Inheritance Law in Spain

Inheritance Law in Spain

Updated on Monday 13th April 2020

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Spanish inheritance law does not allow you to leave your assets to just anyone, there is a limit to it. This is done in order to make sure that the children (as they come first in Spanish law) will receive a bigger part of the assets than the spouse. For further information about inheritance, feel free to ask our Spanish lawyers.

Steps for Inheritance in Spain


There are a few steps that can be followed if you want the whole process of inheritance to be completed as soon as possible and our law firm in Spain can guide you through it.
  1. You first need to acquire the original death certificate. This is recommended to be done within the first twenty-four hours after the person's death.
  2. Then you can apply for the certificate of last wills and life insurance. In case there is no will, you can apply for probate in order to determine the rightful inheritors. 
  3. You should also find out details about all assets of the deceased as it is better to include bank accounts, real property, vehicles etc. This is to make sure that the titles are changed for all assets to the legitimate inheritors. A Foreigners Identification Number (NIE) is required for inheritance as well as it is needed for signing the certificate of inheritance. 
  4. Then the liquidation of inheritance taxes needs to be done, as well as changing the title of all assets of the deceased to the legitimate heirs.
For all these procedures, you can receive guidance from our lawyers in Spain, who will take care of every detail so as to complete them in the shortest time possible.

Spanish Inheritance Taxes


The Spanish succession tax or "Impuesto sobre Sucesiones Y Donaciones" is the tax applied on gifts and inheritance, being paid by the receiver and it is only due when he/she is resident in Spain or when the asset is located in the country (real estates etc).
Rules and rates for Spanish inheritance taxes vary depending on the relationship between the beneficiary and the donor; however, step-children and unmarried couples commonly pay more than natural children and spouses. In some regions of Spain, there is almost no tax applied for children and spouses, in places like Madrid and Comunidad Valenciana. Last, the allowances, as well as the tax rates, vary according to the group the recipient falls into (natural and adopted children under 21 etc).

The Spanish legislation on the division of the inheritance

The Spanish Inheritance Law was designed to protect the family and limits a testator’s freedom when it comes to the division of assets. The law provides for the so-called “enforced heirs” who have the legal right to inherit two-thirds of the estate. The division of inherited assets under the Spanish legislation will be done as it follows:
  • one-third of the estate will be divided in equal shares between the children and the spouse, the so-called compulsory heirs,
  • one-third of the estate will be divided among the other compulsory heirs chosen by the testator,
  • one-third of the estate will be divided among those stipulated in the deceased’s will.
For assistance in matters related to the divisions of assets in case of inheritance, you may refer to our law firm in Spain.

Accepting an inheritance in Spain

The inheritance legislation also applies to foreign citizens living in Spain or accepting an inheritance from Spanish citizens. There are several steps one must follow in order to gain possession of the inherited assets. The first step is signing a Title Deed of Acceptance. The inheritor must know that the Spanish legislation provides for an inheritance tax. The second step will be determining the inheritance tax to be paid. In case of real estate inheritance, the last step will be registering the property with the Spanish Land Registry.
Inheritance law can be complicated at times, so it is advisable to seek qualified advice. In succession tax and inheritance law matters, you can contact our attorneys in Spain, as they will ensure the most appropriate arrangements for you.