Inheritance and Succession Planning for People with No Heirs 

One of the biggest choices you have to make when it comes to Inheritance and Succession Planning is to whom exactly will you be leaving your assets to. If you do not have any obvious heirs such as children, a spouse or any other close family or friends then the decision may become somewhat more difficult to make.  

Why do I need a Will, if I have no heirs to leave my assets to? 

If this is the case for you then you may find yourself thinking, what is the point of a Will at all then? Well, if you do not have any kind of plan in place then there is a much higher chance that your fortune and other assets will be headed to somewhere you would rather, they did not go to. 

Spanish Inheritance Law 

In Spain, the law dictates how you may distribute your estate and the exact outlines vary by region. If no specific regional laws are in place, then the Spanish Civil Code applies. Under Spanish Inheritance law there are forced heirship rules. If you have no spouse or children, then it is possible to leave your assets to anyone as long as you have a proper Will in place. 

The rules for expats in Spain 

For expats in Spain, changes to European Union rules in 2015 mean that they can now choose whether the law of their home country or the law of their country of residency applies to their estate. However, in the circumstance that an expat dies without a Will but owns assets in Spain then the process for any heirs obtaining these assets can be a complex process that is required to be completed within six months. Various paperwork needs to be applied for and translated into Spanish if it is in a foreign language for this process.  

Inheritance hierarchy  

Although it varies by location the Inheritance hierarchy usually starts with spouse and children followed by grandchildren. In the case that there are none of these relatives or none that can be identified then your assets could go to siblings, parents, grandparents, any nieces, or nephews, etc. However, there is also the chance that your assets could just end up going to the state.  

When you have spent your entire life building up your savings, property, and other possessions – wouldn’t you rather give it all to the person or people of your choice?  

Alternate options 

If you do not want to leave your fortune in the hands of the state, then there are alternatives to consider. There may not be anybody you trust to leave your estate to but there are other options that you may want to consider to promote the welfare of others, such as; 

  • Charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) – often a popular choice when it comes to estate planning for high-net-worth individuals who are looking to provide for charitable causes. The donor will make a charitable contribution whilst keeping an income stream from the trust until death or another specified time. After this, the remainder of the assets will go to the charity. This option may also reduce some tax liability.  
  • Donor-advised funds (DAF) – can potentially provide a financial benefit to you and the organisations you choose to support. Upon your death the allocated money or non-monetary assets will go to the chosen fund, allowing for you to continue with your philanthropic mission even after you are gone. 
  • Private foundations – a type of organisation that is typically founded by a family member and managed by a board of trustees who may be compensated for their efforts. An option that will allow you to decide where your charitable efforts go to. 

It is essential to discuss these options with a financial adviser before putting any concrete plans into place.  

What else is there to consider? 

Apart from the delegation of your assets there are also other aspects to consider such as power or attorneys for health care or finances and a living Will that details the medical interventions you would and would not like to receive in order to keep you alive.  

It may also be necessary to name a representative to manage the administration side of things upon your death such as the distributions of assets. You may choose a financial planner to do this if there are no friends or family who you trust. 


These decisions are personal ones that you have to make but you do not have to make them alone. Speak to one of our Wealth Managers at Private Client Consultancy who will help you and provide all the information you need to make the best choice for yourself. Your mind can be put at ease in knowing that a plan is in place.