10 key questions for the processing of an inheritance

What documents are necessary to start the distribution of an inheritance?

Three documents are essential to start the procedures: the death certificate, which is requested at the Civil Registry of the place of death, the certificate of last wills and the certificate of Contracts and Insurance, which are requested at the Registry of Last Will and Testament by appointment and upon payment of a fee.

How can I find out if the deceased person had a will?

The certificate of last will and testament will state whether the deceased had granted a will. If the person had granted several wills, the last will certificate will state the last will granted and, therefore, the valid will; also, in which Notary’s office it was granted.

How can I find out if he/she had life insurance?

In the same request for the Certificate of Last Will and Testament, you can also ask for a document called Certificate of Insurance Contracts for Death Coverage that the deceased had subscribed; this certificate will include all the life insurance policies that he/she had contracted.

How can I get the will?

Once we obtain the last will and testament certificate stating which is the valid will and before which Notary it was granted, we can go to that Notary’s office and, after proving the condition of heir, we can request the authorized copy of the Will.

What happens if the deceased person did not make a will?

In this case, the declaration of heirs must be processed before a Notary. This document must include all the persons called to participate in the inheritance.

Once all the documentation has been obtained, what is the next step?

Once we have obtained all the necessary documents: death certificate, certificate of last wills, insurance contract, and will or declaration of heirs, the partition and liquidation of the inheritance must be carried out in a Notary’s office of the place of death, in order to draft and sign the corresponding deed of distribution of all the assets that make up the inheritance.

How are the assets of the inheritance distributed in case there is a Will?

They will be distributed according to the provisions issued by the deceased in said will, as long as they respect the strict legitimate rights of the forced heirs.

How are the inheritance assets distributed in case there is no Will?

In case there is no will, the assets will be distributed according to the provisions of the Civil Code. This means that the children and, if applicable, their descendants inherit first. If there are no children or descendants, the ascendants (parents or, if applicable, grandparents) will inherit. If there are no descendants or ascendants, the widowed spouse will inherit. If there is no widowed spouse, the collaterals (siblings and children of siblings) will inherit; failing that, the nephews and nieces will inherit, and if there are none, the rest of the relatives of the same in the collateral line will inherit, but only up to the fourth degree, since beyond this degree there is no right to inherit without a will. If the inheritance has no heirs or legatees (named as such in a will) with the right to succeed the deceased, the inheritance is declared to be a recumbent “yacente” and will be in favor of the State.

What taxes do I have to pay?

The Inheritance Tax. In order to calculate the amount to be paid, we must follow the regulations of each Autonomous Community. In addition, if there are real estate properties, it will be necessary to present and pay the Tax on the Increase in Value of Urban Land, known as the Capital Gains Tax, the calculation of which has recently been modified by Royal Decree-Law 26/2021.

How long do I have to pay the Inheritance Tax?

The deadline is 6 months from the date of death, with the possibility of requesting an extension of 6 additional months, but the extension must be requested one month before the full course of the first 6 months, that is, when the fifth month ends.

At Sainz & van Kesteren Abogados, we are specialists in Inheritance Law in all its extension. You can contact us in case you wish to initiate the processing of an Inheritance or if you want more information.



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