Other procedures to consider when a person passes away in Spain

These are the less urgent but equally important procedures

IN our last article, we spoke briefly of the procedures which need to be carried out within 48 hours when a person passes away in Spain.

However, there are other things which need to be taken into consideration although fortunately they are not so urgent.

  • You will need to request their last will and testament, if they had one. After 15 days, you can request the Certificado de Actos de Ultimas Voluntades (Certificate of Last Will) which will show if a person left a will or not.

If there is a will, the certificate will show the name of the notary who authorised it so that a copy can be requested. If several testaments were made, the most recent is the only one which is valid.

If there is not a will, the legal heirs must file an Inheritance Declaration which will then be authorised by a notary in order to name the legal heirs.

  • The Certificado de Actos de Ultimas Voluntades can be requested online via the Ministry of Justice in Spain, or in person or by post by filling in a form which can be picked up at the Ministry of Justice offices. To do so you will need the original (or officially stamped) death certificate and proof of payment of the fee for issuing the certificate.
  • Inheritance: If you have been named as an heir in a will, you may accept or reject the inheritance.
  • Taxes: Within six months of a person’s death their heirs will have to make a tax declaration regardless of whether or not they have inherited assets from the deceased. If they have received property, they will also have to pay a tax on it.
  • Apart from this, the IRPF tax declaration must be done in the name of the deceased.
  • Social Security: Within 30 days of a person’s death, the Social Security department must be informed, especially if they were getting a pension. This can be done online or at any of the Social Security offices.
  • When a person dies in Spain, their ID number within the country, whether it is a DNI for Spanish nationals or a foreigners’ identification number, will no longer be used for anyone else, in a way, it dies with them. You will need to know this number to carry out many of the procedures when a loved one dies, so if you don’t have it, you will need to go to the National Police station and request it.
  • When a person passes away in Spain, another concern is what to do about their bank accounts. It is best not to withdraw money before the person’s death, even if they tell you to do so, because this could cause problems later with other heirs. If you are authorised to use their accounts, you can do so, but any withdrawals or transfers will show up later. If you are an heir and the will of the deceased states that you are entitled to the money in their account, then you will need to provide the bank with the will, the Certificado de Ultimas Voluntades and death certificate to access the contents of the account.
  • Vehicles: If the deceased had a vehicle which will no longer be used you will also need to inform the General Traffic Department (DGT) if you want to take it out of circulation. If you decide to definitively take it out of circulation, it will be taken to the scrap-yard. The DGT should inform the local town hall so they no longer charge you road tax, but be prepared in case it is charged again to provide proof the person has died. Take into account that you may still get a bill for road tax. If for example the deceased normally paid their road tax in May and they pass away in February, the bill for the normal period will probably come through but you can go to the town hall to get them to return the money for the period during which the car was not used.

Generally, only the direct heirs (spouse or children) of the deceased can take their car off the road, unless another heir is named in the will. In any case, all heirs must agree in order for this to be done.

Remember, having a funeral plan in place when a person passes away in Spain means that you can rest assured that your family will have financial and emotional support when you pass away and it will all be in their own language. Golden Leaves will handle all the initial procedures at the worst time for your loved ones, meaning they will have less to worry about.


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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.

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