Your English Will can cover your assets in Spain and vice versa, however, we strongly suggest that the assets that you own in each country are covered by a will drawn up in that country. Why? Because at the end of the day the UK law states that at the time of Probate the assets in other countries are reverted back to the law of the country in which they are located. In laymen’s terms this means that although your Costa Blanca villa is covered by your UK will, you will still have to deal with it under Spanish Probate Law. So at the end of the day, it will actually save you time to have a Spanish will drawn up for your Spanish assets.
The Spanish Law states compulsory heirs, that is to say two thirds of a Spanish citizen’s estate should be bequeathed to a descendant, and in the absence of a descendant, then to an ascendant. The other third you may dispose of freely. If there are no blood relatives, then the state gets the lot!
The good news is that if your are British then the legislation of your country applies, as British Law states that you may dispose freely of all your assets, you can leave them to whoever you like and in the percentage you like, in your Spanish Will.
Please make sure that when your Spanish Will is drawn up that it specifically states that you wish your estate to be adminstered according to the law of your NATIONALITY. As of 2015 anyone that passes without this clause or without a Will will automatically have their estate administered according to Spanish law. If you have an existing Will get it checked out by a legal professional to make sure that this clause has been included in the Will.
We have encountered Notaries that have stated that you are unable to do this, that your will must be drawn up according to Spanish Law. This is not correct. You must insist that they draw up your will to your wishes, or simply take your custom elsewhere.
Usufructo: (Life long interest), this is an interesting option, in particular for unmarried couples. It means that you can leave your partner the life long use of the property and the “nuda propiedad” (bare property) to your children making them the heirs of the property. In this case they will not be able to force your partner to leave or sell the property. It also will make the Inheritance Tax liability much lower.
The will is registered in the Central Wills Registry in Madrid. With a death certificate from anywhere in the world the Registry will send a certificate informing if there is a will in place and in which Notary the will is held.
You cannot modify or codicil a Spanish Will. If you want to change it the previous one is revoked and a brand new one drawn up. This can be done in any Spanish Notary. Revoking a Spanish will in another country is not impossible but complicated, we suggest that it is done in Spain.