Author Graziano Cecchetti
Spain has always been the most popular relocation destination for British citizens. The Office of National Statics (ONS) records that approximately 900,000 UK citizens are living as long-term residents in EU countries, Spain having the largest contingent of 308,805, with a little over a third of the ex-pats aged 65 years and over, many of whom have lived in Spain for a considerable number of years. The global experience of coronavirus has sharpened the focus of many people on the importance of settling their affairs, a task that is frequently subject to being put-off to a later date. Also, many people who actually do make a will, fail to update it when circumstances change.
The sometimes complex nature of blended families that are commonplace today can be known to cause contentious issues and rifts within a family. A number of circumstances can change within families and a testator (person who makes a will) may wish to alter a will they made some time before. Divorce and subsequent remarriage, not necessarily their own, can change the dynamic of a family; sometimes, an adult child may marry, creating circumstances that are in conflict with the testator. Families fall out for many reasons. Also, after divorce, a new relationship may not be sealed in marriage and it is not uncommon for a “de facto” spouse, often in their older years, to find that regardless of the longevity of their relationship without marriage or a will when their partner dies they are not entitled to inherit or even remain in the property they shared with the deceased. There is a facility to register a person as a registered partner or unmarried recorded partner in some regions of Spain.
The laws of succession are usually applied to the estate of a person who dies intestate (without a valid will). Without a will to clearly define how your assets are to be disposed of and to whom, a situation could arise, in the absence of a current valid will, where the laws of succession of the country of your residence are invoked and your estate is divided in strictly allotted percentages between your related heirs. This can have an adverse effect on people where an anticipated inheritance is not forthcoming but also on those that inherit unexpectedly, in that they are responsible for any tax attached to the estate and settlement of taxes vests with the individual rather than the estate. An individual may be unprepared to assume the unforeseen responsibility.
Graziano Cecchetti, a partner in the Barcelona office, commented: “Inheritance disputes are often complicated and highly stressful, coming at a time of great distress. […] Legal arguments can be often prolonged and costly, adding to the upset caused to the relatives. The simple expedient of making a will, enshrining your wishes in clear terms, removes this distressing possibility from your loved ones.”
The lawyers in Giambrone’s trust, succession and inheritance disputes teams have extensive expertise in navigating contentious situations involving tangible assets in Spain and the UK and internationally. Having an enviable record of successfully advising and assisting clients with complex contested inheritance matters, frequently involving multiple jurisdictions.