Processing an inheritance step by step
Losing a family member or loved one is a painful event. In general, we feel frustrated and distressed and the least we want to do is to take care of legal procedures, for example, to process an inheritance. It is common to feel blocked in the face of such a painful situation. It is also common to leave the entire legal burden in the hands of a third party, which is recommended, a legal professional with experience in the field of inheritance. Likewise, we want to help you by leaving you a guide of what to do to process an inheritance and do not miss a step in the legal procedure.
Obtaining the death certificate
Obtaining the death certificate, which is an official document, is the first thing to do. This document serves to confirm the death of the deceased and will allow the probate process to begin, it is also requested for the burial.
It is a simple procedure to obtain this document. It can even be done online, through the website of the Ministry of Justice. If you prefer the traditional way, request the document at the Civil Registry of the area where the deceased died.
Processing an inheritance – Investigating whether the deceased granted a will
With the death certificate in hand and after 15 days, the inheritance can be processed. At this point what should be done is to investigate if the deceased granted a will or if he died intestate.
The Certificate of Last Will and Testament is needed to know these points:
- Whether or not he/she made a will during his/her lifetime
- The last will and testament drafted
- Where to find this will
- There is a fee to obtain this certificate. In 2022 the amount was fixed at 3.82 euros.
- It is also recommended to request the Certificate of Insurance Contracting, to verify if the deceased had an insurance policy contracted.
Obtaining the will
Once the above procedures have been completed, the relatives of the deceased can live through 4 possible scenarios:
Having a closed will: In this case, the relatives must go to the notary’s office to know the last will of the deceased.
An open will: In this scenario the family members are aware of the contents of the will and can choose between processing the inheritance at the notary’s office or through a private document.
If a will exists, but the notary is deceased or the notary’s office is closed: In this case, family members should go to the Notary Association and investigate which notary’s office inherited the file they are interested in.
If there is no will: In this case, the next of kin should go to the notary’s office of the place of death. The objective is to declare the heirs so that they are established as the heirs of the will.
Did the deceased have any assets?
Generally, family members do not know what assets the deceased had. In order to know them and to be able to process the inheritance, they must follow a series of legal mechanisms.
In order to know the real estate, a Nota Simple Registral is requested. If the relatives are unaware of their own existence, a location note is requested from the Land Registry. In the latter case it is necessary to go to the cadastre if the real estate is not registered.
In the case of bank accounts, it is necessary to go to the corresponding bank branch and request proof of balance and other items.
If it is not known whether the deceased had bank assets, you should go to the Bank of Spain to ask for proof of positions and movements.
To find out if he had vehicles, the DGT is asked for a list of cars and possible unpaid fines that the deceased may have had pending.
In general, you have 5 options and we explain them below:
1. Accepting the inheritance, including debts
2. Failure to accept the inheritance through a public document
3. To renounce the inheritance in favor of a third person. In this case, the inheritance is accepted and donated to a third party.
4. To accept the succession with benefit of inventory. Debts are paid with the inheritance and if anything remains for the heir(s).
5. Deliberate. This is a right that the heir can exercise, request to see the inherited assets and decide whether to accept them, renounce them or accept the succession with the benefit of the inventory.
Distribution of assets
The next step in the inheritance process is the distribution of assets. It can be done in two ways:
It is reflected in the notebook if the heirs reach an agreement regarding the assets.
If the heirs do not reach an agreement, an accountant is appointed who, by law, must not assign a property with an obligation to compensate, unless there is an authorization.
In order for the heirs to obtain the inherited assets, they must pay the Inheritance Tax. This must be done within half a year of death.
They must also pay the Plusvalia Municipal, in case the locality so requires.
Being aware of all the legal procedures for handling an inheritance will make the process somewhat easier. With this guide we wanted to ease the legal burden after a painful event.