To draw up a last will is a pretty delicate topic that nobody wants to address. Unfortunately, many times we have no other choice but to deal with it. And honestly, it is good to know that everything has been taken care of if worst comes to worse.
The following summarized and simplified information does not claim to be complete or replace professional advice, but rather should serve as food for thought.
WHEN DO I NEED A LAST WILL?
if you are wealthy
if you have possessions (property, company, car, banking accounts…)
if you want to want to divide your possessions your way
if you want to disinherit your legal heirs
if you want to nominate to not legal heirs
if you want to bindingly specify what happens with your dead body
if it serves as a means of reducing inheritance tax
IMPORTANT: A joint will must be revised jointly before a new last will can be made.
WHERE SHOULD I MAKE MY LAST WILL?
There where your possessions are. If this is true for your home country and your “adopted country”, it is recommended to have a will in both. But consider that the last will supersedes all previous wills if you do not expressively prohibit it. For this you can use an interlocking clause.
WHICH LAW APPLIES FOR MY LAST WILL?
The law of the citizenship of the testator applies independent of the country of residence of both the testator and the heir.
However, some points concerning the laws of the “adopted country” have to be taken into consideration. In Spain for example:
1. The format of the Spanish will
2. The Spanish inheritance tax (difference resident/non-resident)
3. Spanish formalities concerning acceptance of an inheritance
4. Transfer of possessions located in Spain
HANDWRITTEN LAST WILL YES OR NO?
Although handwritten wills are legally binding in the UK and Spain, it is quite dangerous to draw up a last will by yourself because
1. a lot of incorrect or invalid can be written from not knowing the laws
2. these wills can easily get lost
3. they can get quite expensive for the heir since they must be legally certified at court
Thus, the best solution is a so called open will. Together with a lawyer, who provides legal advice, you write a draft that will then be certified by a notary. You receive a copy while the notary keeps the original in a sealed envelope.
· Open a folder with the most important copies for your heirs
(contracts,banking accounts, insurances…)
· Do not have large sums of money or valuables at home
· Issue a patient decree (living will)
· Do not make a joint will if you own property in Spain (fiscal reasons)