New EU Succession Law and Spain

28.07.14

Please note that this article is over six months old. While Blevins Franks takes care to make sure that information is accurate on the date of publication, some content may change over time. You should not rely on the accuracy of legislation and tax information in this article; take professional advice for your circumstances.

The EU is introducing a new succession regulation to address the diversity of laws applying to succession issues. Your will needs to ensure that restrictive Spanish succession law does not apply to your estate.

The EU is introducing a new succession regulation to address the diversity of laws applying to succession issues, and simplify the procedures related to cross-border inheritance.

Regulation 650/2012, known as Brussels IV, applies to testate and intestate successions from 17th August 2015. Although the UK, Ireland and Denmark opted out, it still applies to UK nationals resident in Spain.

The general rule is that the law applicable to the succession is that of the state where the individual had his habitual residence at the time of death. Spanish inheritance law requires a parent to leave two-thirds of their estate to their children, by-passing the surviving spouse.

However, the regulation also provides that an individual may elect, by way of a statement in his will, for the laws of his country of nationality to apply instead. British nationals can therefore elect for UK succession law to apply, where you are generally free to distribute your estate as you wish (Scotland and Northern Ireland law does have some restrictions).

You must make this choice before death, otherwise restrictive Spanish law will apply. So it is important to review your wills to see if they need amending.

This law does not apply to succession taxes though, so your assets remain subject to Spanish succession tax. You still need careful estate planning to avoid or mitigate inheritance taxes in Spain and UK.

Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.

Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; individuals should seek personalised advice.

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