Our Last Will and Testament is the declaration of our final wishes, the document in which we dispose of our assets and settle our affairs so that no-one else can make decisions about them after our death.
The Will avoids family conflicts, potential lawsuits and helps smooth the process for our heirs at notaries, property registries, banks and insurance companies. It is an extremely useful legal tool.
Often, we are reluctant to deal with the legal formalities necessary to draw up a Will, after all no one likes to think about death, but … what do we want our legacy to be in this world, a lawsuit or an orderly transfer of our estate free of legal problems?
Don’t hesitate, the Will as the written expression of our last wishes is the solution.
What types of Wills are there?
There are many forms of Will (holographic or handwritten, military, closed notarial), but the most common, inexpensive and secure form is the open notarial Will: a testator expresses their wishes before the notary and they are formalized in a public document, guaranteeing its legality. At notary this should cost less than €100.
Foreigners in Spain can use any of these, ideally advised by a lawyer. If you are going to sign an open Will at a notary’s office, it will have to include a translation into your mother tongue.
Why should we make a Will?
As explained above, basically because it avoids problems in the future. A Will covers circumstances that cannot be regulated in legal proceedings and is therefore an effective way for us to choose how to dispose of our assets and make decisions that influence the lives of our heirs and others. The freedom of form of a Will’s arrangements allows us to appoint a guardian and an age of majority for children should testators die before the children are old enough to inherit their bequest. It also allows the appointment of an executor to distribute the inheritance in case of dispute between heirs, and thus avoid future family disputes.
With a Will, we avoid many of the inheritance concerns that could arise. If we are separated, for example, and die intestate, the other parent would automatically administer our children’s inheritance, and could even manage any compensation they might inherit should we die suddenly in something like a car accident.
This can mean that someone from whom we have separated in what is sometimes a traumatic way will be the very one managing our estate after our death until our children come of age, something that is usually avoidable with a simple Will that determines who the administrator of our children’s assets will be. In Family Law, this is frequently overlooked, and yet a Will can be the best mechanism that we have to guarantee our children’s inheritance.