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Let’s explain in detail each of the key steps to accept the inheritance, from the application of the death certificate to the delivery of all assets and rights.


A.- Initial Formalities: Death Certificate, Certificate from the General Registry of Acts of Last Will, Certificate from Registry of Insurances with death coverage


Death Certificate


The first move is to apply to Civil Registry of the last domicile of the deceased person for a Literal Death Certificate. It should be asked at least two copies, for different uses. This document is issued at no cost. It may be ordered online, in person in any Civil Register, or by post addressed to Civil Register of the place of death.

Certificate from the General Registry of Acts of Last Will

Once obtained the Death Certificate, the heir must apply for a certification from the General Register of Last Wills. He must wait fifteen working days since the death of the deceased before ordering.

The General Registry of Last Wills is an administrative Registry where are recorded all wills made by a person throughout his life. The original documents are not sent to this registry but remain safeguarded by the notary who authorised the will.

The heir must file or send the death certificate (not a photocopy) and a copy of the paid administrative fee -Form 790-.

This certification confirms whether or not the deceased made a will in Spain, and if so, reports only last one.


If the heir applies in person  at the Territorial Delegation of the Ministry of Justice, the certificate will be delivered immediately. For instance, this is the address and telephone number of the Territorial Delegation of the Ministry of Justice: for the Valencian Region (Provinces of Castellon, Valencia and Alicante): Hernán Cortés, 24 – entresuelo, 46004 VALENCIA. +34963943558


Life Insurance Central Registry Certificate

Occasionally the heir or heiress of a life insurance policy is not aware of its existence, and consequently, they would never come to claim it. Could happen that even the deceased ignored he had such insurances because they came associated with other financial products. The deadline to apply for the compensation of life insurance is five years.

If these amounts are not claimed within this period, they will be lost. Therefore in 2005 was created a Register of Life Insurance Contracts with Coverage for Death, where insurance policies are recorded. To see if the deceased had life insurance you should request a certificate of insurance contracts covering death.


B.- Succession Title: Will or Declaration of Heirs


Last Will.

To continue the proceedings the heir needs an authorised copy of the will. If the deceased made a will in Spain, shall appear on the certification we have obtained from the General Registry of Acts of Last Will. He may did several, although the only testament of significance will be the later dated.

The certification indicates the date of the will, the name of the notary where it was granted, and the Notary office where was granted.

With this information, the heir knows in which Notary office he can request the authorised copy of the will.  The application can be made in person at that notary’s office, but only one of those individual mentioned in the will or interested in the inheritance (or a representative with special power of attorney );  it can be applied also by post by sending a request signed behalf of any notary. Once legitimised the signature on the application, we can send to the notary where the will is protocolised, together with the certificate of last will and an original death certificate.

The authorised copy of the will has a cost that depends on the number of pages of the original will and the time it was granted. It will take from the application notice at notary’s office about 4 days.

Having the will is crucial because it will show who is the heir, and when several, in which percentage.


Declaration of Heirs.


If the deceased granted a will in Spain, we will only know it when we get the certification of the General Register of Last Wills. When applicable the Spanish Inheritance Law, in such cases it will require always a notary to determine who are the heirs called in accordance with the Spanish law, processing the declaration of heirs.


The procedure to be followed in such cases is simple; First, must be determined a competent notary; at the applicant’s choice: the Notary of the last domicile of the deceased, or wheresoever’s most of inheritance estate is located, or the place of death, or a notary of a district adjacent to any of the above.


Documents to show to the Notary:


1. ID of the deceased or otherwise registration certificate.

2. Original death certificate and certification Last Will. 3. Birth certificates for all the heirs.

4. Death certificates of the inheritors predeceased to Notarial Declaration of Heirs, and those with closest kinship.

5. Family Book.

6. Two witnesses who know well the family to declare they know that there are not other heirs.

7. Signature at the Notary. Once you have all these documents together, you need to take them to the notary’s office, prepare the deed with his officials, make an appointment and come that day with two witnesses, to sign de Inheritors Declaration Deed behalf the notary.

8. Since signing the deed until the notary declares formally who the intestate heir is, must wait at least 20 working days, which in practice becomes almost a month. Since then, heirs can obtain a notarised copy of it, where who are the heirs and their share on it will be declared.


C.- Inventory : Assets, Real Estate, Cash, Current Accounts balances or positions, Shares, Vehicles, Insurances, House equipment


First of all, you have to locate the title deeds of property of the deceased. Next, you have to ask for «Fincas Localization Notes», to identify in which Registries of Spain appear properties, and finally, a «simple note» of those. In addition to identifying them, we will know the mortgage charges or liens that fall on each of them. If you are aware of an existing property not registered in the Land Registry, other means of localisation is the Real Estate Cadastre.


Cash, bank account balances and securities.


With original copies of the Certificate of Death, Certificate of Last Will, and Testament (or Declaration of Heirs), all banks must be requested in writing to issue a certification of all balances, shares and securities owned by the deceased, Referred to the day of his death.

Banks charge fees for certifying balances of bank accounts and securities. Since these certificates have a cost, you can start by collecting the bank documents that the deceased had at home. Limit the search to those banks, and to the bank accounts that are identified in the last declaration of the Spanish Income Tax -IRPF-; And, finally, go bank by bank asking if statements appear in his name, and if so, you are entitled to apply for the balance certificate.

The bank blocks all accounts of the deceased as soon as they are aware of his death. You can only take the money from them when you show the bank to have paid the inheritance tax and your status as heir.

As for the vehicles, once the taxes have been paid, the ownership must be transferred to the heir or legatee in the General Direction of Traffic.


Assets valuation.


All property, rights and shares must be valued according to their real value (market value). Usually, the market value and the cadastral value rarely coincide. The valuation must be made taking into account the state of the goods to the day of the death.

The Spanish Regions have been establishing criteria to value the real estate, taking the cadastral value as the starting point. For instance, in inheritances on properties located in the Valencian Region suffices to know the cadastral value for its calculation, to which a multiplier coefficient is applied. However, the Canary Islands do not have fixed valuation criteria, so you have to take into account the real market value.


Assessment of the Usufruct.

The valuation of the usufruct is decisive to calculate the inheritance tax payable by the usufructuary and by the “nude owner”, It is also important if usufructuary must be compensated in cash or other rights in full domain, instead of usufruct.

The national ISD law establishes these rules: – Temporary usufruct: 2% of the total value for each year, without exceeding 70%. – Lifetime usufruct: 70% of the total value when the usufructuary is less than 20 years old, subtracting as age increases, 1% for each year more than nineteen, with a minimum of 10% of the total value. – Formula: 89 – usufructuary age =% to be applied with a maximum of 70% and a minimum of 10%.

Valuation of the Nude Property.


The value of the “nude property” right derives from the difference between the value of the usufruct and the total value of the property.

Full value domain = nude property value + usufruct value.


Debts of the deceased.


By accepting the inheritance, the heir receives property and rights, but also debts, becoming obliged to pay them not only with the inherited rights but also with his previous property. For this reason, if you know that the deceased had debts and obligations you have to consider whether to accept the inheritance.

A person takes the inheritance tacitly if he performs any act that implies having assumed the status of the heir, for example by using or selling a property, or by spending money on it. In other words, acceptance of the inheritance may be express or implied, and it has strong legal consequences.

If the debts are higher than rights, the option to exercise the right to renounce inheritance before a notary (in a private document does not have validity) or to accept it for the benefit of inventory, must be taken into account.


Debts of the inheritance.


These are obligations generated by the succession itself, such as burial and funeral expenses, authorising Notary, Property Registry, Lawyer, Certifications, and Inheritance Tax, Municipal «Plusvalia», fees for the certificate of the General Registry of Last Acts Will, the certificate of the Life Insurance Registry, the application for the authorised copy of the will, fees for transfers of vehicles , Bank fees for the issuance of balance certificates.


Life insurances.


The deceased may have designated a life insurance beneficiary to a person who has nothing to do with his heirs since the amounts that are collected by the life insurance are not part of the inheritance. However, in cases where there is no specific designation of life insurance beneficiaries, the amounts will correspond to the heirs. When making the liquidation of the Inheritance Tax, the amounts that are received by life insurances must be included.


Domestic trousseau


Domestic trousseau or garments (furniture and household goods) are awarded in principle to the surviving spouse, being jewels and other objects of extraordinary value not included. It is estimated at 3% of the total value of the inheritance, unless the heir party assigns a higher value, demonstrates that it is nonexistent or that its value is lower than that resulting from the application of said percentage.

The widower or couple may have the right to be assigned the usual family accommodation.


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