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Anyone know anything about Spanish probate law?

33 replies

jampots · 23/02/2005 18:34

MIL just rung up to ask dh what is in our Wills as she wants to update hers. She maintains that the contents of our Will directly affects her Will under Spanish law. I personally think she's talking bollox

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jampots · 23/02/2005 19:43

anyone??? Senorapostrophe maybe??? Chandra????

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whymummy · 23/02/2005 19:59

i've never heard of it, shouldn't wills be a private thing?it sounds like "what did you get me for my birthday so i know what to get you for yours" it's not something you would ask,i don't know since i've been away from spain for so long but i could ask family or friends if you like

SenoraPostrophe · 23/02/2005 20:17

Spanish law is a bit weird. Spaniards don´t have the right of "free distribution of assets" which means that if you die, something like 50% of your estate goes to your spouse and 50% to your children (or something like that) whatever your will says. As a foreigner, your MIL can have a getout clause to the effect that she is british (I assume) and therefore can leave stuff to whom she likes.

I've never heard of one will affecting another, but it could be that if she is leaving Spanish property to you, she needs to have a note about who you will be leaving it to. Don't know though - does sound a bit odd.

SenoraPostrophe · 23/02/2005 20:33

Just looked it up.

This dodgy translation of an article by a lawyer explains the basics and this frighteningly ameteur looking site gives more info.

The 2nd site (which has lots of real info: has probably been copied out of a book) has a bit that says that Spanish laws require that the spouse gets 50% of assets aquired during the marriage, plus all inheristances & gifts that have come directly to the spouse. The only thing i can think of is that your MIL has received dodgy advice, and thinks she has to make a note of all possible direct inheritances in her will.

Either that or she's being nosey.

Chandra · 23/02/2005 20:43

I'm not sure but I believe that the only way it could be affected would be if she has a will here and dies in Spain, if that happens the English will is not valid over there, she would be classed as not having a will at all and then the goods would be distributed over the immediate family as it is stipulated by law.

Another aspect is about the inheritance taxes, if she dies and you inherit her property you will be liable to pay taxes on that "gift", but please don't trust me on this because I'm not completely sure. But about how does her will is affected by yours??? no idea!!! Never heard of something like that. I'm afraid Whymummy could be right so, what about telling her that she is the main heir to your assets?

Chandra · 23/02/2005 20:47

Senora Apostrophe, they can leave the money to whomever they wish as long as there's a will registered. My MIL complains all the time about a distant relative who got all the money because she was the one taking care of the old person in question, so... it's possible.

SenoraPostrophe · 23/02/2005 20:50

Chandra - no, UK wills are valid, but you have to go to a UK court to sort it out.

Have heard the statutary inheritors thing from a lot of people, including a Spanish lawyer, but now I've read the site below I remember that it's only 2/3 of your estate that is affected. Doesn't apply if you have no surving children or spouse though.

jampots · 23/02/2005 21:09

Thanks ladies - what a minefield!

For the record they are both foreigners but Im pretty sure FIL has spanish residency. They own a house and have some assets in Spain so have already made a Spanish will. They have an English will here too presumably to cover their English assets.

Having probed dh further it appears she asked him how his Will was written - has he left everything to me or the children (!) I suspect that if he has left everything we own to me then he wont be getting their money. A more subtle way of saying "if she's in, you're out".

She also wanted to know what will be happening to our estate if we all pegged it together.

I am very upset about this attitude and also her complete disregard for me as her ds's wife.

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whymummy · 23/02/2005 21:13

oh jampots not very nice for you and i thought my MIL was horrid,i wouldn't tell her a thing,what does your dh think?

Chandra · 23/02/2005 21:20

Oh Jampots, sorry you have such a MIL, welcome to the club.

jampots · 23/02/2005 21:21

dh thinks his mum asked the question because it is relevant in Spanish law !! When I pointed out that we could change our will every week and not tell them i think it sunk in a little. He thinks its amusing that I am upset about it and joked that im only upset because its money.

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jampots · 23/02/2005 21:22

so, next question having read SA's article. If there is an "open" will is it registered somewhere public and if so, where can I get a copy

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whymummy · 23/02/2005 21:23

he's joking right? i would feel extremely rejected in your shoes,nothing to do with the money

whymummy · 23/02/2005 21:25

never mind about spanish law,nobody follows it

jampots · 23/02/2005 21:25

no i dont think he is joking (although it was said in a jokey fashion) - just another of those things to drive a wedge between dh and i.

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jampots · 23/02/2005 21:27

Also by the looks of it dh (as an only child) will inherit 1/3 of one half to do with as he wishes, another third with the remaining parent's control over til they peg it, and potentially another third. I'll just have to make sure I take control over the first third pretty quickly

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whymummy · 23/02/2005 21:27

don't let her get between you two,she'll be laughing if she knew how upset you were,don't let her!!

whymummy · 23/02/2005 21:29

just tell her that a spanish lawyer called whymummy has told you that under spanish law everthing goes to the daughter in law

jampots · 23/02/2005 21:29

Im feeling very positive atm so you're right I wont let this upset me. I dont need them or their money - i have their son

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smokey · 23/02/2005 21:37

My FIL who was resident in Spain left a Spanish will leaving his house to someone outside the family. His wife and children contested the will on the grounds that he was obliged to leave a proportion to them under Spanish inheritance law. The Spanish Courts decided the rule did not apply to him because he had British, not Spanish, nationality. The important issue was the nationality of the deceased. This was about 5 years ago now, so the law may have changed since.

Chandra · 23/02/2005 21:47

HAve checked a Spanish legal site ( and the case mentioned by Senora APostrophe occurs when the persons dies without a will (intestado), so if she registers a will in Spin then the assets will be distributed according to her wishes.

The problem of the Spanish will is that she dies she is under the jurisprudence of the country in which she dies (Spain in this case) and therefore the English will is not valid unless a tramit is made to make this foreign document "recognisable" by the Sapnish authorities. Another possibility is to have two wills, one covering English assets and another one the Spanish ones. Have you checked the British Consulate in Spain site? They should have more info about apostilles and legalisation of foreign documents.

In the first site I checked I found two interesting things: one that you have aright to contest any will and second, a husband can take her wife out of the will for failing to comply with her "deberes conyugale" (sex ). Dear gawd! DH must never, NEVER know of this )

BTW it's not I'm overly interested in wills it's just that my father is a lawyer and while my sister was studing law, we used to have the jurisprudence discused over lunch }

Chandra · 23/02/2005 21:48

Ooops! I took so much time in finding the info that I have crossposted

Chandra · 23/02/2005 21:51

studying Imeant... I'm not sure anymore !!!

jampots · 23/02/2005 21:52

Wow Chandra - thats some info youve picked up over dinner

about the sex clause.

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whymummy · 23/02/2005 21:56

oh my goodness i'm gonna be left pennyless,excuse me i might be off line for a while ;)

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