In the event you know or believe a deceased party has assets in Spain, you may follow the procedures outlined below to discover the extent of these assets and to successfully retrieve them.
You can easily find person’s assets, if they are registered, before the Registry of Movable Assets. The first step to be taken is to create an account on the Registry’s website where you will be able to see all the registered information. You can find assets by typing the name of the deceased party. This information costs about EUR 9-13.
You can also check whether the deceased party owned a company as well as its financial status before the Registry of Commerce, by following the same procedure.
In both Registries you may check whether there is any charge on the assets.
To obtain information from the bank, you will have to provide the following documents:
- Power of Attorney
- Death Certificate
- Testament or certification of last will
All of them must be original copies and with the Apostille of The Hague.
The information available regarding accounts statements depends on when these accounts were electronically registered. Thanks to technological advancements it is possible to obtain all account activity since the account was registered electronically. Usually banks keep information for 5 years, but if somebody asks for information beyond that, it is possible to get it from the date of its electronic registration.
After filing all the aforementioned documents, you will be able to ask the bank to freeze the pertinent accounts. There is no stablished procedure; just ask the bank and they will decide whether to do it or not. If the account has other proxies, freezing the account will only affect half of it, if for example the other proxy is a widow or the children of the deceased. This is a unilateral decision on the part of the bank.
If there is a judicial proceeding against the deceased, you can request the Court to freeze the account of the deceased person. However, only in the event there is a judicial proceeding may this be requested.
According to article 9 of the Spanish Civil Code, the applicable law will be the national law of the deceased. However, if a testament exists, the applicable law will that of the testament.
Example: If the last nationality of the deceased was Spanish, the Spanish law will apply. However, if a Spaniard makes a will according to French law, tthen French law will apply.
As aforementioned, you will have to provide the following documents to obtain any kind of information, except for the online search before the Registry of Movable Assets:
- Power of attorney
- Death Certification
- Testament or certification of last will
These documents may be from the country of the deceased or a third country. In order to use them in Spain, they must be stamped with the Apostille of The Hague.
Information cannot be obtained from a third party without being properly authenticated. Whether you are a Spanish national or a foreginer requesting this information makes no differnce.
If the aforementioned documentation cannot be filed, in principle, there is no possibility of obtaining any information.
Assets retrieval in Spain
First of all, the process form retrieving assets in Spain is the same for Spanish nationals and for foreginers. The important thing is to have the necessary legitimate documents. Usually when dealing with bank accounts, retrieval occurs by ordering a transfer to the bank account of the pertinent heirs.
In principle, there is no need to contact any authorities except for the Public Notary, who will prepare an Acceptance of Heritage, which is needed in order to retrieve assets.
There is no special rule regarding liabillity during assets retrieval. Lawyers and heirs may be liable if they cause damages. The damaged heir is entitled to demand for compensation in the event any assets are damaged.
Spain has signed tax treaties on heritage taxes with the following countries: France, Sweden and Greece.
During a person’s lifetime, it is highly recommended to prepare a list with all person’s assets worldwide. This will serve to avoid any excess waste of time and costs. Locating all assets will greatly facilitate the retrieval process.
Bibliography Doe, John B. Conceptual Planning: A Guide to a Better Planet, 3d ed. Reading, MA: SmithJones, 1996.
This article is not considered as legal advice