Inheritance law tax in Spain | Escoem

Inheritance law in Spain

The treatment of inheritance is a highly controversial issue that many families postpone to avoid possible conflicts between their members, which means in practice that on many occasions the issue is not dealt properly. Inheritance tax in Spain applies to everyone, residents and non-residents alike, whereby, knowing Spanish inheritance law is essential for the testator when making a distribution of assets respecting his will, since there are certain limits, which depend on the circumstances that can provide more advantageous alternatives from a tax perspective..

The legal framework in Spain is very broad. Spanish inheritance law derives from the the so-called Common Law reflected in the country´s Civil Code. However, some Autonomous Communities such as Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Aragón, the Basque Country, Navarra and Galicia have their own succession rules. This means that similar estates in different parts of the country can be treated very differently when it comes to laws concerning inheritance tax. In addition, the fiscal decentralization of the state has led to the transfer to the autonomous communities of some taxes, such as the Inheritance and Gifts Tax, holding regulatory powers in relation to said taxes.


  • Estate planning
  • Will
  • Heirs declaration
  • Shares or divisions of inheritances
  • Acceptance or rejection
  • Inheritance and gift tax

Tax and Estate Planning

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Estate and inheritance planning revolves around correct legal-fiscal management, aimed at its conservation and future effective transmission, essential aspects for your peace of mind and of your heirs.

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Inheritance and gift tax

Inheritances, wills and donations contain a series of issues that must be previously resolved for their correct processing and execution, thus avoiding serious future damages such as other taxes and expenses, which in many cases cause the transmission to be much more burdensome, such as the capital gains, notarial and registry expenses, etc.

El Inheritance and gift tax, of a direct and subjective nature, levies the capital gains obtained for profit by natural persons, in the terms provided in the Law. It is a tax payable throughout the Spanish territory, but which is currently assigned to the autonomous communities, being the object of the tax to levies the acquisition of goods and rights by inheritance, legacy, donation or any other free and inter vivos legal business.

There is a period of six months from the date of death, to carry out the inheritance procedures and pay the corresponding taxes, avoiding surcharges for delay in the processing. Nevertheless, it is possible to claim a one-time extension of an additional six months or pay in installments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Succession and heirship rules

Spanish inheritance law specifies how you may dispose of your estate in Spain. There are several rules, called forced heirship rules, that establish restrictions on how you distribute your estate.

The nationwide Law of Obligatory Heirs states that if the deceased was married, the spouse keeps 50% of all jointly-owned property and the rest goes towards the estate, which is divided into three portions:

One third equally between any surviving children.
Another one-third than can be distribute equally or unequally between any surviving children according to the will.
The final one-third may be disposed freely by the deceased.

Nevertheless, if it is being stipulated in an international or Spanish will, the application of the testator´s nationality home law, then the Spanish inheritance law will not be applied to either Spanish or worldwide assets.

In fact, EU citizens living in Spain, can now choose whether the law of their home country or their country of residence applies to their estate.

Inheritance and will

Making a will is relatively quick, and its cost is not very high (less than 50 euros in normal conditions), so it is highly recommended to carry it out to avoid future problems, since the notary will advise you so that you can clearly capture the will of the testator.

Although writing a will in Spain is not essential, it is a way of ensuring that the assets will be disposed of according to the wishes of the testator. As such, foreign wills are valid and enforceable, however, they must be translated into Spanish by sworn translation and legalized before a Spanish consul (or apostilled where appropriate).

In which autonomous community do I pay inheritance taxes?

Another of the fundamental questions is geography, where should I pay inheritance taxes? In the Autonomous Community where the deceased has stayed a greater number of days in the period of the five years immediately prior to his death. In order to prove it, in addition to the registration certificate, there must be other circumstances that ratify it, such as electricity and water consumption, enrollment in the health center, etc.

Valuation of inheritance

When it comes to evaluating assets and rights, the law follows the real or market value criteria, which is the one that has been agreed between independent parties. For some time now, the determination of the market value of urban real estate for tax purposes has been resolved with more or less success, its minimum valuation consisting of multiplying the cadastral value by a coefficient published by the Junta de Andalucía each year according to the municipality where it resides. Therefore, a minimum accepted by the Junta de Andalucía is established, thus avoiding future verifications by the Administration.

However, the valuation of companies, plots, rustic lands, rights, etc., may be of more complexity. For tax purposes and in order to respect the will of the deceased, the advice of a specialist in the matter is recommended

Is there an obligation to accept the inheritance?

There are cases in which the value of the assets is very low or the debts are higher than these, and therefore you may not want to accept the inheritance. There is the possibility of renouncing the inheritance once the deceased has died, formalizing that resignation in writing before a notary, and with very different tax consequences depending on the favor of a specific person or not, and before or after the tax is prescribed on Successions and Donations, issues that must be the subject of individualized advice.

Disinheritance causes
Disinheritance consists, basically, in depriving the heirs of the rights that correspond to them by law. In practice, it is a complex and difficult situation to face since the Civil Code only includes this possibility in very serious cases such as attempting against the life of the testator or his/her spouse, exert threat, fraud or violence to force the testator to make or modify the will, for unjustified denial of food and care, etc.

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