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What if I’m left alone in Spain?

For many expats, the move to Spain is a big step, often as our ‘plan for retirement’. The intention is to get away from the cold, damp weather of the UK (and other Northern European countries) and enjoy the warm, relaxed atmosphere here in Spain.

Our friends and relatives are very envious when they spend time with us here and then hop back on the short flight back home in anticipation of being met with damp, dreary weather. However, us hardened expats know that living in the sun is not always what it appears to be on the surface. Navigating the Spanish system can be (and usually is) a nightmare for most expats, even if you are fortunate enough to have an understanding of the language (a working knowledge let’s say) fighting your corner can be difficult and stressful.

So what happens when we lose our soul mate? The one person you know you can depend upon to support you through difficult times – I’m talking about what happens if your partner dies. It’s bad enough losing someone we love, but there are a number of issues on the financial side of things that would need to be attended to. For example:

  1. Arranging a funeral in Spain (Which undertaker, burial, cremation or repatriation to the UK, do I want my partner to be cremated within 24 hours or do I want time to digest what’s happened and to have a longer period to arrange things as we do in the UK? What are my options and how much will it cost, is there someone who speaks English who can help me?)

  2. Have you made a Spanish Will? (If a foreign owner of property in Spain dies without making a Will, in Spain or anywhere, whether resident or not, there is no dispute – his property will be disposed of in accordance with Spanish inheritance rules.) Beware – Spanish law requires a parent to leave two-thirds of his estate to his children, even bypassing the surviving spouse.

  3. What about our bank accounts? (Individual banks have their own rules, in the case of an account in the sole name of the deceased, typically you are able to pay money in to cover bills but not able to withdraw, for a joint account the deceased’s half of the balance at date of death is frozen.)

  4. What about Inheritance Tax? (In Spain, even spouse to spouse is not tax free. The inheritance tax system is also very different to the UK. Each beneficiary pays tax on their inheritance dependent upon their age, how closely related they are to the deceased, what their existing wealth is, where they live, etc, etc) Ownership of assets cannot be transferred and property is not able to be sold to pay the tax – the Notary must first feel confident that any tax due has been paid.

  5. What if I was not married to my deceased partner? (In short, the inheritance tax payable is at least double as you are deemed to be unrelated – the amount payable varies from 100% extra to 140% extra)

  6. What if the house was in my deceased partners name only? (Taking all of the above into consideration, you could be left homeless!)

  7. What if I want to return to the UK to be with family? (Any financial planning we do on behalf of clients includes the flexibility to handle any changes to your life and will stand good wherever you want to live)

  8. My partner has always sorted all our finances out and I wouldn’t even know where to start! (Our clients often say this to us when we first meet them)

What can be done?

We can put you in a position of being ‘death ready’ – I know, what an awful thought, but as Benjamin Franklin said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” None of us can side step death I’m afraid, but we can make sure that our loved ones are not ‘left alone’ in terms of navigating the Spanish system and paying unnecessary tax in the event of our death. Speed Financial Solutions can help you ensure that your partner needs to make only one phone call – TO US.

Let us take the worry out of your life in Spain. Take a look at our website ( and contact us (Tel 951 315 271 or 951 318 529) – we are happy to discuss your own situation in more detail. One of our Advisers will be happy to come and spend some time with you either in your home or at our office to explain and go through your options, so do call to make an appointment.

Andrea J Speed Principal Speed Financial Solutions 16 October 2013

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