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7. Why a Spanish will?

There exist a number of different ways to make a will in Spain.

Here are the main forms:

"Testamento ológrafo" is a hand-written will, completely written and signed by the testator in such a way that there can be no doubt about its authenticity. It must also contain a date of signature.

This will is a private document which is transformed to a public document after the death of the issuer. It can be kept safe or given in a sealed envelope to a person of confidence. It needs no witnesses, nor a notarial confirmation.

This form of will ensures complete confidentiality. On the other hand it may easily be forgotten or lost . Only for very valid reasons should this form of will be chosen.

"Testamento cerrado" (closed will) is also confidential, where the issuer writes it down without any person knowing its content, and thereupon placing it in a closed envelope. He may also seal the envelope and then he takes it to a notary, or the envelope is sealed in front of the notary. The notary and 5 witnesses confirm the act by signing the envelope.

The issuer of the will may keep the sealed envelope himself, give it to a person of confidence for safe-keeping or deposit it with the notary.

"Testamento abierto" (open will) is the most used form, where you tell the notary what the contents of the will shall be, or let a lawyer make it. The notary then gives it the official form and signs it together with the issuer. A report on the will is then sent to the "Registro de las Ultimas Voluntades" in Madrid. When the issuer of the will dies and before the adjudication can be made, a search must be made in the registry in Madrid to find out if a will has been registered or not . Even if no will has been registered, written confirmation from the registry in Madrid is obligatory.

According to law number 30 of 20th of December 1991 it is only mandatory to have 2 witnesses to the signing of such a will if the issuer or the notary asks for it, or if the testator cannot read what is written, if he himself cannot write or if he is mute. If the testator can express his will in Spanish or another language that the notary understands or can have translated on the spot, or if testator can understand what is written or have it translated, then witnesses are not necessary. But if the testator cannot express his will in a language the notary understands, it is necessary to use a translator to be chosen by the testator. The will must then be written in two languages and it must be made clear in the will that the testator understands the second language.



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