What is the Declaration of Heirs in Spain?

Through the following article, we will address the question of  what is a declaration of heirs in Spain?

To do this, we must first analyse the necessary conditions to make and/or use the declaration of heirs.

Commonly, a testator draws up a will before his death- conforming to the legal parameters set by statute- in which he expresses his last wish. However, what happens if the testator did not draw up a will before his death or once the will is declared invalid or has lost its validity? It is in these cases when we must make use of the declaration of heirs.

Therefore, what is the declaration of heirs?

It is a certificate issued by a notary or a judicial judgement rendered by a judge determining who are the heirs or assignees of the deceased.

We apply the notarial declaration of heirs if the deceased has left a spouse, descendants or ancestors. In the case that the deceased has not left a spouse, ancestors or descendants at the time of his death, we must go the courts.

In view of the above, how does the notary determine if the deceased left a will before his death? To use a notarial declaration of heirs, it is an indispensable requirement — amongst others — to provide following the documents:

  1. A death certificate à this document will be issued by the corresponding Civil Registry
  2. A certificate from the Registry of Last Wills confirming that the deceased did not draw up a will
  3. A certificate of residence or an identity card of the deceased
  4. Official documents confirming marriages and relationships (family book, marriage certificate, birth certificate etc.). In any case, the notary must confirm these documents in advance since the notary will require some of these same documents or others.

Equally necessary is the presence of two (2) witnesses who know the family and can effectively confirm that they have no knowledge of the existence of other heirs who could come into the inheritance.

Given everything stated above, we can see that even in the event that the testator did not draw up a will before his death, the will is invalid or once the will loses its validity, the assignees are not left unprotected. They can come into the inheritance through the declaration of heirs, which will be reasonable under consideration of the circumstances of the case.

This article is not considered as legal advice

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