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Spanish Wills will not protect you from Spanish IHT

By Malcolm Roach M.I.C.M - Wed 8th Feb 2012

Non-residents purchasing properties in Spain are often urged to set up a Spanish Will in the belief this will shield them from Spanish IHT.

This is unfortunately untrue and a Spanish Will can often complicate matters as it may conflict with an earlier Will prepared in the UK. A Spanish Will cannot be varied after death and therefore limits the options of the beneficiaries. If there is only a UK Will then with agreement of the beneficiaries the Will can be varied to accommodate the inheritor’s wishes. The only requirement of the Spanish authorities is to be presented with a death certificate and Grant of Probabte from the UK, translated, notorised and apostiled.

A Spanish Will is registered in a central location in Madrid and once it has been registered you cannot proceed to change it without going through the process of cancelling the old one through the Notary that dealt with your original Will. This can be time consuming and very costly.

In the UK if you wish to change your Will you simply write a new one stating that the old one is revoked.

In order to obtain a Spanish Probate you will require an Abogado (Spanish lawyer) and beneficiaries will be liable to pay any inheritance tax personally. Unlike the UK the inheritance tax is paid by the individual beneficiary based upon their circumstances not by the Estate. Inheritance tax laws in Spain provide that immovable assets such as property cannot be realised in order to pay the inheritance taxes due.

If you are married or you have a joint account in Spain then it means that your Spouse or joint account holder will be unable to access funds in that account until probate has been completed in Spain. This often leaves them in the position of being unable to make funeral arrangements or return to the UK as they do not have access to their funds.

To deal with the sale of the property or to arrange for the transfer into their own names each beneficiary will need to attend Spain personally to obtain an NIE number and deal with Notaries and Spanish authorities often in a country that they are not familiar with.

We can assist with every step and guide you through the whole process with the assistance of our multi-lingual staff based in our Spanish office.

The Wincham Executor & Trustee Company Ltd provides a professional Will writing service for new and existing clients. Our legal department has all the expertise you need to prepare a Will that is suitable and fit for the purpose. We also offer an Executor service to help with Probate and the form filling and bureaucracy involved when an individual passes away. You and your family can continue to enjoy the future in the knowledge that all your affairs are completely taken care of. You can buy cheaper on the web, but we do not recommend these. Estates are too important to have everything reduced to a simple and standard common denominator, and a Will intended as a catchall may not catch anything if individual circumstances are not established and properly catered for in the Will. A Will is an important document and can affect people’s lives. Wincham Executor & Trustee Company Limited provide a bespoke Will service which supplies a considered and appropriate tailor made Will prepared at an affordable price. You may think you know what you need in a Will, but the help and advice offered by Wincham quite often leads to clients re-appraising their Wills. The most important part of the process is the estate planning as work may need to be undertaken now to provide the best outcome later and you cannot always rely on the contents of the Will.

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