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Spanish Inheritance Tax - FAQ's : Part 1

By Mark Roach - Thu 5th Nov 2009

1.) Why Do I have to pay Spanish Inheritance Tax?

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If you own a Spanish property when you die your beneficiaries will need to go through probate and pay the relevant taxes before they officially owntheirportionoftheproperty.

IIn Spain it is the recipient that is taxed and not the Estate which means each beneficiary has to probate individually. To complicate matters further there are different rules for recipients domiciled in Spain who are liable to pay taxes to the local Government. Non-Spanish domiciled recipients pay any taxes due to the National Government. It is to be noted that a Residencia does not necessarily mean that you are deemed to be domiciled in Spain.

2.) Why should I bother?

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This is a question that we are often asked! Many people have a mental blockage when it comes to planning what will happen to their assets when they die. This is understandable as we all think, ‘It won’t happen for ages’ or ‘Why bother as I will be dead anyway’, at times. But the fact of the matter is that we WILL all die one day and if we have not made provision then our beneficiaries can be left with one unholy mess to sort out at a time when they really could do without the added burden of debts relating to inherited assets, especially when the tax relates to the assets owned by ones spouse.

In reality it is very necessary that we do sit down and ensure we have things boxed off so that when we do die our Estate is easier to deal with and that is why Wincham Investments Limited have devised methods to assist Spanish Property owners to structure their assets in such a way that their beneficiaries will inherit their Spanish assets with the minimum of delay, no cost in taxes in Spain and with no necessity to deal with Spanish Wills, Lawyers or Notaries.

3.) But I already have a Will in both Spain and the UK?

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This is definitely a start but neither will protect your property against Spanish Inheritance Tax. The Wincham product allows your beneficiaries to inherit your Spanish property without the need to probate a Will in Spain so if your only asset in Spain is your property then you will not need to have a Spanish Will.

Spanish law does not allow for your partner in marriage to automatically inherit your half of a jointly owned property and in all cases the beneficiary will need to probate the Estate and pay Inheritance Tax on the asset before the asset can legally pass into the new owner’s name(s). To make matters worse any bank account held in the deceased’s name, or jointly, is automatically frozen until the Estate has been probated and all necessary taxes have been paid. The taxes cannot be paid from the deceased’s assets in Spain and it can take between 6 months and 2 years to complete the probate process and the transfer of the deceased’s assets to the beneficiary.

Inheritance tax is calculated using different formulas dependant on the relationship of the person to inherit with the deceased. For instance if you and your partner are not married then the tax will be significantly higher than if you are. Children of the deceased also pay different amounts of tax dependant on their status; unmarried partner’s children from a previous marriage, that have not been legally adopted, pay more tax than children who are the direct descendant of the deceased. As you can see the whole situation is fairly complicated and is made even more problematical as it is not the Estate that is probated but each persons part of the Estate that they are due to inherit. This means each person is individually required to go through probate in order to obtain their share of the property at a cost in the region of 5,000€ for lawyers fees plus the Inheritance Tax that is due to be paid. The end result can be a very costly affair and the property cannot be sold until all beneficiaries have completed the process.

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