This communication is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute, and should not be construed as investment advice, investment recommendations or investment research. You should seek advice from a professional adviser before embarking on any financial planning activity. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information contained in this communication is correct, it is subject to change and we are not responsible for any errors or omissions.
If you are reading this and planning (or hoping) to get married, then congratulations! There is a lot of preparation to do, especially for the big day. Yet tying the knot also brings a lot of financial planning considerations to the table. It is important to prepare for these with your eyes open.
This is especially true for British expats marrying someone from abroad. The culture, tax laws and property rights associated with your (imminent) spouse may be vastly different from those in the UK. Below, our Murcia financial planners offer a short guide to help inform British expats and Spaniards who are considering marriage together.
We hope this content is helpful. If you want to discuss your financial plan with us, please get in touch to arrange a no-obligation financial consultation, at our expense:
+34 966 460 407
Getting married – legal steps
When two British people get married in the UK, the rules are not too complicated to grasp (although the conditions are not always easy to meet). In England & Wales, you both must give at least 28 days’ notice to the Register Office before the marriage.
From that point, the marriage must take place within 12 months. Both partners must be resident in these countries for at least 7 days before notice can be given, and the notice needs to state the marriage location.
Specific documents are needed to get married in the UK providing information such as name, address and details about any previous marriage(s). If your partner is Spanish, then extra information will be required such as personal ID and his/her immigration status. A marriage visitor visa should not be needed.
If you (a British expat) want to get married in Spain to a Spanish citizen, then you can do this even without a residence permit (this can be requested after the marriage). Each spouse will need specific documents to get married in Spain such as DNI, NIE or Passport, Certificate of registration, Certified copy of the birth certificate and Certificate of “Fe de Vida y Estado”.
Regardless of where it is held, make sure that your marriage or civil partnership will be recognised in both the UK and Spain. Consider getting legal advice from a family/immigration lawyer to ensure you complete all necessary steps.
All married couples need to think carefully about how they will structure and manage their finances (after all, worries and disagreements about money are a leading cause of divorce). This is even more important when British expats marry someone from Spain or another country, as you may be dealing with different currencies and diverse cultural attitudes to money.
Sit down together and discuss your financial goals. What do each of you think money is for? Is one of you a “saver” and the other a “spender”? Will both of you share responsibility for each financial task and decision, or will you divide roles in specific ways?
Will you each retain separate bank accounts, pensions and investment accounts or will you move to a “joint” structure for each? Which currencies will you be dealing with (e.g. GBP and euros) and where will your income streams be allocated?
For instance, if you plan to build up a 3-6 month “emergency fund”, will this be held in a UK account in GBP or a Spanish account in Euros? If one of you has a UK-sourced income and the other a Spain-sourced income, do you plan to move money between your respective countries? If so, how often will you do this and how can you keep needless fees down?
As a married couple comprising a British expat and a Spaniard, you not only need to consider your immediate income and expenses but also your assets and liabilities. Both of you should ask yourselves some focused questions to plan for the long term.
In particular, what happens if one of you suddenly dies? What happens to the deceased person’s property, pension(s) and other assets like cash savings? This is where international estate planning becomes important.
There may be different rules and procedures governing what happens in this scenario, depending on your home country.
Suppose two British people are married in the UK and one person dies. In 2023-24, anything jointly owned is typically passed to the surviving spouse – completely without inheritance tax (IHT). However, the rules are different in Spain.
Imagine another married couple living in Spain – a British expat and a Spaniard. One of them dies. Here, Spanish law has no concept of an “estate” for the deceased person like in the UK. Rather, all beneficiaries are liable to pay IHT (“succession tax”) in some form.
Spanish law is also less flexible than UK law when it comes to the allocation of a deceased person’s assets. In the UK, you have great control over who inherits what, when crafting a will. Yet in Spain, 50% of a deceased’s assets must go to the surviving spouse. Two-thirds of the remaining 50% needs to go to the children, with one-third left to be allocated as desired.
Seek financial advice to ensure that your estate plan for your British-Spanish marriage is robust and prepared for these kinds of rules.
If you are interested in discussing your own financial plan or inheritance tax strategy with us, please get in touch to arrange a no-commitment financial consultation at our expense:
+34 966 460 407