The explanations we provide below apply to the entire territory of Spain, including the Canary Islands. Only the tax aspect will be different, since each autonomous region applies different taxes and charges. We are competent and can help you across the whole territory of Spain to ensure your inheritance runs smoothly, but since we are located in Tenerife ourselves and the majority of our clients also have real estate on the islands, the emphasis of our explanation lies with Tenerife and the Canary Islands.
An inheritance in Tenerife, is not something you can arrange from home. After all, your UK/Irish solicitor or notary can NOT (fully) arrange this for you, for this you can rely on our services. Please contact us for a personal evaluation of your situation. We can assist you for both the Canary Islands and in mainland Spain, as the procedure for an inheritance in Tenerife is the same as for an inheritance in Spain. Only the taxes are different (cheaper) on Tenerife.
The main questions to which we would like to give a general answer here are:
- Is a Spanish will necessary? Or can an inheritance in Tenerife be arranged without a will or with a UK will?
- Which law (country) has jurisdiction to settle the inheritance in Tenerife?
- What is the role of the UK solicitor or notary public and the Spanish Notary in an inheritance in Tenerife?
- Where and how many taxes should be paid?
- How is the procedure going and what will we do for you?
The explanation that follows is based on the fact that the deceased (testator) was English and living in the UK, with a second residence located in Tenerife and English heirs. In human language: man and woman (both English) have a country home in Tenerife, the man dies, and the woman with the 2 children still lives in the UK. (ps: English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish are subject to the same regulations as far as Spain is concerned. So you can safely replace “UK” by “Ireland” and “English” by “Scottish-Welsh-Irish” everywhere)
Is a Spanish will necessary to settle the inheritance in Spain?
The short answer is: no. This is not necessary.
You can perfectly arrange your inheritance in Tenerife without a Spanish will. This is even possible without a UK will. In our example above, that both the testator (deceased) and the heirs (wife and children) all live in the UK, the inheritance will be opened in the UK and handled by the your solicitor (see below). In the first instance, the English solicitor will have to look up and determine who the heirs are, through searches. When it is clear under UK law who the heirs are, we will check this with the Spanish Ministry of Justice to see whether or not a Spanish will was drawn up. More information about a Spanish will can be found on our page: the Spanish Will.
Which law applies? In other words, how does the procedure proceed, through the UK or Spain?
The European law of succession stipulates that the applicable law of succession is the same as that of the domicile of the testator. In our example, the man lives in the UK and so the applicable law is the English law. The testator is English and lives in the UK, although the property is located in Tenerife.
The distinction of which inheritance law applies is very important since the inheritance rules within Europe are very different between countries. We will return to our example: The UK solicitor will be competent for this and thus draw up a certificate of inheritance or provide the last will of the deceased (see below) that will serve as the basis for the settlement here in Spain.
As for the role of the notary public, we must subdivide this, still following our example, into the role of the English solicitor/notary and the Spanish notary.
- The English solicitor/notary public will open the inheritance in the UK. This includes the testator’s worldwide assets. In other words, all his assets (both movable and immovable) in the UK, but also his country residence in Tenerife. Therefore, the English notary draws up a certificate of inheritance or provides the last will in which the division of the property is included. Based on this, we can take further steps in Spain.
- In turn, the Spanish notary will have to draw up an instrument of acceptance of the estate solely for the property in the territory of Spain. In analogy with the UK certificate of inheritance, we will draw up in Spain a notarial deed that identifies the heirs and the value of the property. This will serve as the basis for paying the taxes (see below) and registering in the Property Register the new owners of the estate in Tenerife.
It is very important that the second step, in particular the Spanish notarial deed, also be completed. It would certainly not be the first time that the heirs think that everything is fine since the English solicitor sorted things out and the UK taxes have been paid. However, Spain knows nothing about it and there is thus absolutely nothing arranged here, which will cause the necessary problems with a possible sale of the property, blocked Spanish bank account, etc.
Where, how much and how should taxes be paid? (Our example still applies)
- In the UK: The heirs will have to pay inheritance tax in the UK. This is based on the value of the goods (the more wealth, the more taxes) and the relationship with the testator (spouse, children, brothers and sisters, …) This tax is levied on the worldwide estate of the testator.
- In Spain: The heirs will also have to pay inheritance tax in Spain! In Spain, however, the heirs will have to pay the inheritance tax on the country residence located here. So only on the goods located on the Spanish territory. In addition, of course, all extra costs such as the notary, the (re) registration in the Register of Property, our costs, etc. So do not think that if you have done the procedure in the UK, it is all right for Spain!
Due to our close ties with the Spanish notaries and tax offices, we are able to fully complete your inheritance in Tenerife, or an inheritance in Spain. Smooth and worry-free, that is the guarantee we give you, together with excellent service.
We will therefore spare you as much as possible from the Spanish bureaucracy and immediately contact your solicitor’s/notary office in the UK to obtain the necessary documents from them, so that we in turn can start with the inheritance in Spain.
There are two options for handling the inheritance in Spain:
- The heirs are present in person and accompany us to the Spanish notary to complete all formalities and sign the acceptance of the inheritance.
- The heirs give us a power of attorney, so that we can arrange and look after everything without having to be here. This has the great advantage that you do not have to travel and we keep you fully informed of the status of your inheritance.
Attention, you have 6 months to start with the inheritance procedure in Spain after the death of the testator. In most cases, we will therefore recommend that you give us a power of attorney to handle your inheritance file here in Spain so that it is done as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Which documents will we need from you or will we obtain through your solicitor?
- Copy of the passport of the testator
- The Spanish NIE number of the testator
- International death certificate with an apostille
- Certificate of inheritance / last will with an apostille (we can provide the translation into Spanish)
- Details of all goods located in Spain
- Details of the heirs, so that we can draw up a bilingual power of attorney
Obviously, there is a lot more to settle the inheritance in Spain than these documents. We will arrange the following for your inheritance in Spain:
- Verify that the property is indeed the testator’s property
- Check if there are still debts (mortgages, bank loans, unpaid bills, etc.)
- Check whether city taxes and council taxes were paid
- Calculate the tax value of the property (for tax purposes)
- If desired, have an official estimate report drawn up (market value determination)
- Calculate the municipal capital gains tax to be paid (plusvalía)
- Calculate the total costs of the inheritance
- Request from the Spanish Ministry of Justice whether there is a Spanish will or not
- Fully legally supervise and arrange your inheritance (with or without your presence)
- Obtain NIE’s for the heirs if they are not yet in possession of this
- Register the heirs with the Spanish tax authorities
- Payment of all taxes and levies as a result of the acceptance and execution of the inheritance
- Convert all utilities (water, electricity, …) in the name of the heirs
- Registering the heirs as new owners to the competent authorities
- Direct debit on the bank account of the heirs of all utilities, including the annual council tax (IBI) and the basura (household waste) taxes.
- Monitoring and calculating the annual tax on non-residents that will be due by the heirs
In short, we will be responsible for EVERYTHING that has to do with your inheritance in Spain, even without you being or having to be present. Contact us to discuss your file and ensure that your interests are protected!