What happens with English Wills applying to Spanish assets?
As pointed out in some of our articles and videos, it is generally advisable to have a Spanish Will for your Spanish assets than having an English Will (or a Scottish Will) that covers your worldwide estate. However, very often we find ourselves dealing with Spanish estates where the deceased died with no Spanish Will. In those cases, if there is a general English Will, then this one can be used for the assets in Spain. However, the English Will is not sufficient to administer the Spanish estate. It is also necessary to have a Grant of Probate that validates the English Will and confirms the appointment of the Executors.
The Spanish Land Registrars are now familiar with this document and have started to request the Grant of Probate whenever there is an English Will involved. This can become a problem in estates where the deceased died with an English Will but no Grant of Probate was issued as all his or her assets were in joint names with the spouse. From an English law point of view, there is no need to obtain a Grant of Probate if the deceased had no assets in his sole name but the Spanish Land Registrars are not aware of this fact and will still request a Grant.
What can be done in cases like the one above? One option is to apply for a Grant of Probate but this will not be a straightforward process as, technically, there is no need to get one. It is very likely that the Probate Registry will ask all type of questions and will want to understand the reason why a Grant is required. This can prove costly and time consuming.
Another option is to issue a certificate of law in Spanish for the Spanish Authorities explaining why the Grant is not required and also clarifying who the beneficiaries and executors of the estate are. The norm is for this document to be drafted and signed by a Notary Public or a Solicitor who is familiar with both legal systems.
As usual, there is always a solution to a problem. The important thing is to instruct the right professionals and, why not, also have a little bit of luck.