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Inheritance in Spain

Article supplied by Welex, September 2015




According to Spanish legislation, there are three types of heirs: voluntary, those entitled to a reserved share, and legatees. Voluntary heirs are those appointed in the will. If they die before the testator, the right to inherit is not passed on to their descendants. Heirs entitled to a reserved share are, in essence, the children or descendants. Should there be no children, this share will go to the parents or ascendants. Spanish law acknowledges one-third of the estate of the deceased person for this category of heir. Legatees inherit specific assets such as an apartment, jewels or car. The legatees must be appointed in the will and their share cannot diminish the non-disposable reserved share.


Inheritance in Spain is divided into three shares. One-third of the non-disposable reserved share (“legítima”) is one-third of the estate of which the testator cannot freely dispose. This portion of the estate must be devolved to the heirs as mentioned previously (second type of heir). One-third of the “mejora” (improvement) may be distributed either in equal parts or unequally among the heirs. Some heirs might receive more, or they might all receive an equal part. It is also possible to exclude heirs from this part. The testator has the absolute freedom, or free disposition, to leave one-third of the inheritance to any person they consider appropriate.


In essence, it is possible to disinherit children or descendants in the event of their denying maintenance to the parents or ascendants, or if they use defamatory language towards them or physically or verbally abuse them.


In Spain it is possible to disinherit the spouse if she or he did not comply with marital duties, denied maintenance to the children or spouse, or made an attempt on the testator’s life.

Welex Lawyers & Accountants
C/ Ramón Gómez de la Serna 23, Local 7, Marbella
Tel. (+34) 952 775 521

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