If there is not Will and you die intestate, then the assets will be distributed as per intestacy laws.
Following the proposals by the European Commission there is now a new regulation which will come into force in Spain from August 17th. This new regulation is being introduced to simplify the situation regarding inheritance law where more than one European country is involved.
So which law will be applied in Spain? At the moment the law specifies that the law applicable for inheritance is the law of the country of the nationality of the deceased. From August 17th however this will change as from then the law of the country where the deceased was habitually resident would apply.
This means that for a Spanish resident in general the laws of succession of Spain will apply. Since Spain´s laws of succession are also based on the Napoleonic laws, this means that for example in general children are favoured over spouses. Also, there is no freedom of choice regarding who would inherit, the children may have the legal right to inherit 2/3 of the assets.
The new regulation however also allows a person to choose which inheritance law should be applied at the time of death in case multiple jurisdictions are involved. This should be expressly specified in writing beforehand, for example in the Will. Therefore if you want the laws of succession of your home country to be applied, it is imperative that you ensure that this is specifically mentioned in your will.
If a will does not specify this , and you do not want it to be governed by the Spanish Inheritance Law, then we would recommend that you consider making a new will to avoid future problems.
How you want your assets to be distributed is one thing. How they will be taxed is another, and again an issue where many people are confused about.
Expert advice should always be sought. Contact us now for a financial health check and see how these changes affect you. Make sure your assets are structured in the most efficient way and end up in the hands of the beneficiaries of your choice.
Article by Tim Govaerts – Regional Manager Costa del Sol