Foreigners resident in Spain. New regulation on succession.

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The European Regulation 650/2012 on jurisdiction and applicable law in matters of successions and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession has come into effect. It affects heirs of people who deceased from August 17, 2015.

In case of inheritances, the general rule in Spain was to apply to the heirs the law of the country of nationality of the deceased person. However, the new Regulation sets that the applicable law will be, in general, the law of the residence of the deceased at the time of death.

This could be of importance, for example, for the many British people that usually reside in Spain. If they all rely on the implementation of their English law —in which, for example, there are not legal heirs—, they could now discover with surprise that two thirds of the heritage to be received by the spouse, must necessarily be delivered to the sons and daughters according to the Spanish law.

Without entering into additional legal details, it can easily be understood with this simple example that the fact of applying one law or a different one could determine major conflicts, many of which would be solved only in lengthy and costly litigation if nothing is foreseen in advance.

Our recommendation: be sure to use the possibility granted by the Regulation to determine in your will the applicable law. In case of necessity, do not hesitate to contact us.

Javier Martinez

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