UPDATED 11th June 2019
1. Births in Spain
2. Deaths in Spain – Locating the Will and Applying for Probate
BIRTHS IN SPAIN
Every birth that takes place on Spanish soil must by law be registered in Spain. Even if you unexpectedly give birth whilst on holiday in Tenerife, you must report the birth at the local Registro Civil (Civil Registry) for the relevant borough in Tenerife. The attending doctor or hospital official (or a midwife if the birth took place outside a hospital) must certify the birth.
Once registered, the Registry will provide you with a Spanish Birth Certificate. This can then be registered back in your home country on your return, or at your home country’s consulate if you are resident or otherwise staying on in Tenerife.
Many non-Spanish are puzzled by the Spanish practice of using 2 surnames. Basically, Spain will register your child’s surname as being the Father’s surname followed by the Mother’s surname. So, if the mother is Mrs Wetter and the father is Mr Bed, the child is going to have a very rough time at school.
A child may choose to use his mother’s surname first when he reaches legal age.
Where either parent is of Spanish nationality, a child born in Spain is automatically awarded Spanish nationality. However, where both parents are non-Spanish, being born in Spain does not automatically grant the child Spanish nationality. However, the child may apply for Spanish Nationality between his or her 18th and 19th birthday, which is nearly always granted, particularly if the child has been primarily resident in Spain throughout childhood.
DEATHS IN SPAIN – RECOMMENDED STEPS, LOCATING ANY WILL(S) AND APPLYING FOR PROBATE
At some point, the paradise of life on our fair isle must come to an end for all of us when we finally shuffle off this mortal coil. So what happens when we die in Tenerife and what can we do to sort out our affairs to make things easier for loved ones and friends that we leave behind?
The key steps recommended for everyone living in Spain are
1. To make a Will
2. Select a cemetery (for burials) or crematory (for cremations)
3. Take out burial insurance (if applicable/required)
4. Inform relatives or friends of your arrangements
Unlike in some other countries including the UK, every Spanish Will must be drawn up by a Spanish Notary on official notarised paper. The testator must then sign the Will before that Notary. The Will is then placed in the Notary’s safe and a record of it is sent to the Central Registry of Wills (Registro de Actos de Última Voluntad) in Madrid. The Registry can only register ONE Will per person at a time. Hence, if a second Will is later signed before the same or a different Notary, then that second Will replaces the registration for the first Will. The Registry then sends notification to the Notary holding the original Will that it has been cancelled/revoked.
In the event of a death, the next of kin can go to any local Spanish Notary with an original Death Certificate, proof of relationship (e.g. Libro de Familia / Family Book) and their own I.D. and can request a certificate of search of the Registry in Madrid to locate the last Will (if any) of the deceased (Certificado de Ultimas Voluntades). The search typically takes one month and will incur a nominal Notary administration fee.
Once the Registry issues the Certificate of Last Will (Certificado de Ultimas Voluntades), and assuming a Will is located, the relevant Notary holding the Will can be contacted. That notary will then release the corresponding original Will held in their safe upon production of the said Certificate, the Death Certificate and the I.D. of the applicant. The probate process (Herencia) for administering the assets/gifts can then be commenced.
Tenerife Solicitors are the island’s only registered English Solicitors and Spanish Lawyers, offering a comprehensive Probate service both in Tenerife and back in England & Wales, handling all aspects of the procedure from start to finish, with the added advantage of being able to coordinate administration of probates in both countries simultaneously. Prices are highly competitive and the level of service is equal to, or arguably higher, that one would expect from a firm based in the U.K. For more information about TENERIFE SOLICITORS, click HERE.
In respect of the UK and Ireland, as neither has any compulsory Registry of Wills, there is a more complicated search process in those countries to ascertain if the deceased left a Will there. Often this will be known by close relatives, but in many instances, the deceased moved to Spain and lost contact with (or fell out with) close relatives, resulting in potential confusion as to the deceased’s actions or wishes.
This will typically require someone to do a physical search among the deceased’s documents and personal effects, or possibly at their bank or with any obvious lawyer. There is however a voluntary Registry of Wills, known as CERTAINTY (www.nationalwillregister.co.uk). Most UK Solicitors now recommend that clients voluntarily register their Wills with CERTAINTY, particularly if the testator’s friends and family are unlikely to have intimate knowledge of the preparation of the Will, or any changes that the testator might make to it at a later date.
In the U.K., following a death, if the existence of a Will is unknown, a search of CERTAINTY’s register will assist in proving that you have taken all reasonable steps in searching for a Will. This is important, because if a newer Will does subsequently come to light, an executor under an older Will (or an Administrator if the deceased died intestate without a Will) could be held liable by the new Will’s beneficiaries for failing to conduct a proper search. A search of CERTAINTY currently starts at £33.33 GBP plus V.A.T. depending on the level of search required.