LAST WEEKEND, representing White & Baos, I participated in a major conference held in London between Spanish Lawyers (Abogados) and English Solicitors.
The conference was organised with the cooperation of the Law Society of England & Wales, and was a great opportunity to meet new legal professionals from the same areas of law of both countries. But most significantly of all, the event once again reiterated the importance of interaction between the legal system of the UK and the legal system of Spain, in particular when dealing with cross border issues.
The comparative study between the legal systems of both countries was based on 4 main important areas: Succession Law, Family Law, Commercial and Labour Law; but in our articles this week and next, we will focus upon the first two areas given their great importance to our readers.
This week: Succession Law.
Just a few weeks ago our RTN article was about the severe problems arising for British citizens (amongst others) with assets in Spain who fail to state specifically in their Spanish Wills their wish to have their Will and Succession dealt with in accordance with their national Law. This is just one of the many examples where we can see the importance of the interaction between both legal systems. Since, unless the Spanish Will is drafted by an Abogado knowledgeable of both systems (English and Spanish), the Will could be easily contested.
This interaction between both systems is also clearly evident in cases where the deceased has assets in more than one country e.g. in both England and Spain. The applicable Law for the Inheritance / Succession will be determined after considering the ‘habitual residence’, ‘nationality’ and ‘domicile’ of the deceased. The difference between applying Spanish or English Law to the succession could result in an appallingly different outcome, because under Spanish Law the deceased has the mandatory legal obligation to leave at least 2/3rds of the estate to his children; whilst if the applicable Law is English Law then normally the assets will be divided between the heirs, freely chosen by the testator or testatrix.
Another classic example of interaction between both systems is the (many times ignored) fact that all British (English) Wills are revoked by marriage - which is not the case under Spanish Law. So a British citizen who had a Spanish Will drafted in accordance with his National Law but marries afterwards should know that the heirs appointed in the Will (drafted before the marriage) may not exactly be the persons receiving the Inheritance, as the Will would have been revoked by marriage.
From the above examples it can be clearly seen that it is vital to have an excellent professional knowledge of both legal systems in order to be able to provide correct advice to both Spanish and British citizens.
The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.
This article is available in English and Spanish at our Web site: www.white-baos.com
White & Baos
Carlos Baos (Lawyer)
Tel: +34 966 426 185
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