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A FOREIGNER’ S DEATH IN SPAIN : LAWYERS

The death of a family member in Spain leaves foreign clients with many questions and concerns. Our lawyers can help you to pay inheritance taxes, claim compensations, and more.

In the death of tourists, there may be corpse repatriation problems and civil liability issues. For our law firm, a commonly seen case is one in which someone is killed in a traffic accident or in any other type of accident. In these cases, family members are entitled a compensation.

In the case of foreigners who moved to Spain to fix their habitual residence here, the most frequent problem after a death is his/her inheritance, especially how to pay the taxes for property inherited in Spain. It is common that foreigners inherit a home from their father or mother who decided to spend his/her last years of retirement in Spain. It is important to note the differences between EU citizens and non-EU citizens, especially when dealing with a tax issue. In addition, a second problem that may arise is that an heir, from Sweden or Canada for example, may not be interested in maintaining a property in a distant country, as they are unable to enjoy it. Other common problem would be if the dead has more than one will. Later, after they have accepted the inheritance, the inheritors have to do research about how they want to make it profitable, either renting it or selling it. However, a lawyer who knows the market and the law can help decide which option is best in each specific case.

It may also be that the deceased had pending legal cases or contracts of all kinds (rental, service provision, etc.) that may need to be evaluated and resolved.

Other issue related to death are those regarding pets, property other than real estate.

In any case, it is convenient to make a notarial will to regulate your assets.

ACCIDENTAL DEATH

The most frequent incident type is death by traffic accident, but other accidents also can cause death. These accidents can the fault of a third party, in which family members (such as ascendants, siblings/allegados, descendants), have the right to compensation.

Among the things that can cause an accidental death could be an accident in a shooting range, a fall in a private estate that did not take the minimum security measures, a karting accident, an accident in an amusement park, etc. There are thousands of possible causes.

Sometimes it can be a cause of shared faults in which several people have responsibility (sometimes even the deceased could have all or part of the fault). Each case must be studied carefully, since the costs are high and depend on numerous particularities (family relationship, cohabitation, number of relatives, economic dependence …).

Accidental death court procedures are usually long when the fault is not clear and in many cases these procedures begin by being processed through criminal proceedings. In Spain the criminal justice system allows individuals to file a claim for civil responsibilities as well, but if you prefer you can also pursue the civil actions outside the criminal court and thus exercise the actions in the civil court and the criminal court simultaneously.

In Spain there is an action against the one that causes death or damage and there is also a direct action against the insurance company. There is an insurance company called the Insurance Consortium/”Consorcio de Compensaicón de Seguros” that is responsible for paying compensation in some cases. For example, the Consortium might pay in death cases caused by some exceptional environmental situations.

DEATH FROM MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE

Spain is a country whose doctors and hospitals have a high prestige and there is a lot of health tourism, meaning people come to Spain to receive medical treatments. Despite the high level of professional Spaniards, we are all human and a medical malpractice situations can occur.

The process of receiving compensation is different depending on whether the negligence was committed by a private clinic within the private system or if it occurred due to a problem in the public health system. What both cases have in common is the right to compensation.

There may also be medical malpractice that does not result in death, but other injuries or compensable damages.

Generally, to assess medical malpractice damages we use the regulations applicable to traffic accidents.

We also use experts who can assess the damage to obtain the most appropriate compensation for the specific case. In the end, it is a specialist doctor who, by reviewing the work of another specialist, can give us the specific data on where the medical failures occurred and if they were avoidable, as well as how much damage they caused.

DEATH BY MURDER OR HOMICIDE: VIOLENT DEATH

Death by homicide is much less common in Spain. However, there is also the possibility of claiming compensation in case of death of a relative who has been murdered.

In this way we find a situation that generates civil but also criminal responsibilities, both of which are able to be exercised in the corresponding criminal court.

The Family members pain will not be alleviated by receiving an economic compensation. However, in many instances, families are left in economic hardship because of the death of a family member. When granting compesation, we must not only take into account emotional pain, but the serious economic damage death can cause for a family, as the loss of a family member means the loss of a salary. Given this situation, it is often necessary to claim compensation.

The problem in these cases is usually that the aggressor does not have economic means to pay the compensation.

LIFE INSURANCE

Our lawyers can help you if there is any life insurance too.

Should you require further information regarding Spanish Law, our firm can provide advice. Please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers. You can contact us by using the contact form below, emailing info@pineradelolmo.com, or by telephoning +34 93 514 39 97.

Disclaimer: This information in this article is not definitive, for up to date legal advice which is relevant to your case, please contact our lawyers directly.