The previous article touches on inheritance rules in countries outside the UK where identifying ‘next of kin’ is in some ways more important than in England. Writing Wills is much less common in Europe than in the UK as local ‘forced heirship’ laws identify who is entitled to inherit local assets, particularly houses, and who is liable to pay death duties.
In Spain the beneficiaries are liable for tax, and familiar rules in the UK such as exemption from Inheritance Tax for assets passing between spouses, and a ‘nil rate band’ of £325,000 are enormously generous compared with Spain. Allowances may be only around €16,000 per person and tax rates thereafter from 7.65% up to a top rate of 81.6% for heirs who are not close relatives. A Will made in the UK may not be recognised as far as property in Spain is concerned.
The State will freeze assets until tax is paid – basically due within 6 months of the death, with severe penalties for late payment. Will your heirs be able to find the cash quickly enough if you can’t get probate in the UK to release your assets here?
Of course there is much detail to be considered and you do need advice locally as well as in the UK, but if you are escaping the Jubilee celebrations to visit your place in the Eurozone for the last time, we suggest you turn your mind to these problems and do something about them!