Death Certificates, Last Will and Testaments

The death of a relative is always a painful and stressful event in our life. The related bureaucracy does not make it any better. When we also have to deal with foreign legal systems and official translations are required, the process becomes even more disturbing and cumbersome. However, we are here to help you!

Are you in charge of registering the death of a family member or a relative in Spain? Are you required to present an official translation of a death certificate? Or, perhaps, a Last Will and Testament to manage the estate of the deceased in Spain? Are you the executor or trustee of a Last Will and Testament and need to have it translated? Are you the Attorney-in-fact appointed in a Power of Attorney and need the translation to perform your tasks in Spain?

Managing an inheritance is already complicated enough without also worrying about translations and foreign public administrations, but don’t panic! We are here to help you. The death certificate is the most important document in this process, since it is key to register the death and to initiate any estate distribution process.

Death certificates  the official, government-issued documents that certify the death of a citizen – are issued in different formats in Spain. We describe them in the following paragraphs:

  • Positive Certificate:
    • Extract: This is a summary of the information registered at the ‘Registro Civil’ (Civil Register) regarding the information related to the death. There are different kinds:
      • Ordinary: This is issued in the regions or autonomous communities (‘comunidad autónoma’) where the only official language is Spanish.
      • Bilingual: When the certificate is issued by a region or ‘comunidad autónoma’ that has its own official language, the certificate is issued in Spanish and in the official language of that region.
      • International or multilingual: This certificate is valid in the countries that have ratified the Vienna Convention of 8th September 1976. This certificate is issued in the official language of the signatory countries of that Convention (Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia, Poland, Montenegro, Moldova, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria).
    • Literal: This is a literal copy of the death registration, with all the information regarding the identity of the deceased and the circumstances surrounding the death.
  • Negative certificate: This certifies that the decease of someone is not registered at the Civil Register (“Registro Civil”).

Some other essential documents in probate procedures and inheritance management processes are the Last Will and Testament (if it exists), the Death Cover Insurance Policy Certificate, or even medical certificates in order to register the death, etc. All these documents will need an official translation, performed by an official sworn translator appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to guarantee they are complete and accurate translations of the original text.







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