In the UK it is very common to have an executor, ‘albacea’ or ‘contador partidor´, to help ensure that your wishes are carried out when you die. However, in Spain this is much less frequent and executors are only usually named when a will is particularly complicated or where problems exist between heirs.
The executor position in Spain is a voluntary one and they are generally given six days once they have been appointed to either accept or turn it down. The only person who can be nominated as an executor is the person named in the will. The position cannot be delegated to someone else.
Once the executor has accepted the task then they must fulfil this function. It is a voluntary position without payment although it is possible that it has been provided for in the will. This can be a contentious issue if the will includes a general clause agreeing to the payment of fees without fixing a limit. The heirs who inherit from the deceased can find their inheritance dwindled by the fees for an executor.
You can also appoint more than one executor in the same will. Executors can work together or separately depending on the wishes of the deceased. It’s also possible to allocate only specific aspects of the inheritance process to the executor.
The executor can have a number of different responsibilities including:
- The payment of funeral expenses according to directions given in the will
- The distribution of money to different inheritors
- Communication with beneficiaries
- Ensuring that the wishes of the deceased are respected, following this up in court if necessary
- Payment of debts and collection of credits on behalf of the deceased
- Administration of the estate until all the assets have been distributed
The administration of assets can even include selling property and seeing the sale through if this is required by the will.
As you can see, this role is a very responsible one and great care needs to be taken when making the decision who to nominate for it. Although there is some legal protection when it comes to the possibility of negligence, this situation would further complicate the whole inheritance process.
If you do decide to appoint an executor in Spain then they will need to have a power of attorney to be able to carry out their role. It is the benefactors of the will that are required to give this power which means that they ultimately still have the decision about who it should be.