Maybe one day you will have to face the situation of accepting or rejecting an inheritance. This is a complicated moment for you and an important decision to make. That is why we want to help you and throw a little light on this complicated subject.

This is a normal procedure in Spain, but before making any decision at all, you must take into account all that it implies. What are the risks? Are there any costs? How much time do I have? These are some of the questions you must ask, and we will try to answer you in this post.

Nevertheless, before making any decision at all, it is always good to contact a professional who specialises in all that is related to inheritances in Spain, who can study your particular case.


Acceptance of an inheritance in Spain

When a person passes away, the first thing the heirs must do is accept the inheritance. How? In Spain, there are two legal ways to accept an inheritance:

Through express acceptance: the most common way is by means of a notarial deed, drawing up a private document of acceptance of the inheritance.

Or by tacit acceptance: this situation occurs when the acceptance of the inheritance is understood to have happened as the heir takes possession of the goods that have been transferred to him or her. For example, imagine that part of the inheritance is jewellery and the daughter of the person who has passed away uses said jewellery; in this case, it is understood that the daughter has accepted the inheritance.

Once the inheritance is accepted, there are two alternatives that must be taken into account.

‘Simply’ accept the inheritance: if there is no doubt at all that the deceased has left any debts, or that the assets are higher than the liabilities, then it is recommendable to accept the inheritance ‘purely’.

Accept the inheritance ‘with the benefit of inventory’: if you are not sure whether the deceased person had some debts, then it is recommended to accept this alternative, which consists of the fact that the heir is only responsible for the debts up to the amount of the value of the inherited goods.

Terms and costs in accepting the inheritance

Let’s start by clarifying the period of time you have to accept the inheritance. In any case, you always have a term of six (6) months to pay the inheritance tax  from the date of death of the testator.

With regard to the costs, these depend on each particular case. For example, it can depend on whether there is a will or not, the degree of kinship, etc. Please do not hesitate to call us on (+34) 952 77 55 21. In this way, our experts can study your particular case.

Reasons to reject (repudiate) an inheritance in Spain

Nowadays, it may happen, maybe because of a lack of knowledge, that families repudiate the inheritance; that is they reject the inheritance because they will have to pay the inheritance tax or due to the effects of the economic crisis.

However, we would like to clarify one point here: once you repudiate (legal term used when a person rejects an inheritance) the inheritance, there is no way back. Therefore, this is a decision that must be carefully thought through; you must go over all the pros and cons.

The clearest case to repudiate an inheritance is when the liabilities are much higher than the assets. Let’s state an example: Someone bought a house in Spain during the real estate boom, and he did so with a mortgage of €200,000. Now, the value of the house is not higher than €100,000. In this case, it is clear that it will be logical for the inheritance to be rejected.

Another case where an inheritance would be rejected, for example, is when one of the heirs has debts to settle and the creditors could claim these debts with the assets of the inheritance to settle those debts. If the heir decides to reject the inheritance, the inheritance would pass on to other relatives.

Inheritance tax needs to be paid when you accept the inheritance. This may vary according to the autonomous community of the deceased person. The high costs of these taxes may also be sufficient reason to repudiate the inheritance.

And what happens if you want to delegate the inheritance that corresponds to you to your descendants? Maybe you do not need that inheritance but your children do; in this case, you will also have to reject the inheritance so that it passes on to them.

And finally, do not forget that the procedure to accept or reject an inheritance in Spain is one in which you should consult a lawyer with experience in this area. Contact us.