Spanish Wills – Considerations for expats

11/09/2008 @ 12:08

A fair number of expats will have already made a Spanish Will. Others may be considering making one. But what do both groups have in common?

All too often, they proceed to make a Spanish Will via a Spanish lawyer, gestor or other ‘professional’ without first ensuring that the professional has at least a basic understanding of the British laws applicable to their Wills and taxes. Naturally, this rules out a large number of Spanish professionals.

Under Spanish law, expats’ probate affairs will generally be treated in accordance with the law of their home country, regardless of how long they have resided in Spain. It is therefore highly advisable to take advice from a professional who understands English Wills or who can provide at least basic advice regarding relevant tax issues.

In many instances, clients are not properly warned that a divorce, marriage or arrival of new children may seriously alter or even cancel an existing Will. The result is that the estate may proceed under the intestacy rules, often resulting in an outcome far from that intended by the testator.

Anyone making a Spanish Will should also consider the effect of any existing or future English Will. Any expat who still holds assets in the U.K. should ensure that they make a Will in both countries. Whilst a Spanish Will usually specifies that it only deals with Spanish property, most English or Welsh Wills will automatically deal with worldwide property unless they specifically exclude it. A conflict between the two Wills may therefore arise.

Alternatively, an English/Welsh Will purporting to revoke all previous testamentary dispositions may inadvertently cancel a pre-existing Spanish Will if the Will-draftsman is not careful.

By choosing an English Solicitor to prepare both their Spanish and English Wills, or to simply review their existing arrangements, clients ensure that their Wills achieve the purpose for which they were intended and at the same time avoid any conflict or other problem that might arise between the respective Wills.

For a no-obligation quotation for the preparation of your English or Spanish Will or for an assessment of your existing arrangements, contact John Hatrick at Tenerife Solicitors on 922 717 845.