When someone dies, the law establishes that a certain amount of his or her assets must be distributed in a specific way. Do you know what is the reserved portion? What are the forced heirs? Who can inherit? We review all the keys so that you know how to determine the distribution of your assets.
Nobody wants to think about making a will or who we want to inherit our assets. We don’t want to think about it because it implies assuming that one day we will no longer be here. However, the will is one of the procedures that saves the most headaches for family members, since it records all the last wishes of a person, especially the financial ones.
If you are considering how to distribute your assets for the day you are no longer around, you must take into account a very important concept.
What is the legitimate?
By law, inheritances are divided into three parts.
The legitimate third: A part of the inheritance must obligatorily go to the forced heirs of the deceased. That implies that there is a certain amount of our assets that will go to our legitimate heirs, even if we do not want it to.
The third of free disposition: This part of the assets can be distributed as you wish and left to whomever you wish (relatives, friends, companies…).
The third of improvement: It can be destined to extend the inheritance of the descendants (children, grandchildren…), but it cannot be given to third parties.
Is the legitimate share the same throughout Spain?
It is important to keep in mind that these divisions vary depending on the autonomous community. In many regions, the three parts are equal and correspond to one third of the inheritance, but this is not general. For example, in Galicia and Catalonia the legitimate is a quarter, not a third.
Who are the forced heirs?
We cannot answer what is the legitimate without defining the forced heirs, who are those who receive it. The persons who must inherit at least that part of the deceased’s estate are:
The children and other descendants: the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren….
If there are no children or descendants, the ascendants (first the parents, then the grandparents…).
The spouse, who always inherits, even if there are descendants and ascendants. The part that corresponds to him/her is the usufruct of the estate.
The short and long legitimate
With respect to the descendants, there are two options: to distribute the third of improvement or not to do it.
As we have already explained, the third of improvement can be used to extend the inheritance of one or several of the descendants. If we want it to go entirely to one person, this person will receive what is called the long legitimate: the third of improvement plus the legitimate. The rest of the children will keep the third of the legitimate (short legitimate).
Another option is that only a part of the one-third improvement is distributed to one of the descendants. In that case, the rest is divided equally among the others.
It is also possible not to distribute the third of improvement. If we do not establish to whom we want to leave it, it will be distributed among all the descendants together with the legitimate.
The usufruct of the estate
The surviving member of the marriage can concur to the inheritance with the descendants or with the ascendants, if there are any.
It is said that the spouse receives the inheritance in usufruct because he or she has the assets for life, but they are not really his or hers. Therefore, he/she does not have the power to sell or mortgage them.
If there are descendants, the spouse will receive in usufruct a third part of the assets, namely the third of improvement.
If there are no descendants, but there are ascendants, the spouse is entitled to the usufruct of half of the inheritance.
When there are no ascendants or descendants, the spouse receives in usufruct two thirds of everything.
What if I have a partner, but we are not married?
If we want our partner to inherit our assets when we are no longer there, it is important to be a married couple. Unmarried couples have no inheritance rights. In such cases, it is best to make a will so that the couple opts at least to the third of free disposition that, by law, can be destined to non-relatives.
What about life insurance and wills?
In life insurance, a beneficiary is designated as the person who will receive the compensation money if something happens to the insured. It does not have to be a family member; they work independently of the will and the inheritance.
However, inheritance does have an influence when no specific beneficiaries are designated, with names and surnames. If there is no beneficiary or generic formulas such as legal heirs are used, the compensation money will be added to the rest of the inheritance and will be distributed according to the percentages we have already reviewed.
Therefore, the most convenient for you and your family is to write down who you want to be the beneficiary of your insurance. Keep in mind that it can be several people (or even companies or organizations), so the options are many. Likewise, in life insurance policies that include disability, you are the beneficiary, since the indemnity is also paid in the event that something happens to you and you have to apply for permanent disability.
Legitimacy, inheritance and life insurance
We have already seen what the legítima is, how it affects the distribution of assets in an inheritance and what happens if there is life insurance involved. No one wants to think about what would happen to their family’s finances if something were to happen to them, but it is a question we must ask ourselves at some point. Remember that in our comparator you can review the best offers of these policies for you and find the best price. What are you waiting for to take a look?