A will is a document stating the wishes of a person after their death, and can specify the distribution of assets (the most common) as well as other religious dispositions or recognition of children, among others. It is a tool that helps in making decisions and removes conflict between family members when the person is no longer present.


The Spanish Civil Code – as well as the Balearic Compilation – establishes the heirs to the deceased’s estate in the absence of a will: the relatives of the deceased, the widow or widower and the State (or the Balearic Islands Autonomous Community territorial administrations). The will entitles the person to name his or her heirs and determine the part of the estate destined for each.


However, it must be remembered that, even if a will has been granted, both the Civil Code and Balearic Compilation establish a set of people who have a forced heirship right; that is, a portion varying between a third, a half or two thirds of the estate is reserved for certain people and a usufruct is also granted in differing proportions to the widow or widower.


However, the entry into force of Regulation (EU) 650/2012 has given an “escape valve” for those persons also covered by legislation different to that of their habitual residence. It allows the person to choose under which legislation he or she wants the succession to be governed; that is, either the Spanish or that of his or her own nationality, which is of special interest to foreigners granting a Spanish will. A Spanish will cannot revoke one granted previously in another country if this is stipulated in the document.