Perez Legal Group believes that it’s vital for Spanish law firms, particularly those on the Costa del Sol, to offer expert and up-to-date advice about Spanish and European inheritance laws to their foreign clients. Inheritance is something we all need to consider when buying a property, regardless of our age.

In 2012, the European Union introduced EU regulation 650/2012. This regulation deals with international successions, which relates to inheritance of property or money where the person leaving them has assets in at least two countries, be it within or outside the EU. The law is designed to make international successions easier to resolve and remove the difficulties families face with the complexities of the current laws.

Although the Regulation came into force in 2012, it actually only applies to international successions after 17 August 2015. Currently, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark have chosen not to adopt Regulation 650/2012. However, if you’re from one of those countries and you have a property in Spain, however, you will be affected by the law because Spain has adopted it.

If you’re an overseas property owner in Spain there are some important changes to consider. Under the current Spanish law, (Article 9 of the Civil Code), which only applies until 17 August 2015, as an overseas person with property in Spain your inheritance had to be treated according to the laws of your own country. This benefited people from countries that give its citizens freedom of choice about how to dispose of their property, such as England and Wales. Spain, however, does not give free choice; you must leave the bulk of your estate to your children.

To broaden the options, the new regulation gives you three inheritance law choices when the time comes:

  • Apply the principal law of the state where the deceased primarily lived, even if it isn’t an EU country
  • If, at the time of death, the deceased had closer ties with another country, apply the law of that state
  • Choose the law of the state where you possess nationality

What this means for British citizens is that Spanish inheritance laws will apply, unless you are explicit in your will that you choose the law of another country. British law is the obvious choice, but you may choose another state where you have assets.

Perez Legal Group recommends that all its overseas clients consider this matter before the regulation comes into force here on 17 August 2015. We will be happy to talk you through the regulation and advise you on changes you should make to your will that ensure your protection and peace of mind.