship (if any) to the deceased; whether the heir is resident or not in Spain; the heir’s own wealth prior to the death; and (of course) the property’s value.

6. Is there a deadline for paying Spanish inheritance tax

Yes. Six months from the date of death. 

7. Can this deadline be extended

It can, by up to a further six months. For that, an extension application must be filled before the end of the fifth month following death. 

8.   Are there exemptions or allowances against Spanish inheritance tax

There are some, and these relate mainly to: the habitual residence of a deceased who was a Spanish tax resident; and the transfer of businesses controlled personally by the deceased.

There may be others, depending on particular circumstances (such as family relationships and age).  Doménech Abogados is pleased to give a no-obligation preliminary view, if there’s doubt.

9. If I live outside Spain and inherit assets in Spain, do I need a Spanish tax number (known as a “NIE”)?

Yes. DOMENECH ABOGADOS can either apply for your NIE in Spain, or tell you how to obtain it by applying at the Spanish consulate nearest to where you live.   

10.   When should a foreigner grant a will in Spain?

Generally, it is recommended for foreigners acquiring assets in Spain (eg, a house, apartment, land or shares in a private Spanish company) to make a Spanish will.  Doménech Abogados can write the will for you (in English) and will ensure that it won’t adversely affect any previous will you’ve made in another country.

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