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How to draft a will in Spain without a notary

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How to draft a will in Spain without a notary
You are entitled to write a 'testamento ológrafoso' (holographic will), which basically means it is drafted and signed entirely (by hand) by the testator alone, without witnesses or a notary. Photo: Pixabay.

In Spain it's perfectly legal to draft and write your own will without the help of a notary, but there are a few requirements. Here's everything you need to know.


In Spain, a notary is a legal professional who essentially oversees, organises and approves (by signing and stamping) documents to make sure that paperwork is ready to be sent to courts or land registry or whatever other official body it might be.

One of their main responsibilities is writing up wills and last testaments, making sure they are legally binding, and that they include everything required to be approved and make sure the inheritance process goes smoothly. Generally speaking, notaries in Spain will charge roughly between €40 and €100 to write up a will, depending where you look.

READ ALSO: Five things Britons need to know about inheritance tax in Spain

Although getting a notary's services are recommended, especially in a foreign country with a different legal system, and especially so in a different language, it is perfectly legal and proper to write up your own will in Spain without the oversight of a notary, so long as it meets a number of requirements.


According to Barcelona-based legal group Balcell's, in Spain there are generally two types of wills: an open will, and a closed will. Open wills are always signed before a notary and witnesses, usually three in Spain, whereas a closed will is kept confidential between the testator and notary.

But you are perfectly within your rights to draft your own will without a notary, and there are certain sets of circumstances that might force you to: if the testator is close to death, and could realistically die in the very near future whether it be because of an accident or serious illness, or due to some kind of catastrophic event that means the will must be drafted immediately.

Imminent death and catastrophes aside, there's also a third type of will in Spain that allows you to draft it yourself, whatever reason.

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This is known as a testamento ológrafoso (holographic will), which basically means it is drafted and signed entirely (by hand) by the testator alone, without witnesses or a notary - so long as it meets a few requirements.

The Local breaks them down below.

Requirements to draft a will in Spain without a notary

  • The person writing the will must be of legal age, that is 18 years old at the time of signing.
  • The document must be written and signed by the person leaving the inheritance and nobody else.
  • It must clearly indicate the date it was written, including day, month and year. 
  • If anything in the will has crossed-out or corrected, it must rectified under the signature at the bottom of the document, though most notaries and lawyers recommend redrafting the document.
  • As a foreigner in Spain, you are within your legal rights to write your last will and testament in your native language if you wish.


  • The document must be entirely handwritten, including the date, which can be written in number or letter form.
  • The signature must be that of the testator themselves, not anybody else signing on behalf, or using any other method such as digital signatures or fingerprints. 
  • The will must be signed on every page and at the end of the document.
  • Once the will has been drafted, the testator must sign it and keep it safe in order to prevent damage or suspicion (fingerprints, scuffs) that the document has been tampered with, something that could lead to the annulment of the will and cause a whole host of legal problems for the named heirs.
  • You cannot rewrite, modify, or expand anything in the will once it has been signed, and making alterations after it has been signed would make the will invalid.
  • Once the testator has died, the will must be taken to a notary within 5 days in order to be processed.

Our journalists at The Local are not legal experts, and it is always recommended that you seek proper legal advice before considering drafting your own will.


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