When you as a foreigner inherit property in Spain (e.g. from your deceased partner, parents or other family), the procedure to handle the inheritance basically takes place in Spain. When somebody dies, the first thing that has to be done is to find out whether there was a Will, either in Spain or in his/her home country. In Spanish Wills are only valid if they were signed in front of a Notary Public and stored in the Central Registry of Last Wills and Testaments in Madrid. When you want to find the Will you’ll have to send a request to this Registry. In the UK there are no legal requirements as to where a Will should be stored, so you will only find it if the testator informed his heirs about its existence and the place where it is kept. Unfortunately there is no International nor a central European registration system (yet) to find Last Wills and Testaments.
If the deceased person had his domicile in the UK and died there as well, the probate procedures start in the UK. The executor needs to obtain a “Grant of Probate” from the District Registry Probate (England). When there is property in Spain left, the heirs of this property should sign a Power of Attorney, written in Spanish, signed by all the heirs before a Notary in your home country, and legalized i.e. stamped with an “apostille”. The easiest way to do this is through a Spanish lawyer that can draft the Power of Attorney for you and give you directions how to obtain the “apostille”. With this document the procedures continue in Spain where you can get access to the property with the help of a Spanish lawyer and Notary Public.
When the deceased was a resident in Spain and leaves property in Spain, then the procedure will be dealt with directly by the Spanish Notary. A document called “Escritura Pública de Aceptación y Adjudicación de Herencia” will have to be signed by the heirs (this can also be done through Power of Attorney).
Please note that all property and bank accounts of a deceased person are blocked until the inheritance tax in Spain has been paid. This means that the beneficiaries will not have access to the money and cannot sell the house or the car. The procedure should be started within 6 month after the death of the person in question; taxes should be paid within this period. If you’re late, taxes will be raised with interests and fines.
The calculation of the inheritance tax that you will have to pay in Spain is rather complex. The amount depends a.o. on the value of the property, the relation between the deceased and the beneficiary, and the wealth of the beneficiary. The percentages to be paid may also vary per region: each Comunidad Autónoma has its own rules regarding the inheritance tax.
A small but important detail is that all beneficiaries that inherit in Spain should have a Spanish N.I.E. number.
With the declaration from the Tax Office that the outstanding has been paid for, property can be registered in the name of the heir and the bank accounts will be opened.