Inheritance Without a Will: How it is Distributed

Although currently, it is not the most common fact, it is possible that someone dies without a will or that it is not valid. When that happens, there is often a question about how this inheritance is shared and how to do the procedures to inherit it. Below you will find the answer to your questions.

If you have doubts about the inheritances of foreigners in Spain, click here.

Who receives an inheritance without a will?

If someone dies without a will stipulating how their property should be divided, intestate succession law must be followed. This situation is called intestate succession and in the Civil Code in the common distribution on intestacy system the following order of intestate succession is established:

1. Children

If a parent dies without a will the children, to whom the inheritance corresponds receives it to equal shares.

2. Grandchildren

In case of not having living children, grandchildren or other descendants receives an inheritance in equal parts.

3. Parents

In case of not having descendants, the parents, in equal parts receives the inheritance. In the absence of one of them, the other receives the entire inheritance.

4. Grandparents

If there are no descendants or parents, grandparents or other ascendants will inherit. Half of the inheritance corresponds to the ascendants by the father and the other half by the mother. Within the same line will be divided between each one.

5. Spouse

If there are no descendants or ascendants, the inheritance corresponds to the spouse, unless they were separated judicially or in fact at the time of death.

6. Brothers

If there are no descendants, ascendants and spouse, the next relatives with the right to inherit are the brothers, in equal shares. If there are siblings of father and mother with half brothers, the first will receive a double portion per head than the second.

7. Nephews

With the absence of all the previous ones, the other relatives will succeed each other until the fourth grade, starting with the nephews and the uncles.

8. State

If there are no relatives with the right to inherit, the inheritance goes to the State, where it is divided into three parts: One for the Public Debt Amortization Fund; another for municipal institutions of charity, instruction or social action of the place of domicile of the deceased; and another for provincial institutions of the same type as the previous ones, with a preference for those to which the deceased belonged.

Are there any differences between autonomous communities?

Yes, and it’s a question that many people overlook and then there are surprises. In Aragón, País Vasco, Navarra, Catalunya, Galicia and the Balearic Islands the order or some concepts that you have seen previously can be modified. Ask your advice in case the deceased belonged to one of these autonomous communities.

For example, in Catalonia it is established that the inheritance will be paid by the spouse before the ascendants, while in Galicia the last to inherit is not the State, it is the Autonomous Community of Galicia.

How to receive the inheritance without a will?

To obtain the assets that belong to inherit from a deceased without a will, you must:

1. Obtain the certificate of death in the Civil Registry, the certificate of death coverage after 15 days and the declaration of heirs, which can be obtained in the court or the notary.
2. Make an inventory of assets and debts of the deceased.
3. Go to a specialist to distribute the goods among the heirs in a partition notebook.
4. Pay the Inheritance and Donations Tax in the autonomous community where the deceased lived. It must be done in the next 6 months, although an extension of 6 months may be requested before the fifth month.
5. Some goods received must be registered, for example, the houses in the Land Registry.

If you need advice or want to resolve any doubt about inheritances without a will, contact our tax advisors without any commitment by telephone or email.

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