Spain Explained

Executors in Spain

Last updated on March 19th, 2020 at 01:57 pm.

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.

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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.

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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.

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4 comments

Edward Robinson

27 January, 2022 8:13 pm

I have a friend in London and whose Uncle recently died in Spain. She says that his carer rather that his family is the beneficiary of his estate but does not wish to enquire further without antagonising relatives who live nearby. There has been a brief conversation between the carer and one of the relatives but little else.. Understandably my friend would like to find out what is happening, so is there a procedure for her to follow. Is there probate as in uk? How is an executor appointed? Are legal expenses deductible & more to the point, are any relatives included in the will? The estate included a house and also two allotments.

Oscar Paoli

28 January, 2022 11:31 am

Hi Edward,

According to UK succession laws, one can appoint as beneficiary of his/her estate any person, even if they are not relatives. Under UK rules you have the freedom to choose who you wish to inherit all your estate and leave nothing for the family. This is perfectly possible and it often happens, especially with carers who pass the last years of many ill people by their side.

If one wants to find out if a Will has been signed in Spain, they must provide an original death certificate and apply for it to Madrid. We can help with this. There, you will just find if a Will was signed here, details of the Notary and date of execution of the said will, but you won’t have access to the contents. Only if you are mentioned in the will, as beneficiary, executor etc, you will be allowed to obtain a copy of the Spanish Will.

If there is a will in Spain signed after the British will, the British Will will probably be void, as it is normally revoked. We would need to see a copy of the UK Will in order to advise you.

If you wish to obtain a UK Probate and will, you must start an application in the UK, before the corresponding Probate Court. We can not help you with this, sorry.

If there was a Will, it will be released according to UK laws. I understand that they will be allowed to appoint as Executor in the UK the person who is appointed in the Will, not any other person, but please make your query before the Probate Court,
However, if there is a Spanish Will, which is valid and has not been revoked by any other will in any other country, this will be the one used for the bequething here in Spain.

Who said the beneficiary is the carer? If someone has confirmed this, they must have some copy of the will, showing you a copy of this document will clarify things.
If the person who holds a copy of the Will in Spain and therefore can confirm that the carer is the beneficiary rejects to show you the copy, then you would need to find out yourself first, providing an original death certificate and finding out details of the Notary and date of signing of the Will, and then try to get a copy. If the person making the application is not a beneficiary (even if family) the Notary won’t release the copy, so it is a question of trying to guess who may appear in the Will and thus who has the right to claim the inheritance.

Much better if you get a copy of the will amicably!

Should you need anything from us do not hesitate to contact us at legaldpt@abacoadvisers.com

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Ruth Darsow

15 June, 2022 10:52 am

My aunt has recently died in Spain, having lived there for almost 30 years (she is British). Im the beneficiary of her will, however found out recently that she was unfortunately swindled out of most of her money by her friend / financial advisor. It’s a bit of a long story which I won’t go in to here. She made her accountant the executor of the will (who is also friends with the financial advisor). It’s been 3 months since my aunt died, and the executor won’t respond to any of my communication. It’s been painful getting the will out of him, and won’t send me any bank statements or any correspondence. All the items my aunt left I’m having to sort out getting them sent to me as he won’t do anything. Im based in Melbourne and my aunt had absolutely no family left (she was 87) so I have no idea how much money she has left. How long does the executor have to deal with things and should he be communicating with me? thanks ever so much

Oscar Paoli

16 June, 2022 9:09 pm

Hi Ruth,

According to art. 904 the executors have one year to fulfil their obligations unless a different period is stipulated in the will. The year can be extended in certain cases and after this time legal action would have to be taken before the Courts.

Also confirm art. 907 “The executors must give an account of their duties to the heirs” therefore he is obliged to give an account.

If you are not satisfied, you will have to go to court. You will have to give power of attorney to a specialist lawyer to take care of everything on your behalf.

If you need help with the actual administration of the estate we can surely be of assistance, should you wish to contact us please email us at legaldpt@abacoadvisers.com

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers