Inheritance Paperwork

.- First af all you will need a Identification number for non-residents N.I.E or a N.I.F ( If you are a Spanish citizen) either to receive as a beneficiary or to do your estate planning

.-For the estate planning:


  • Life Insurance, the Insurance company, whether a Spanish company or a foreign one working in Spain will provide the necessary documents


.-Regarding gifting, if the gift is an immovable asset located in Spain, a public deed before a Spanish notary is mandatory. If there is no deed, there can be no gift.

In any case as the gifted asset is located in Spain or the beneficiary is a resident in Spain, gift tax must be paid.

.-Regarding wills. In international successions a will made in any of these forms will be valid.

.-Probate: One of the things that is usually asked when dealing with the inheritance of a British national is about probate , whether it is necessary or not to inscribe the assets in the Land Registry.

In Spanish law, probate proceedings do not exist.

If a deceased British national who was a resident in Spain, passed away on or after 17th August 2017 and did not make a will indicating a choice of law of his or her nationality to rule their succession, their inheritance will be, under Spanish Authority, to be ruled by the law of their last residence, so there is no need for probate as there is no probate process in Spain

If the British national made a will expressing a choice for British law, that choice does not cover the requirements for the inscription of the immovable assets in the Land Registry which will be governed by Spanish Law.

The last will, a declaration of legal heirs if there is not a will, or an agreement as to succession in those Spanish regions that allow it, are documents commonly made by a notary.

In Spanish law a Notarial Testament is most common but others are also possible, although not really advisable, such as the testament written directly by the testator ( The Testamento Ológrafo). Others are ruled for really extreme circumstances in which it is not feasible to find a notary, such as finding oneself in imminent danger of death and, unfortunately applicable now, the the last will in times of epidemics.

So, regarding foreigners with assets located in Spain, the usual advice to facilitate paperwork was always and still is to make a Spanish will designating beneficiaries for the Spanish immovable assets, and also, if there is more than one beneficiary, a person to execute the testator’s will (contador partidor) who will make the required deed before a notary, to inscribe the assets in the Land Registry.

The Spanish Authority in charge of Notaries and Land Registry stated the above as recently as 2-3 2018 ( Resolución DGRN 2/3/2018).

Despite the above, and taking into account that documents from foreign countries ( all apart from EU member states) that are needed to deal with the inheritance in Spain must be legalised, the normal way to do so is by using the «apostille» ruled in the Hague Convention for those countries which are signatories to it. For more information about the apostille see

Regarding EU member States, there are some special rules aimed at making the provision of documents easier within the EU such as:

.-The EU regulation 2016/1191 that relates to certificates of marriage, birth, death, nationality and other issues related to personal status. This removes the need for any legalisation, and by so doing, the apostille, and even establishes a multilingual form for those certificates, so avoiding the necessity of a translation.

.-The EU regulation 650/2012 on successions which establishes ( art 74) that there is no need of legalisation nor other formalities ( translation may be required) for documents within EU member states.

Regarding Britain, during the transition period, EU regulation is still applicable but Britain, as did Ireland and Denmark, opted out of the application of the EU regulation on successions so the legalisation of the documents related to successions other than the death certificate, such as Last will or payment to HMRC, may be required.

On the UK page of «apostille» website, , among the documents that may be apostilled are probate documents, wills signed by a solicitor or HM Revenue and Customs letters signed by an HMRC officer.

If there is not a Spanish will, the following will be necessary: the legalised last will, the grant of probate if one exists ( The last will and testament is commonly annexed to the grant of probate and this can be classed as one document for the Apostille process), and the confirmation letter signed by an HMRC officer if the beneficiary is a resident in Spain and it is needed in order to deduct any inheritance tax already paid in the UK from Spanish inheritance tax as is explained here.


Any Questions?
Contact us for specific personal advice for your individual case