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An important decision – making your will

The need to make a will is obvious to most people. The decision to get up and do it is often harder to achieve. When you make that decision to make a will in Spain, make sure you have done your research. Inheritance tax is a much bigger issue here than in the UK and your relationship to inheritors and whether they are resident or non-resident makes a big difference.


Wills in SpainIn Spain there are four levels at which ISD (inheritance tax) is paid:

Level 1 = Children and grandchildren (including adopted) under the age of 21

Level 2 = Children and grandchildren over the age of 21, spouses and parents

Level 3 = Other relatives such as brothers and sisters, in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles

Level 4 = Everyone else including unmarried partners

If you are not married, your partner is relegated to the ‘any other person’ level of inheritance tax. Being Spain, it does vary for residents between autonomous regions. So, for example this rule applies in Valencia but not in Murcia. It is certainly worth establishing what rules apply to you as it affects both the level of allowance you can have as well as the percent of the property value you must pay tax on.

There’s another reason why you should give very careful consideration to your will-making in Spain. If you should change your mind it’s not so easy to amend the paper work. In fact, once your will is made and legalised by the notary you cannot change it at all. Instead, you have to make a new one.

Why? Every will has to be signed at the notary in Spain and the notary must register it in Madrid. This means that there can be no dispute about which is the last will and testament. Generally this is an advantage of the Spanish system. When someone dies, a quick check with Madrid and the whereabouts of the last will and testament can be confirmed. One example at least where bureaucracy does seem to work well here.

Unfortunately it does mean that you can’t just alter your wishes on a whim. Our recommendation is that when making your will you are cautious about specifying in too much detail or referring to individual properties and possessions. After all you might move house, sell your car or even the family silver. Much better to keep it general so that you don’t incur the extra expense of having to make a new one.

For more information please visit our inheritance website:

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Ábaco Asesores

Ábaco Asesores is a firm of lawyers and tax advisers established on the Costa Blanca in 1999. We have clients all over the world and provide legal and tax advice in seven different languages.

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