Old Spanish wills made by (resident) British nationals are being declared void

Raymundo LarraĆ­n Nesbitt, May, 8. 2018

Blog post copyrighted © 2018. Plagiarism will be criminally prosecuted.

By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Director of Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers
8th of May 2018

 

As previously warned in other articles of mine (Spanish Wills and Probate Law in light of European Regulation 650/2012) new European Regulation has rendered some old Spanish wills void. Any Spanish will witnessed before the 17th of August 2015 should be revised by a lawyer to ensure it is fully compliant.

In today’s blog post we examine how two old Spanish wills, made by British nationals and granted prior to the changes of 17-08-15, were declared void by Spain’s Dirección General de los Registros y del Notariado (DGRN, for short). The DGRN is the legal body tasked to oversee the roles of both Notaries and Land Registrars in Spain.

We tend to forget the human tragedies that hide behind these unfortunate situations. What the annulment of these wills has meant is to shatter the lives of women, surviving spouses, who out of no fault of their own, had their life’s torn apart following the deaths of their husbands. Unprotected women who placed their trust and financial well-being in the hands of their now defunct husbands, and who were already going through an ordeal of their own, were cut out of the Spanish wills made by their late husbands. The children disagreed with the content of the wills, challenged them – and won.

This nightmare scenario could have been easily avoided altogether by their husbands if these had made a new updated cast-iron Spanish will compliant with the terms of the new EU Regulation. This tragedy is going to repeat itself over and over again in the future with other surviving spouses on not heeding my advice; if you care for your significant other, ensure your Spanish will is compliant with the new set of laws.

  1. DGRN resolution of 14th June 2016

A British national, who had his habitual residency in Spain, dies in September 2015 (after the changes that came into effect on the 17th August 2015). He made a Spanish will in 2003. The man left three children and a wife. He decided to leave everything to his wife and cut out his three children.

His children contest the Spanish will. Long story short, the case reaches the DGRN and it rules that the Spanish will is void as it did not comply with the terms laid out by the new European Regulation 650/2012. As a result, his wife is cut out of the will and left penniless, whilst the three children inherit all his estate in equal shares.

  1. DGRN resolution of 3rd of July 2016

A British national, who had his habitual residency in Spain, dies in October 2015 (after the changes that came into effect on the 17th August 2015). He made a Spanish will in 2005. The man had two children and a wife. He decided to leave everything to his wife and named as substitute heirs, in the event of his wife’s death, his two children.

His children contest the Spanish will. Long story short, the case reaches the DGRN and it rules that the Spanish will is void as it did not comply with the terms laid out by the new European Regulation 650/2012. As a result, his wife is cut out of the will and left penniless, whilst the two children inherit all his estate in equal shares.

 

Conclusion

The stark warning I gave in my article's conclusion of January 2015 still holds true:

“Surviving spouses or partners are the ones who stand to lose most (or all) under this new Regulation unless you act now.”

Do not take chances with your loved ones’ well-being and plan ahead for your demise. Making a new Spanish will, that is fully compliant with the new European Regulation, is only €195 through us. This is a paltry amount compared to the dozens of thousands of euros your family stand to lose through litigation unless you act now; not to mention the additional grief and aggravation you will spare them at a time of bereavement.

It is in truth a small price to pay for peace of mind that will avoid a family being torn apart over money matters. Ensure your last will is respected and carried out the way you wanted it to be.

"Dura lex, sed lex."

 Roman civil law maxim meaning that, however regrettable the outcome of a legal matter, the law must be upheld.

 

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Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers is a law firm specialized in inheritance, conveyancing, taxation and litigation. We will be very pleased to discuss your matter with you. You can contact us by e-mail at info@larrainnesbitt.com, by telephone on (+34) 951 894 675 or by completing our contact form.

 

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