I am a legitimate heir or I have been named as heir in a will, but am I obliged to accept an inheritance in Spain?


As we have commented in previous blogs the heirs succeed the deceased as universal heirs, i.e. they inherit not only the goods and rights (assets) that the deceased had at the date of his death, but also the burdens and obligations (liabilities). In this situation, it is possible that the heirs may find themselves with the unpleasant surprise that what they are really inheriting is an accumulation of debts and obligations that exceed the assets that the deceased had during his lifetime.


Given this situation, am I obliged to accept an inheritance in Spain?


Whether you are a forced or voluntary heir, you are not obliged to accept the inheritance.


There are different situations that the heir can adopt when it comes to accepting or not accepting the inheritance, accepting it with certain conditions or directly renouncing it.


Am I obliged to accept an inheritance in Spain?


We will review each of them succinctly:


1. Pure and simple acceptance of the inheritance in Spain. This is the situation in which the heir accepts the inheritance, in which he/she will acquire the assets that the deceased had, but also assuming the burdens and obligations. In this case, the heir is responsible for the debts of the deceased with his or her own assets.

It is a voluntary and free act of the heir, i.e. he or she cannot be coerced or violated when accepting the inheritance purely and simply.


2. Acceptance of the inheritance in Spain with benefit of inventory. In this case, the heir accepts the inheritance, but unlike the pure and simple acceptance, he/she accepts it up to the extent of the inheritance assets, that is to say, the assets that form part of the inheritance in Spain will be those that cover the burdens and obligations, without the heir having to respond with his/her own assets for the same.


The acceptance of the inheritance with benefit of inventory shall be made before a Notary Public, within 30 days from the date on which the heir knows that he/she is the heir, either because he/she has the inheritance or part of it in his/her possession or because he/she has been requested by a Notary Public by anyone who shows an interest in the inheritance in Spain, to accept the inheritance purely and simply, with benefit of inventory or to repudiate the inheritance.


Who can be interested in someone accepting or renouncing the inheritance in Spain? Anyone who may be affected by the acceptance or renunciation of the inheritance. That is to say, another heir, a creditor (both of the deceased and of the heir himself), or legatees.


3. Rejecting or repudiating the inheritance in Spain. Having been requested by a notary to accept the inheritance purely and simply, accept it for the benefit of inventory or reject it, the notary will inform you that if you do not make a decision within the established period (30 days) it will be understood that you accept the inheritance purely and simply, i.e. we would be in a situation of tacit acceptance, with the consequences indicated above, i.e., assuming the assets and rights of the deceased, but also his or her burdens and obligations.


Therefore, if you, the heir, do not wish to accept the inheritance purely and simply, nor with benefit of inventory, you must carry out a manifest act of disposition before a Notary, in which you expressly state your renunciation or rejection of the inheritance in Spain of the deceased. This renunciation is total, i.e. it is not possible to accept one part of the inheritance and reject another.

We continue with our scheme:


Inheritance Tax in Spain levied


Once we have seen the possibility of the heir to accept or renounce the inheritance, it is time to determine which are the assets and rights that make up the inheritance in Spain.

In our next blog post, we will discuss this point.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any doubts you may have when accepting an inheritance in Spain. Our specialist lawyers will be pleased to assist you. 



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