Living in Spain

Guide to : Making a Spanish Will

None of us like to think of death or of making a will, however, if you own a property or any assets in Spain, then making a Spanish will is very important to protect your assets for your family.

Under Spanish inheritance laws, a surviving spouse will retain all of the assets attained prior to marriage, half of the assets attained during marriage and all personal gifts or inherited assets given directly to the spouse.

According to the inheritance law of obligatory Spouses (Ley de Herederos Forzosos), if there are any surviving children to the deceased, the remaining assets are divided into three equal parts:

One third must be left, in equal parts, to the surviving children.
One third must be divided, as decided by the testator, between the surviving children. If there is a surviving spouse, whatever is given in this third cannot be relinquished until the surviving spouse passes away.
One third may be divided however the testator decides.
Types of Spanish Wills:
1. Open Will (Testamento Abierto): The most common type of Spanish will chosen by expats is an Open will. It is prepared by a notary who is responsible for ensuring the contents are legal and correctly drawn up. The will is then signed by the notary and three witnesses. A lawyer is normally not necessary for this type of will.

2. Closed Will (Testamento Cerrado): The contents of this type of Spanish will are sealed and kept secret. A Closed will must be drawn up by a Spanish lawyer to ensure that it complies with Spanish law. The will is then sealed and signed by the notary and two witnesses.

3. Holographic Will (Testamento Olografo): This type of Spanish will can be handwritten by the testator or made orally. The wishes stated must be very clear and the will can be registered with the Registro Central de Ultima Voluntad in Madrid. An oral will must be witnessed by 5 witnesses, who must testify to a notary the wishes stated by the testator. On the death of the testator, the Holographic will must be authenticated before a judge, which can result in long delays before its execution.

It is advisable to have your Spanish will in two languages if you or your family do not fully understand Spanish. The translation should be fully checked to ensure there are no misunderstandings that could be costly or cause long delays in the execution of the will.

You can also state in your Spanish will if you would like to dispose of your assets according to the inheritance laws of your home country. If you do not state this in the will, any dispute will be resolved under Spanish inheritance laws.

We help expats living on the Costa del Sol with interpreters, administration, taxes and advice in their own language. To discuss your requirements or if you have any questions about making a Spanish Will, please contact us.

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