How to execute a will in Spain

This article defines primary concepts relating to inheritances in Spain.

First, what is Inheritance Law in Spain?

Articles 657 et seq. of the Spanish Civil Code regulate Inheritance Law in Spain. Inheritance Law establishes the rights arising from a person’s intent that a will declares and publishes. In absence of a will, certain provisions of the Inheritance Law apply.

Through inheritance, a testator (the decedent) transfers all of his or her assets, rights, and obligations to the beneficiary (heir) as long as the death of the testator has not extinguished these rights and obligations.

What Is a Will and Who Can Create One in Spain?

The Spanish Civil Code defines creating a will as a fully personal act through which a person can dispose of all or part of his or her property after death in favour of heirs.

Under Article 662 of the Spanish Civil Code, all persons can create a will except for those the Inheritance Law exempts. According to the Inheritance Law, the following persons cannot execute a will:

  • Persons under 14 years of age
  • Any person who is not of sound mind
  • Incapacitated persons

Under the Spanish Legal System, the main forms of wills include:

  • Holographic Will: This is a will that the testator creates in his or her own handwriting. Article 668 of the Spanish Civil Code regulates this type of will. To create it, the testator must be of legal age.
  • Open Will: This is a will that the testator must execute in the presence of those persons who must authorize the act. Additionally, these persons must know the contents of the will. Under Article 694 of the Spanish Civil Code, the will’s execution must occur in the presence of a notary public —except in those cases that the Law identifies.
  • Closed Will: This is also a will that the testator creates in his or her own handwriting. The testator does not disclose his final intent, but he or she declares that the latter is located in a sealed letter submitted to the persons who must execute the will. Therefore, in this case the parties may understand that a will exists, but they will not know its contents.

In summary, the Spanish Legal System establishes different types of wills. Before choosing a specific type, we must follow the provisions of the Spanish Civil Code to comply with the formalities and conditions it requires.

This article is not considered as legal advice

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