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Life Events in Spain

Write a Will
10.Sep.08 - 12:30pm

A will is a legal document that describes how you want your propertiy and belongings to be disposed of when you die: it tells the world "who gets what." Everyone should have a will.

Requirements for a valid will

In Spain there are formal requirement for preparing and signing a will :

  • You, as the "testator/testatrix", must be of legal age, usually 18
  • You have to be mentally competent, which means that you understand that you´re making a will, you know what property you have, and you know your heirs and relatives who normally would be included in your will
  • You must clearly state that is in fact your will
  • You must sign the will, before the Notary if you make this type of will.

What should my will include?

Your will should specify and state:

  • That you are mentally competent as you are reading and signing the will.
  • The names of your immediate family, including your spouse and all children, including adopted children
  • The name of a guardian and alternate guardian for any minor children
  • A list of who should inherit specific items of peroperty
  • What happens to any property not specifically mentioned by you in the will
  • The name of your "executor" or "administrator" , that is, the person responsible for carrying out the directions you leave in your wil, such as distributing the property and paying any debts and taxes owed by you after you die.

When should I update my will?

There are numerous reasons for you to update your will, but some of the most common are when:

  • You marry or divorce
  • You give birth to or adopt a child
  • When a family member or other beneficiary of your estate dies

Revising a Will

You can change your will by:

  • Making minor changes in what´s called a "codicil", which is a formal amendment to the will
  • Preparing an entirely new will revoking the prior will

Who should draft my will?

Only an attorney can legally draft a will for a person, unless a person draft his own will. Personally drafted wills are often incomplete, and therefore invalid under the Spanish Law. An invalid willis worthless. Kits for writing a will are normally not specific. If your will fails to follow Spanish Law, it will be invalid.

How can I stop fights over what I leave?

The people you leave your property to can not be stopped from challenging your will in court. However, you candiscourage potential contestants from challenging your will by placing a no-contest clause in your will. Other options to mimimize fights after you´re gone include making an agreement with your beneficiary or using a living trust.


Intestancy - What happens if no Will has been made
17.Apr.12 - 6:00pm

Intestacy is the situation that arises when someone dies without having made a Will. When someone dies in this situation, their property (the estate) must be shared out according th certain rules. These are called the rules of intestancy. A person who dies without leaving a Will is called an intestate person. The Rules of Intestancy will determine the beneficiaries of the estate. In Spanish Law are regulated on the Civil Code.
Article 912
The legal succession takes place:
1. If a person dies without a testament, with a void testament, or with one which may have lost its validity.
2. When the testament does not contain an institution of an heir for all or part of the assets, or does not dispose of all that belongs to the testator. In such a case, the legal succession shall take place only with regads to the assets of which the testator has not disposed.
3. When the condittion imposed for the institution of an heir is laking, or if the heir dies before the testator, or repudiates the inheritance without having a substitute and there is no right of accretion.
4. When the heir instituted is incapable of inheriting.


Article 913
In default of testamentary heirs, the law provides that the inheritance goes to the relatives of the decedent, to the widower or widow, or to the State.

Article 914
The provisions relating to incapacity to succeed by testament are also applicable to intestate successions.


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Wills & Probate: FAQ

What is a personal representative?

The person who represents the estate is called executor/executrix. A person appointed by a court to represent the estate of a person who doesn,t have a will is called a personal representative, or administrator.

What happens if you die without a will?

The Spanish State law has a default will for any person who dies without a will. Commonly, the spouse and children of the decedent will take the property, then siblings, granparents, and children of the grandparents. If no close relation can be found, the property will eventually belongs to the state.

What are the executor or personal representative´s duties and obligations?

The representative is charged with following state law in wrapping-up the decedent´s affairs. This includes:

Givin the proper notices to the proper parties

Collecting all the decedent´s property

Receiving claims against the estate

Paying just claims and disputing others

Distributing the estate property according to the will or state law

Along the way there may be other necessary actions, like selling estate property to cover debts or allow for proper distribution

How can a person contest a will?

A person contest a will by filing the relevant documents with the probate court. The person normally must be "interested" that is, must be an heir under the will or at law. You must have grounds to have a chance of successfully contesting a will. Unhappiness with the proposed distribution of property is not a valid ground. Incapacity, fraud, undue influence and duress are the most common grounds.