If you have been appointed as the executor or administrator of an estate including Spanish assets and the will (if any) was executed in England or Wales, or you are involved in contentious successions proceedings covering both jurisdictions, you may need to submit a sworn translation of the following documents before a Spanish notary public or in court as part of the probate process or claim, apart from the sworn Spanish translation of the English will.
Some of the documents are essential for initiating the probate process, others are intended to supplement the will, provide some guidance to the personal representatives or explain the rules of English successions and intestacy to Spanish legal professionals involved in the process.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR DEALING WITH SPANISH ASSETS UPON DEATH
- Last will and testament, together with any codicils, validly executed under the laws of England and Wales. The will must usually be certified and signed by the lawyers representing the executor or administrator, and apostilled before it can be submitted abroad.
- Grant of probate. This document is issued to the executor granting him or her a legal right to deal with the testator’s estate as provided for in the will. The grant of probate must also be legalised with an Apostille before it can be submitted abroad. Applications for grants of probate in England and Wales must be submitted to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service or HMCTS. The executor can apply online (through this link) or by post filling in this application form.
- Letters of administration: if the deceased’s will does not mention any executors or some of his or her assets, the rules of intestacy will apply and an administrator must be appointed instead of an executor. In this case, the administrator must apply for the letters of administration before he or she can deal with the estate. These letters, as well as the grant of probate (jointly named ‘grants of representation‘), may not be necessary. This will be the case, for example, if the deceased’s estate is made up of cash or property owned by joint tenants only. You can apply for letters of administration using this form.
- Grant ‘ad colligenda bona’. A temporary or interim grant with a limited purpose will be required in certain circumstances, for example, if the deceased was a sole trader and it is necessary to run his or her business, or where he or she entered into a contract for sale or property and died before completion. Time can be of the essence for the sale and running of the business, and in these circumstances the executor or executors do not want to wait until a full grant is issued. The purpose for which this grant is issued is limited to collecting and receiving the estate and do other acts as may be necessary until a full grant can be applied for. Sworn affidavits and an application for this type of grant must be submitted to the Probate Registry.
- Death certificate. In England and Wales, applications for death certificates are made by filling in this form. Likewise, death certificates to be submitted in Spain must be legalised before submission abroad and must therefore bear the Apostille.
ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS THAT MAY BE REQUIRED
- Certificate of law. A certificate of law might be needed explaining the rules of intestacy applicable in England and Wales. This might be required when no will exists or there is one but it is necessary to explain how certain provisions in the will should be construed under English law.
- Letter or affidavit from probate lawyers (if any) confirming the purpose and implications of the grant of probate or letters of administration.
- Deed of variation. Subject to the approval of all those affected by it, a deed of variation may be executed by a beneficiary modifying how the deceased’s assets are to be distributed.
- Disclaimer. A disclaimer is a simple deed by which a beneficiary, whether in a will or by intestacy, may reject an inheritance.
- Letter of wishes. When executors or trustees are offered discretion in the administration of the estate, a letter of wishes, albeit not legally binding, supplements the will to provide some guidance as to how to deal with the assets.
- Power of attorney. When flying to Spain for carrying out estate administration tasks is simply not convenient for you, you may grant a power of attorney to someone to act on your behalf.
- Court documents. Claim forms / statements of case and other litigation documents. A sworn translation of court documents, as well as the documents stated above, may be necessary in cross-border contentious successions.
A sworn Spanish translation of the English will and other probate documents will be required. I am a legal & sworn English-Spanish translator appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2003 and I specialise in English Law and I am based in the UK. You can contact me here.
Sworn / Legal English-Spanish Translator with more than 15 years of experience in legal translation. BA in Translation & Interpreting and Graduate Diploma in English Law. Specialising in trusts, contracts, company documents and civil litigation documents. Traductora jurada y jurídica de inglés con más de 15 años de experiencia en la traducción jurídica. Licenciada en Traducción e Interpretación y Graduada en Derecho inglés. Especializada en trusts, contratos, documentos societarios y escritos y documentos para procesos civiles y mercantiles.