Spanish inheritance tax for non residents: inheritance law for Spanish wills


Death is a difficult bereavement which all of us need to go through and affect us all, but inheritance legal formalities have to be sorted out when a decease. It is highly recommended that, if you have a property in Spain, you leave things the most easiest as possible for your future inheritors to save them money, time and distress in the inheritance procedure.

This article will summarize the main points of the structure of the inheritance tax in Spain and inheritance deeds.

Besides a national legal framework, each Autonomous Community in Spain have some own laws and tax allowances, with differ from one region to other. There’s a trend to suppress Spanish Inheritance Tax and some regions have big reductions on Spanish inheritance tax which means almost suppresses it. Other Spanish regions do not have that big tax reductions. Residents and non residents in Spain are liable to pay the Spanish Inheritance Tax when inherit assets in Spain.

Related: Spanish non resident tax / Spanish capital tax gains.

Where is the Spanish Inheritance Tax filed?

  • If the deceased and beneficiaries are Spanish non residents the inheritance tax has to be filed in Madrid.
  • If the deceased and beneficiary are a Spanish tax resident, the inheritance tax can be filed at the Local Tax office of the region.

When is the deadline to file and pay the Spanish Inheritance Tax?

The deadline to file and pay Spanish Inheritance Tax is six months from the day of decease. This period can be extended in six months more, if it is requested in the first five months from the death of the deceased. Also, the inheritance tax can be paid in installments.

What happens if I pay the Inheritance tax after the deadline?

You can incurr in surcharges (from 5% to 20%), fines and delay interests.

If the deceased signed a Spanish Will, is it reduced the Spanish Inheritance Tax for the inheritors?

It doesn’t reduce the inheritance tax to pay but making a Spanish Will is strongly recommended because it makes easier the inheritance procedure in Spain as avoid extra hassles, money in more sworn translations and legalizations of documents and time. So, if you are going to inherit a property in Spain, we recommend that you also sign a Spanish Will for your assets in Spain. Your beneficaries will thank you.

Spanish Inheritance Tax Rates.

The rules and rates for Spanish inheritance tax vary according to the relationship (there are four categories, mentioned below) between the deceased and beneficiary and region of Spain.

If you want to know more about it with relation to your specific case, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be pleased to inform you about your specific inheritance tax rate and possible allowances.

Inheritance tax categories.

Inheritors are grouped into four categories for inheritance tax purposes according on the relationship with the deceased.

Group I: Children under 21.
Group II: 
Children over 21, spouse, parents and grandparents.
Group III: 
Brothers/sisters, nephews/nieces, aunts and uncles. Collaterals of second and third degree, ascendants and descendants by affinity.
Group IV: 
Collaterals of the fourth degree and more distant degrees.

Are assets frozen until the inheritance is registered?

 Yes, Spanish assets will be frozen at the time of the death until the inheritance deeds are registered.

After the inheritance deeds (where all assets from the deceased are included) are registered, the inheritor will be able to sell the property or have access to the deceased bank accounts, for example.

When inheriting assets in Spain, it also inherits the debts that the deceased had in Spain. If the debts are bigger than the assets and rights, the inheritor can renounce to inherit anything as heir, as he/she would be making a loss on accepting the inheritance.

According if there is a Spanish Will signed or not by the deceased, there are three different ways to organize the inheritance:

1.- The deceased signed a Spanish Will: this is the best way to organize the inheritance for the inheritors, as it saves money, time and distress.

The inheritors, must provide to their lawyer the original death certificate (if the testator deceased outside Spain, it will need to be apostilled with the Apostille of the Hague Accords and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator). After it, the lawyer appointed by the inheritors will obtain the certificate of Last Will, and request a notarised copy of the testator’s Spanish Will.

With the previous documents, it will be prepared the Deed of Inheritance Acceptance at the Notary in Spain.

After it, you have 30 days to file and pay the inheritance tax (form 650) and present the inheritance deeds and taxes filed and paid at the Land Registry Office where there is the property inherited to register it into your name.

2.- The deceased just signed a Will in his /her country: this scenario makes the inheritors spend more time, money and distress because there is not Will signed in Spain.

The inheritors will need to obtain the Grant of Probate, apostilled it and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator. If this takes long time to obtain it and the inheritors pay the inheritance tax after the deadline, they will incurr in penalties and and fines for late payment. These costs are much higher than if the testator would have signed a Spanish Will.

Once obtained the Probate (which substitutes the Spanish Will), the way to do the inheritance deeds is similar than the option 1.

3.- Deceased dies without Will. In this case, the inheritors need to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration, apostilled and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator.

In this case the inheritors will need some extra documents after it to complete the inheritance procedure, as family book (apostilled and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator), etc.

Inheritance procedure is a complex matter and each case must to be studied in detail by a qualified lawyer. If you own a property in Spain or are going to inherit it, and want more information about the inheritance procedure according to your specific case, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can contact us by email at, by telephone at (0034) 9665717175 or via the online form. We will be pleased to help you.

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José Pineda Cuenca

Founder & Chief Executive Officer. Oremfi by Aserpro.
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