It was impossible to disinherit a child in Spain. But now the rules have changed in the Basque Country and other regions are looking at their own laws.
Just over a year ago the Spanish Basque region changed its inheritance law. Parents can now write out children from their Will without having to give any reason. Since then, people from other parts of Spain have been moving to the Basque Country to take advantage of the law. Now it appears that other autonomous regions may follow suit.
Much of Spain is bound by the Spanish Civil Code which states that children are entitled to two thirds of a parent’s estate, leaving just one third free for beneficiaries chosen by the departed. In some regions, the law allows for a parent to disinherit a child but only when good reasons are shown to justify the decision. This applies to the regions of Catalonia, Aragon, Navarre, Galicia and the Balearics.
The new Basque Civil Code has reduced the amount which must be left to children to just one third and also allows for children or grandchildren to be disinherited without the need to give just cause.
The chief notary in the Basque Country, said: “Children who have been explicitly excluded from the will have no right to inheritance, and the parents don’t have to offer any explanation, they simply explicitly exclude them or avoid mentioning them in the will. If you don’t mention them, it’s the equivalent to cutting them out.” There is no right of appeal for the disinherited party.
In most regions of Spain, inheritors are forced to pay off the debts of the deceased, if necessary with their own funds
On the other hand, the rights of the children or grandchildren have been strengthened as the new Civil Code says a beneficiary cannot be saddled with debts worth more than the amount they inherit. This is extremely important as in most regions of Spain, inheritors are forced to pay off the debts of the deceased, if necessary with their own funds.
If, however, there is just one child and that child has no children, he or she cannot be disinherited from the one third of the estate to which they are entitled unless the parents give a justifiable reason for disinheriting them.
New rules attract people from other areas
The Basque Country has seen an influx of people from other areas of Spain, including foreigners, who wish to take advantage of the new Civil Code. As soon as it was broadcast on television, notaries in the region began receiving calls asking for more information.
There are numerous reasons cited for people wishing to disinherit a child or grandchild, amongst them separation and loss of contact over many years, due perhaps to a family argument or because they have moved far away and have not kept in contact. Perhaps the disinherited child has fallen into drug or alcohol addiction and parents are concerned money would be used to fuel the habit.
Residency alone would not be enough to take advantage of the new rules – you would need to live in the region to benefit
The number of people who are enquiring about how they can become resident in the Basque Country is increasing daily, but residency alone would not be enough to take advantage of the new rules – you would need to live in the region to benefit.
Other regions looking at the Basque rules
It has been reported that other regions are looking at the Basque Civil Code. Many Spaniards and foreigners living in Spain are exasperated at the 2/3 rule, especially when they would like their spouse to inherit the family home rather than the children. Most spouses end up being lodgers for life in their own homes. The Basque Civil Code hasn’t completely addressed this problem, but it has gone some way to give a person more freedom in the making of their Will.
The issue is of particular concern to British residents, a high percentage of whom, the data suggests, are part of a new relationship with children from previous relationships. To avoid difficult and divisive issues in the future, it is crucial to organise your property purchase with the help of a good independent lawyer.
To be put in touch with an expert, call the Property Guides Resource Centre on 020 7898 0549, today.