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Inheritance planning is a crucial aspect of wealth management, particularly for those who wish to leave a lasting legacy for their loved ones.

For donors with assets in Spain or residents of the country, it is essential to understand the Spanish inheritance laws and tax regulations to maximise the estate’s value for the beneficiaries.

This article will discuss strategies and best practices to help donors maximise their inheritance in Spain. Please note that this information is provided for informational purposes only, and it is always advisable to consult skilled professionals for personalised guidance.


Understanding Spanish Inheritance Law

Before exploring ways to maximise your inheritance in Spain, it is essential to understand the country’s inheritance laws.

Spain has a civil law system that governs inheritance matters, and there are key points to consider:

Forced heirship

Spanish law dictates that a portion of an individual’s estate, called the “legítima,” must be reserved for specific heirs, such as children or surviving spouses. This limits the donor’s freedom to distribute their estate as they please.

Regional differences

Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities. And each of them has its own regional inheritance laws. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the rules applicable to the donor’s specific region.

Applicable law

Inheritance matters for individuals with assets in multiple countries can be complex. However, according to EU Regulation 650/2012, European Union citizens can choose to apply the inheritance law of their nationality rather than their country of residence.

Minimising Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax in Spain, known as “Impuesto sobre Sucesiones y Donaciones” (ISD), is levied on the beneficiary’s estate share.

The tax rate varies depending on the relationship between the donor and the beneficiary, the beneficiary’s pre-existing wealth, and the value of the inherited assets.

The Spanish national government has set progressive inheritance tax rates, which are based on the inheritance amount and fall into the following brackets:

Inheritance up to €7,993: 7.65%

€7,993–€31,956: 7.65% to 10.2%

€31,956–€79,881: 10.2% to 15.3%

€79,881–€239,389: 15.3% to 21.25%

€239,389–€398,778: 25.5%

€398,778–€797,555: 29.75%

€797,555 and above: 34%

 Spanish law offers several inheritance tax reliefs, which vary depending on the heir’s relationship with the deceased. Beneficiaries are classified into four groups as follows:

 Group I: children (natural and adopted) under 21 years receive an allowance of €47,859.

Group II: children (natural and adopted) over 21 years, grandchildren, spouses, and parents/grandparents (including adoptive) receive an allowance of €15,957. Some regions may recognise unmarried partners registered under a pareja de hecho.

Group III: siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and their ascendants/descendants receive an allowance of €7,993.

Group IV: cousins, all other relatives, unmarried partners (unless permitted by the region), and unrelated parties do not receive any allowance.

Individuals with disabilities are entitled to an allowance of either €47,859 or €50,253, depending on the severity of their disability.

 To minimise inheritance tax, consider the following strategies:


Gift assets during your lifetime

By gifting assets to your beneficiaries while you are still alive, you can take advantage of the lower tax rates for lifetime gifts compared to inheritances. Ensure that you follow the gifting regulations and pay the required gift tax.

Create a usufruct

A usufruct is a legal arrangement that grants someone the right to use and benefit from another person’s property for a specified period.

By establishing a usufruct, the donor can effectively transfer the property to the beneficiary while retaining the right to use it during their lifetime. This arrangement can significantly reduce the inheritance tax due on the property.

Take advantage of regional tax allowances

As mentioned earlier, Spain’s autonomous communities have different inheritance tax rates and allowances. In addition, some regions, such as Madrid and Catalonia, offer generous tax allowances for close relatives.

Research the tax regulations in your region and ensure that you make the most of the available allowances.

Estate Planning Tools and Techniques

Consider using various estate planning tools and techniques to maximise your inheritance in Spain. These include:


Draft a Spanish will that clearly outlines your intentions and ensures your estate is distributed according to your wishes.

A valid will can help prevent potential disputes among heirs and expedite the probate process.


Although trusts are not as common in Spain as in other jurisdictions, they can still be an effective estate planning tool.

Establishing an offshore trust can help protect your assets from creditors and future claims and provide tax benefits.

Life insurance

Purchasing a life insurance policy can provide financial security for your beneficiaries, as the death benefit is typically exempt from inheritance tax. Ensure that you designate the beneficiaries of the policy, as this will determine who will receive the payout upon your death.

Considerations for Non-Resident Donors

If you are a non-resident donor with assets in Spain, there are additional considerations to keep in mind when planning your inheritance:

Double taxation treaties

Spain has signed double taxation treaties with several countries to avoid taxing the same assets twice.

Therefore, ensure that you understand the provisions of any applicable treaty between Spain and your country of residence to minimise your tax liabilities.

Non-resident beneficiaries

If your beneficiaries are not residents of Spain, they may be subject to different inheritance tax rates and allowances.

Thus, it is crucial to research the tax implications for non-resident beneficiaries and plan your estate accordingly.

Involving Professionals in Estate Planning

Estate planning is a complex process. It is advisable to involve skilled professionals to help navigate the various legal, tax, and financial considerations. These professionals may include:


A knowledgeable lawyer can help draft a will, establish trusts, and provide guidance on inheritance laws applicable to your specific situation.

Tax advisors

A tax advisor can help you understand the tax implications of your estate planning decisions and suggest strategies to minimise tax liabilities.

Financial advisors

A financial advisor can help you manage your assets and make investment decisions that align with your estate planning goals.

Asset Protection Strategies

Protecting your assets from potential risks, such as lawsuits, creditors, or economic changes, is essential to maximise your inheritance in Spain. Consider the following asset protection strategies:

Diversify investments

Diversifying your investments across different asset classes and geographical locations can help protect your wealth from economic downturns and market fluctuations.

A well-diversified investment portfolio can ensure that your assets continue to grow over time and provide a solid foundation for your estate.

Establish holding companies

Creating holding companies, particularly in jurisdictions with favourable tax laws, can help protect your assets from legal claims and creditor actions.

Holding companies can also provide tax advantages and enable you to manage your investments efficiently.

Limit personal guarantees

Avoid providing personal guarantees for business loans or other financial obligations, as they can expose your personal assets to potential claims. Instead, consider using business assets as collateral or explore alternative financing options.

Succession Planning for Business Owners

If you own a business in Spain, effective succession planning is critical to ensure the continuity of the business and preserve its value for future generations. Consider the following strategies for business succession planning:

Develop a succession plan

Create a detailed succession plan that outlines the process for transferring ownership and management of the business to your chosen successors.

This plan should include a timeline, training and development initiatives for the successors, and contingency plans in case of unforeseen events.

Involve family members in the business

If you wish to pass your business on to your family members, involve them in the business early on to provide them with the necessary experience and knowledge to manage the company effectively.

Create a family governance structure

Establish a family governance structure, such as a family council or a board of directors, to provide guidance and oversight for the business.

This structure can help ensure the smooth transition of ownership and management and mitigate potential conflicts among family members.

Charitable Giving as Part of Estate Planning

Incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan can help you fulfil your philanthropic goals and provide significant tax benefits for your estate. Consider the following strategies for charitable giving:

Leave a bequest to charity

By including a bequest to a charitable organisation in your will, you can ensure a portion of your estate is used to support an important cause. This bequest may also reduce the inheritance tax liability for your beneficiaries.

Establish a charitable foundation

Creating a charitable foundation can provide a lasting legacy of your philanthropic efforts and offer tax advantages for your estate.

A foundation allows you to control the distribution of funds to your chosen charities and ensure your charitable objectives are met.

Donate assets to charity:

Donating assets, such as property or shares, to a charity can help reduce the value of your estate for inheritance tax purposes. Sometimes, these donations may also qualify for tax deductions or exemptions.

Expatriate Considerations

For donors who are expatriates living in Spain or those who have assets in multiple countries, additional estate planning considerations should be taken into account:

* Review your domicile status

Your domicile status can significantly impact your inheritance tax liabilities. Carefully review your domicile status and consider the tax implications of changing your domicile if necessary.

Create multiple wills

If you have assets in different countries, consider creating separate wills for each jurisdiction to ensure your estate is administered according to the respective laws and regulations.

Make sure your wills are compatible and do not contradict each other to avoid potential disputes or complications.

Understand foreign tax implications

Research the inheritance tax laws and regulations in the countries where you have assets, and consider the potential tax implications for your beneficiaries.

In some cases, tax planning strategies, such as establishing trusts or gifting assets during your lifetime, may help minimise the tax burden for your beneficiaries.

Planning for Digital Assets

Including digital assets in your estate planning process is vital in the modern world. These assets may include online accounts, social media profiles, digital photos, and even cryptocurrencies. To ensure the proper management of your digital assets:

Create an inventory

Make a comprehensive list of your digital assets, including account usernames, passwords, and any relevant security information. This inventory should be kept up to date and securely stored to prevent unauthorised access.

Include digital assets in your will

Clearly outline your wishes for distributing and managing your digital assets in your will. Designate a digital executor who will be responsible for managing these assets per your wishes.

Understand the terms of service agreements

Review the terms of service agreements for your digital accounts to understand the provider’s policies regarding account access and management after your death.

For example, some providers may require specific documentation or procedures to grant access to your accounts.

Reviewing and Updating Your Estate Plan

Estate planning is an ongoing process, and it is essential to regularly review and update your plan to ensure it continues aligning with your goals and circumstances. Factors that may necessitate changes to your estate plan include:

Changes in family dynamics

Events such as marriages, divorces, births, or deaths in the family can impact your estate planning decisions.

Ensure your estate plan reflects these changes and continues to provide for your loved ones.

Shifts in a financial situation

Significant changes in your financial situation, such as the acquisition or sale of assets, may require adjustments to your estate plan to optimise tax planning strategies and asset protection measures.

Alterations in tax laws and regulations

Stay informed about tax laws and regulations changes in Spain and other jurisdictions where you have assets.

Update your estate plan to take advantage of new tax planning opportunities or mitigate potential tax liabilities.

Updates in inheritance laws

Keep track of any changes to inheritance laws in Spain or other countries where you have assets, as these changes may impact the distribution of your estate and the rights of your beneficiaries.

Maximising your inheritance in Spain requires careful consideration of numerous factors, including Spanish inheritance laws, regional tax regulations, asset protection strategies, succession planning, charitable giving, expatriate considerations, and digital assets.

By developing a comprehensive estate plan and working closely with skilled professionals, you can ensure that your legacy is preserved and your beneficiaries are well cared for.

Please remember that the information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is essential to seek the advice and guidance of skilled professionals before making any decisions or taking any actions to navigate these complex issues.

By doing so, you can ensure that your estate planning efforts are tailored to your unique circumstances and objectives, ultimately maximising the value of your inheritance for your loved ones.

Get Professional Advice

Complete our contact form today in order to discuss your particular situation with a highly qualified, experienced, and fully regulated adviser

  • We promise to NEVER share your data with any third party
  • We operate no email lists
  • All data is managed securely in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)