Marzo 6

Expats die too…

Whether your great-aunt leaves you a coastal villa in Marbella or your grandfather bequeaths you his fashionable Madrilenian flat, one thing is certain: the hassles have just begun. The funeral over, you must begin to unravel Spanish red tape and prepare to pay your newfound Spanish tax liabilities…

Administering Spanish and UK estates differs greatly. Who pays inheritance tax (“IT”) is an example: Spanish IT is paid by beneficiaries, whereas in the UK it’s the deceased’s estate that foots the bill. To have Grandpa’s flat registered in your name (essential if you’re ever to sell it subsequently), you must first pay Spanish IT. Rates vary throughout Spain and depend on the familial relationship that links the beneficiary to the deceased (if related). Contrast this with the UK, where IT is paid at a flat 40% rate above a sizeable non-taxed sum.

To move in to your great-aunt’s villa, in addition to Spanish IT you must also pay local value increase tax (known as plus valía) to the town hall in Marbella, as well as Land Registry and Notary’s fees. The villa itself and all her other Spanish assets of significant value must be listed in an inheritance acceptance deed, including her Spanish bank accounts, her red Ferrari and her collection of Salvador Dali lithographs.

Enero 8

The International Child Abduction Lottery

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of 1980 (the Convention) is one of a large number of conventions signed in the Hague but it stands out as possibly the most well-known – why? Probably because it deals with the emotional and sometimes highly publicised issue of child abduction.

The Convention’s aim is to have children swiftly returned to their country of habitual residence when someone – usually a parent – takes them from, or prevents them from returning to, that country in breach of the other parent’s rights.

When the Convention was first conceived, it was expected that it would mainly prevent fathers from turning up at school gates, bundling their children into fast cars and taking them off in clouds of dust. But the last four decades have shown that the reality is very different: most abductions involve no physical violence or spiriting-away of children in the middle of the night. Instead, the typical abductor is the mother and abduction occurs when – perhaps after a stay with the children in her original home country – she can’t bear to return them to the country where they were being brought up, her relationship with the children’s father having ended.

Octubre 25

Differences in Spanish/English divorces

Clients may have a choice of where to divorce.  Here we examine some of the very different procedures and possible outcomes that may arise if a couple has the right to divorce either in Spain or in England and Wales (which from now on in this blog post we’ll refer to as ‘England’).

If one spouse perceives either of these two jurisdictions as being advantageous (London being billed as the ‘divorce capital of the world’, the levels of its punchy financial orders not being seen in Spain, and Spanish courts not making the asset redistribution orders that an English court does), there may be a race to ‘get in first’, thereby ensuring that the divorce is heard in one jurisdiction as opposed to the other.  Where time is of the essence, drafting the necessary paperwork to win that race and divorce in England is likely to be a quicker process than it will be in Spain.  In England, one can launch a divorce process and follow up with the financials later;  whereas in Spain, to start a divorce, one must do all the very careful drafting (including regarding financial claims) before filing in court, this then being a brake on filing first.