If you are a Spanish resident then you should read the Spanish Inheritance & Gift Tax section. You should also ensure you have a Last Will & Testament drawn up to distribute your estate in the event of your death.
If you are non-resident, then you should have a Last Will & Testament drawn up to distribute your Spanish assets in the event of your death.
The Spanish Laws on Inheritance state that, on your death, your estate will be shared among the heirs as per the law of the country from which you originate, i.e. German Law for German nationality, British Law for British nationality. Most European nationalities, with the exception of the British, should therefore be warned that, as per their country’s Laws of Inheritance, the children have an automatic right to a part of the Estate on your death, even if they are not expressly mentioned in your Last Will and Testament. If, however, they do not wish to claim their legal share of the Inheritance, the children must, on your death, “renounce” their right in front of a Spanish Notary, and the estate will then be shared among whomever you may have designated in your Last Will and Testament.
British owners should also note that, although Spanish Law states that British Law applies in the event of your death, British Law then throws the ball back and states that it is the Law in the country where the asset is situated, i.e. Spain, which determines the legal heirs. Spanish Notaries, however, generally practice the application of British Laws of Inheritance in such matters.
To avoid any misunderstandings and to hasten the legal procedure after death it is, therefore, advisable for most people to prepare a Spanish Will and Testament relating to their property and assets here in Spain. This can easily be prepared for you by your Fiscal Representative (Gestor) or lawyer, who will then make an appointment at the Notary Office for you. Separate Testaments must be prepared (Spain does not accept joint Wills) and the approximate costs for the Notary are 70 Euros per Testament.
Spanish Inheritance & Gift Tax
Spanish inheritance tax (or gift tax) is payable if:
The inheritor (i.e. the recipient of a gift or the heir of an estate) is resident in Spain, or
The asset being gifted, or passed on death, is property in Spain
To put it another way, Spanish inheritance tax is not payable if assets are outside Spain and the recipient is also not resident in Spain.
Husband and Wife and Spanish Inheritance Tax
There is no exemption to Spanish inheritance tax between a husband and wife where they are both resident in Spain. Where they are both resident in Spain and, for example, the husband dies, then the estate left to his wife is fully liable on the worldwide assets of the husband.
If the couple are living together unmarried, the tax due is even more. Anything over €15,956.87 is liable to Spanish inheritance tax on the death of their spouse or partner, assuming all assets pass to the spouse.
Gift or Inheritance Tax Rates 2002
Tax Payableat top of band
Gift & Inheritance Tax Multiplier
Euro (Net Worth of Donee)
Group 1: children, adopted children, grandchildren, spouses, parents, grandparents
Group 2: cousins, nieces, nephews, more distant relatives & descendants & ascendants