by Chris Chaplow
You should make a Spanish will to dispose of your Spanish assets to avoid time consuming legal problems for your heirs.
To make a Spanish version of your will, one can consult a Spanish lawyer or other specialised professional. He or she can advise you regarding this country's strict rules applying to inheritance.
Spaniards are subjected to laws governing compulsory heirs. They have to leave one third to be divided equally among their children, another third is to be left to their children in any division, the last third can be divided as seen fit.
A Notary however is willing (Article 9 of Spanish Civil Code) to register a foreigner's will in accordance with the law of his nationality. However some national laws, England for example, state clearly that foreign (Spanish) assets should be disposed under the law of where the assets are located. In practice this is not a problem and foreign residents can dispose of their assets as they see fit. If you believe your Will might be challenged by your children seek further legal advise and consider transferring the titles before your death.
The process of making a will involves consulting a lawyer or Gestor or speaking diectly with the notary's office. They usually give you a questionairre to complete and then write up the draft document for you to check before signing with the notary. It is then registered in a central 'Will registry' in Madrid. This entire process costs well under 200 euros in the case of a simple, straight forward estate.
Some notaries, expecially on the Costa del Sol, are open to have the Will bi-lingual, that is for it to be a two column document in both Spanish and English (or other language). This saves the expense of having to have the Will translated by an official translator.
If you have assets in more than one country, consider having wills in each country to avoid complicated translations, certifications and procedures for your family after your death.
You can also make a secret will and have it's envelope sealed and notarised. These also can be registered in Madrid.
Should someone in your family die without, to your knowledge, leaving a will, you can check with the "Registro Central de Última Voluntad" - or Will registry - in Madrid to see if there is a registration number which could lead you to the notary office where it would be on file.
Handwritten wills are not advisable as they must be certified as authentic before they can be executed