Non-Resident: Why you need to make a Spanish will

Raymundo LarraĆ­n Nesbitt, June, 24. 2017

Lawyer Raymond Nesbitt explains the advantages, general and specific, for non-residents on making a Spanish will.

By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Lawyer – Abogado
24th of June 2017





If you own property in Spain you should make a will covering it. One of the first questions I normally get asked is if a will witnessed in the United Kingdom or in the Republic of Ireland is valid for assets located in Spain. The straight answer is yes, they are perfectly valid in Spain.

However, despite them being legal, it does not make them practical. Far from it, foreign wills are most impractical as they take far too long to get executed in Spain, normally exceeding the timeframe given by the Tax Office (six months) to file and pay Spanish inheritance tax (IHT). Because they take so long, the timeline to file inheritance tax is surpassed which attracts steep surcharges (of up to 20% of the taxable base) plus delay interests and penalties besides all the unnecessary expenses. All this aggravation, wasted money and hassle could have easily been avoided on following my advice and making a Spanish will in Spain exclusive to your Spanish assets.

There are strong reasons on why qualified Spanish experts, such as lawyers, economists and tax advisers advise non-residents to make a second will exclusive to your Spanish assets.

In this blog post, I will be listing briefly the general advantages of making a Spanish will besides the specific advantages of executing a Spanish will as opposed to executing an English or Irish will.


1. General Advantages: Making a Spanish will as a Non-Resident.


  • A Spanish will is exclusive to your assets located in Spain (it does not affect any other assets or wills in your home country).
  • Drawing up a Spanish will may help your heirs mitigate their tax bill (see specific advantages below).
  • Drawing up a Spanish will save your heirs time-consuming and expensive legal issues.
  • Spanish wills are stored safely at no extra charge.
  • Spanish wills drawn up before a Notary public (Open wills) add security.
  • The content of a Spanish will is governed by your own national laws. Bequeath your assets to whomever you please avoiding pesky Spanish forced heirship rules.



2. Specific Advantages: Making a Spanish will Streamlines the Spanish Succession Procedure saving Time, Money and Hassle.


  • Avoids fines for late payment on filing IHT.
  • Avoids surcharges for late payment of IHT.
  • Avoids delay or penalty interests for late payment of IHT.
  • Avoids paying for two sets of legal fees (when only one needs to be paid).
  • Avoids paying for unnecessary expensive sworn translations.
  • Avoids your heirs wasting unnecessary time following redundant legal procedures which could have easily been avoided altogether.
  • Avoids pursuing legalization of foreign documents to make them executable in Spain (i.e. Seal of Hague Convention).
  • Avoids your heirs extra hassle at a time of bereavement.



Ideally, non-residents should make two wills; one in their home country ruling on their national assets and a second Spanish will which will rule exclusively on their Spanish estate.

As explained above, preparing a Spanish will – exclusive to your Spanish assets – will save your heirs considerable time, money and hassle at a time of bereavement. It will greatly streamline the succession procedure in Spain without attracting fines, surcharges and delay interests for late payment of inheritance tax.

If you want to delve further on how inheritance tax works in Spain, I have collated my articles below which cover the succession procedure from different angles.

Our law firm offers making a Spanish will legal service at a very competitive fee. Ask us.

Will writing service: from €195


Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers, small on fees, big on service.

Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers is a law firm specialized in taxation, inheritance, conveyancing, and litigation. We will be very pleased to discuss your matter with you. Please contact us for a free initial consultation. You can contact us by e-mail at, by telephone on (+34) 952 19 22 88 or by completing our contact form.


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Please note the information provided in this blog post is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice. This article may be posted freely in websites or other social media so long as the author is duly credited. Plagiarizing, whether in whole or in part, this article without crediting the author may result in criminal prosecution. VOV.

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