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Changing your will

Published 15/03/2012

Changing your will

You cannot easily change your will in Spain. Each will is registered in Madrid and any new instructions require a new will to be made. This does have advantages, as there should be no confusion about when the last will was made or who has it.

When you do make that decision to make a will in Spain, make sure you have done your research. Inheritance tax is a much bigger issue here than in the UK and your relationship to inheritors and whether property is located makes a big difference.

In Spain there are four levels at which ISD (inheritance tax) is paid:

Level 1 = children and grandchildren (including adopted) under the age of 21

Level 2 = children and grandchildren over the age of 21, spouses and parent

Level 3 = other relatives such as brothers and sisters, in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles

Level 4 = everyone else including unmarried partners

If you are not married, your partner belongs to the ‘any other person’ level of inheritance tax. Being Spain, it does vary for residents between autonomous regions. It is certainly worth establishing what rules apply to you as it affects both the level of allowance you can have as well as the % of the property value you must pay tax on.

There’s another reason why you should give very careful consideration to your will-making in Spain.  If you should change your mind it’s not so easy to amend the paper work. Once your will is made and legalised by the notary you cannot change it at all. Instead, you have to make a new one.

The reason for this, is that every will has to be signed at the notary in Spain and the notary must register it in Madrid. This means that there can be no dispute about which is the last will and testament. Generally this is an advantage of the Spanish system. When someone dies, a quick check with Madrid and the whereabouts of the last will and testament can be confirmed.

Unfortunately it does mean that you can’t change your will as easily as you can change your mind.  Our recommendation is that when making your will you are cautious about specifying in too much detail or referring to individual properties and possessions. You may well  move house and sell your property and having to change your will becomes an added complication. It is much better to keep your wishes more general in the first place so that you don’t incur the extra expense of having to make a new one.

Caroline Clinton

Caroline Clinton
Customer Care Department

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