Successions in Andorra
1 - How can I pass on my assets while I’m still alive?
I can pass on my assets while I am alive by means of a sale (if passed on against payment), an exchange (if made against another asset) or a donation inter vivos (free of charge). During your lifetime, you can dispose of your assets, either totally or in part, in exchange for something (sale-purchase, exchange) or free of charge (donation).
To avoid difficulties and to be sure that the transfer, be it free of charge or not, is known to all and recorded in the registers (land, property, etc.), it is by far preferable to consult a notary, who can advise you before, during and after the act, draft and store it, being sure that you have made all the notifications established by Law (Land Registers, Property Register, Register of Investments, etc.).
2 - Can I retain some rights associated with the assets I give away? Can I reserve a right of reclaim?
The transferor may retain some rights (to use and enjoy the assets, such as usufruct, either fully or in part) or retain the right to reclaim them, known technically as “right of pre-emption”.
It is the owner of the assets who decides how, to whom and at what conditions he intends to transfer assets.
Ultimately, one can decide to pass on assets or not, to do so against payment or free of charge, to transfer them totally or in part, retaining some rights and prerogatives or not.
3 - How can I make sure my children are treated equally?
To make sure children are treated equally, while the transferor is alive or after his/her death, it is advisable to leave them the same sum of money or comparable assets, with or without the possibility of compensating between them.
To this end, it is advisable to leave your children as heirs entitled to equal shares, assigning assets and rights to each.
However, this solution may lead to arguments between the two based on the idea that the assigned assets are not equivalent to those left to the others.
If the inheritance consists of money only, it is quite easy to divide it equally among the heirs. However, ultimately, anything can be converted into money.
4 - Can I help one of my children without this reducing his/her share in the inheritance?
Of course. In Andorra there is great testamentary freedom. An Andorran may freely bequeath up to three quarters of his/her inheritance, the remaining fourth however must be left mandatorily to the testator’s children.
So, you can leave far more to one child than another.
A child (or someone else: the spouse or partner, for example, but also one or more third parties), can flatly receive, without any impediments, 75% of the estate, in addition to his/her legal portion.
5 - Can I influence the effects of the donation on the succession?
Yes, you can influence the effects of the donation on succession, by specifying at the time of the donation that it is or is not part of the legal portion of the estate (i.e., that this donation is or is not part of the portion reserved by law to the children or legal heirs). So, the donation can either be an advance on the inheritance assigned to the children by law, or an additional share besides the legal portion.
6 - Can I give my assets directly to my grandchildren?
Of course, you can give assets to grandchildren, but this donation does not affect the children’s right to receive their legal portion.
So, if you give assets to a third party, this donation does not affect the children’s right to receive the net quarter of the inheritance.
7 - How can I protect my spouse or partner?
The spouse or partner, like any other person, can be the sole beneficiary of the inheritance, that is to say, of three quarters of the inheritance that can be disposed of freely.
When drawing up a will, a person can freely dispose of his/her assets up to this limit of 75%.
On the other hand, however, if you want to leave assets to your children, you can give the spouse or partner the right of usufruct of all or part of the assets, that is to say the right to use and enjoy them. So, the spouse may enjoy the assets for a given period of time or until his/her death, according to the testator’s will, the children however being the owners.
At the death of the spouse or partner at the latest, the use of the assets is passed on to the owners, i.e. the children.
8 - Can my children renounce the inheritance in advance?
No, in Andorra it is not possible to renounce inheritance in advance, prior to the death of the owner of the assets.
Any renouncement of this type will be considered null and void.
However, it is possible to renounce after the death of the owner of the assets.
In this case, you can have all the possible information on the assets, debts, charges on the property or rights, etc., because once the owner has died, he/she can no longer change his/her estate.
1 - How do I draw up my will?
In Andorra you can choose between two types of will: the notarised will or the holograph will (the holograph will is written by the same testator, mentioning explicitly the date and place in which it was drafted).
The notarised will may be either open (i.e. drafted by a notary according to the testator’s wishes, who signs it) or sealed (that is to say drafted by the testator or a third party, signed by the testator on all the pages and filed with a notary).
In the case of an open will, the fact that it is drawn up by an expert professional (the notary) provides guarantees (not only, but also pecuniary).
Moreover, notarised wills (open or sealed) are entered directly in the Register of Wills.
The holograph will has to be authenticated by the judicial authorities and included in the notary’s records, before being entered in the Register of Wills.
2 - How can I be sure it will be applied?
If the will is notarised (open or sealed), and therefore entered immediately in the Register of Wills, it can be easily found and applied.
Holograph wills are not registered.
They may or may not be found after the testator’s death.
Furthermore, once found within 4 years since the testator’s death, it has be checked by the judicial authorities in terms of form, contents and authenticity. Afterwards, it is sent to the notary who includes it in his/her records and notifies the Register of Wills.
3 - How can I find a will that has been filed with a notary?
It is very easy because the notary notifies the Register of Wills immediately, regardless of whether the will is open or sealed, as both are notarised wills.
As to holograph wills, as mentioned previously, within 4 years since the testator’s death, they have be checked by the judicial authorities in terms of form, contents and authenticity. Afterwards, they are sent to the notary who includes them in his/her records and notifies the Register of Wills.
4 - Which law can I choose?
Andorrans cannot choose the Law governing their succession.
The Succession Law applicable to their succession will always be the national law of the testator, excluding exceptional cases in which the testator has closer and manifest ties with another State.
5 - Can I favour a particular heir (are there restrictions)?
You can favour one or more heirs or even third parties freely, with the exception of the legal portion – 25% of the inheritance – which is divided equally amongst the children or, if there are none, the parents.
Under Andorran law there are no other restrictions to this regard.
6 - How can I favour my spouse or partner?
In the same way as you favour an heir or anyone else.
However, it is advisable to assure some protection to the person who has spent his/her life with you and has perhaps helped you accumulate your wealth.
Furthermore, since in Andorra the default matrimonial regime is the separation of property, it is always necessary to take this into due account when arranging your succession.
For example, if you do not wish to leave three quarters of the inheritance, that can be disposed of freely, to your spouse, you can at least allow the latter to use and enjoy all or part of the inheritance (usufruct), or at least the family home, throughout his/her lifetime (or as long as he/she does not form a stable couple with somebody else).
7 - Can I disinherit someone?
Since in Andorra you can leave three quarters of the inheritance to whoever you wish without limitations, disinheriting somebody in our country simply implies not leaving anything to those who are entitled to the remaining quarter as established by law (children, grandchildren or parents).
To disinherit someone, in this sense, you have to provide a sufficient justification, according to the law, such as mistreating the testator, his/her descendants or ancestors or his/her spouse or partner.
8 - Can I make my last will jointly with someone else?
Andorrans cannot make a will jointly, neither in Andorra nor abroad, even if the law of the foreign country permits this.
However, you can draw up succession agreements among spouses or future spouses or persons living together permanently as a couple, or parents and grandparents or children and grandchildren.
1 - How are intestate successions regulated by law?
In Andorra intestate succession applies when a person passes away without having designated a sole heir, or if the designated heir(s) as such cannot inherit.
However, if an heir is not the sole heir, but inherits some assets or rights only, then an intestate succession is opened for the portion of the estate that has not been bequeathed.
In an intestate succession, the assets are passed, in order, to the children, grandchildren, the spouse or partner, ascendants, collaterals and lastly the State of Andorra.
2 - Are there particular regulations for specific objects?
In Andorra there are particular regulations for assets acquired by donation within the family (“reserved assets”); in this case, if there is no will or succession agreement, these assets are returned to the family they come from, in the absence of descendants.
3 - How can I find out if the succession procedures have already been initiated?
In Andorra, the only way of knowing whether succession procedures have already been initiated is to ask an Andorran notary, providing a certificate of death and justifying one’s interest.
The Andorran notary (or the foreign notary through an Andorran colleague) will request this information from the Register of Wills where all this information is centralised.
4 - How can the heirs to the deceased be identified?
The heirs of the deceased are identified by their names and surnames, according to their official ID documents.
However, for reasons of safety and legal guarantee, other information is also collected and examined that help better identify heirs: dates of birth, personal document numbers, who they are married to, place of residence and other details.
5 - How can I prove that I am the heir?
To prove you are the heir, you need to have either a copy of the last will (the notary will provide you one in this case) or, if there is no will, a legal declaration that you are the legal heir.
One of these documents accredits the person who should be the heir, but you become an heir only after having accepted the inheritance.
6 - Are there priority heirs? Is there a reserved portion for certain people?
Certainly, in Andorra there is what we call “the legitime”, that is to say that portion of the inheritance that the law necessarily reserves to the heirs designated by law (hence the name: “legitime”, meaning the legal portion of the inheritance, i.e. attributed by law).
These rightful heirs are the children and grandchildren, descendants and, in their absence, the ascendants, unless they have wronged the testator, his/her ascendants or descendants or the spouse or partner.
The reserved portion of the inheritance is one quarter of the estate.
7 - Do I inherit the debts?
As in most legal relations, there is a concurrence of wishes in a succession. It is not sufficient to have a will or a statement of being an heir: you have to accept it too.
After accepting, it is clear that you also inherit things such as debts, excluding the case where the heir asks for the benefit of inventory or the creditors (of the deceased or the heir) ask for the separation of assets.
8 - What happens when there are minor children among the heirs?
Minor children always accept the inheritance with the benefit of inventory.
A judicial authorisation is needed to renounce heritage on behalf of minor children.
This is also needed to dispose of inherited assets, not of daily use or ordinary value, assigned to a minor child, unless explicitly authorised by the testator in his/her will.
9 - Can the surviving spouse inherit?
The surviving spouse can inherit, like any other person.
Normally, the surviving spouse or partner is either the main heir, or will be entitled to use all or most of the estate throughout his/her life (usufruct), especially the family house.
10 - How are the inventory and evaluation of the deceased’s assets carried out?
The inventory has to be formalised by means of a notarised act or a document drafted by the judicial authorities.
The inventory has to include all the inherited assets and rights, including debts.
Creditors or other persons interested in the inheritance may also be involved in carrying out the inventory.
The legatees cannot take action against the inheritance while the inventory is being made, in the six months following notification of the testator’s death.
11 - What are my obligations if I accept an inheritance?
In accepting the inheritance, the obligations are to pay debts and fulfil the duties of the deceased, excluding personal ones.
It is also necessary to fulfil inheritance-related charges, such as settling legacies and other matters.
In some ways, the personality of the deceased persists in the person of the heir, who acquires the assets and rights tied to the inheritance, but who also has to fulfil all the duties of the deceased, including those established by the deceased in his/her will.
12 - Is it possible to renounce an inheritance or accept it under benefit of inventory?
An inheritance can be freely accepted or renounced.
You can also accept it with the benefit of inventory.
The benefit of inventory means that there is no confusion of assets between those of the deceased and those of the heir, and that the debts and charges tied to the inheritance will be paid only using the estate and rights that are part of the inheritance, and not with the assets of the heir prior to the testator’s death.
13 - How do we administer and divide up the assets if there is more than one heir?
If there is more than one heir, the inheritance can remain undivided or partitioned amongst the heirs.
No heir is obliged to keep assets undivided against his/her will, unless the testator has established this or the same heir has agreed on this previously with the other heirs.
When dividing up assets, the will of the deceased is followed first and foremost, as established by him/her or through a “partitioner” appointed by the testator.
It is also possible to come to a solution in agreement with all the heirs, or refer the matter to arbitration or, ultimately, to a court.
The outcome of the partition has to comply with the testator’s wishes. Otherwise, compensation among heirs will be necessary to achieve what the deceased sought for.
Paying inheritance tax
1 - How are succession duties calculated? What is the tax rate for succession duties/ Does tax regulation provide for a tax-free threshold? for the children? for the spouse? for someone not directly related to the deceased? other? When is the tax due?
In Andorra there is absolutely no tax on successions and likewise no tax on donations inter vivos.
As a result, there are no issues tied to calculations, rates, deadlines and other matters to be considered to this regard.