Inheritance Renunciation in Spain – Introduction

The renunciation of Inheritance is not only legal but, in many circumstances, the only option for many heirs.

It is part of the natural cycle of life, being born, growing, reproducing, and dying. Death is one of the most important, complicated, and hard cycles both for the successor himself and for his relatives, since death closes the last stage of the natural cycle. It is one of the most complicated cycles that a person must face.

The successor in title in general during the years and prior to his death (not knowing the moment in which he will leave this world) has been granting a will, revoking the previous one for a new one and so on until the moment of his death, with the sole objective of “trying” to tie all the loose ends and make subsequent efforts as easy as possible for his heirs.

The testator grants a will (whether closed, holographic, or in any of the legally provided ways) distributing his assets according to what would be his last will, trusting that the heirs will comply with his last will without disputes arising between those called to the inheritance.

Factors to Consider at the time of Inheritance Renunciation

A couple of factors of great interest must be considered.

  • The first factor is that inheritance is not transmitted free of charge, but rather, heirs must pay taxes on the assets he/she inherited. And the amount will vary depending on the value of the inherited, the autonomous community in which it is located, etc.·
  • The second factor, not only assets, patrimony and capital are inherited, but the heirs can also be called upon to inherit debts and charges. In this case, it would be possible to renounce an inheritance with debts.

The two factors exposed above, among many others, often encourage those called to inherit to decide to renounce the share that corresponds to them. It is possible to give up an inheritance with debts. And it is at this moment that many questions arise, such as: Can I resign in favor of another heir? If I resign, can my descendants accept the inheritance? What documentation do I need to provide to renounce an inheritance? Do I have to pay for the management of the resignation? How long do I have to resign?

Before delving into the above issues, we must be clear about the basic concepts.

Basic Concepts – Inheritance Renunciation

We understand by inheritance, the set of assets acquired by a person because of the death of another. This includes both assets and rights and obligations. Being that the heirs can always accept, renounce or repudiate the inheritance.

These rights are individual, each heir can exercise it alone. Now that we are aware that an inheritance is made up of both rights and obligations (and both assets and debts can be transmitted), we must understand what it implies and what is the difference between repudiating and renouncing.

Repudiation is the legal act through which an heir shows his will not to accept the inheritance of the successor. While the renunciation, it does involve the transfer to a third party. In other words, to renounce, the inheritance had to be previously accepted, in this legal act the beneficiary assigns both rights and obligations to a third party, that is, to another person.

One of the big differences between renunciation and repudiation is also of a tax nature. Since the heir renounces, the heir (that renounces) is required to pay inheritance tax and the new beneficiary will pay tax corresponding to the assets/patrimonial increase.

Can I renounce in favor of another heir?

It is possible to renounce an inheritance in favor of another heir. In the cases in which it is renounced in favor of another person, the legal act of resignation as such does not take place, but rather a tacit acceptance of the inheritance. The assumptions of tacit acceptance are valued in our Civil Code from article 1,000:

  • When one of the heirs sells, donates or assigns his right.
  • When the heir resigns, in favor of one or more of his co-heirs.
  • When the heir resigns in exchange for a price, in favor of one, several or all of his co-heirs.

If I resign, can my descendants accept the inheritance?

In relation to the transmission of hereditary rights, we understand that it is a personal and non-transferable right, so once the inheritance is waived by the call to inherit, the descendants of the latter will not be able to exercise the contrary right. If not, with the heir who renounces the right ends.

What documentation do I need to provide to renounce an inheritance?

The documents to renounce an inheritance are:

  • Valid National Identity Document of the heir.
  • Death certificate of the successor.
  • Certificate of last wishes of the deceased.
  • Authentic copy of the last valid testament or certificate of declaration of heirs.


Do I have to pay any fees if I renounce the inheritance?

Unlike sales contracts or holographic wills that can be executed in a private document, the legal act to formalise the renunciation of an inheritance must be formalised in a public deed before a notary or could also be carried out through the courts. This is established in article 1008 of the Civil Code.

The cost involved will depend on notary fees, however, in general, it should rage a figure of €150.

How long do I have to renounce an inheritance?

There is no established legal term to accept or renounce an inheritance. Although, taking into account the taxes to be paid if the inheritance is accepted, it is advisable to resign before the voluntary term for the liquidation of the Inheritance and Gift Tax expires.



We trust that this publication will help you to understand the basic concepts about the process of acceptance, renunciation and repudiation of an inheritance in Spain and we remain at your complete disposal for any questions regarding this publication of general application. For more information published in Spanish you can visit all our publications in this link as well as the videos in Spanish of our director Maria Rubert.