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What to do if an heir refuses to sign the distribution of the inheritance


The acceptance of an inheritance is a voluntary and free act. For this reason, we often find situations in which an heir refuses to sign the inheritance distribution, citing reasons related to prudence -since sometimes inheritances come with burdens-, family conflicts or, simply, disagreement with the distribution.

In these cases, it is advisable to discuss and analyse the cause of rejection in order to try to reach an agreement. For example: opt for a partial allocation of the inheritance and sign, by mutual agreement, the distribution of a series of assets and leave those that have generated conflict for a later distribution.

However, if the dissenting heir maintains his dissenting position and refuses to sign the distribution of the inheritance, the other heirs have two options at their disposal legal tools The first of these is the notarial appeal and, as a last resort, recourse to the courts.

Accepting or refusing inheritance in Spain

Inheritance distribution in Spain can take place in two ways:

  1. If there is a will, the deceased has already decided who the heirs are.
  2. If there is no will, the law determines who the heirs are.

However, in both cases it is mandatory that all heirs express their decision to accept or renounce the inheritance. Otherwise, the law stipulates that the distribution cannot be made and the heirs must resort to the legal avenues mentioned above: notarial interpellation and going to court.

an heir refuses to sign the distribution of the inheritance

Notarial interpellation

What is notarial notarisation?

If one of the heirs refuses to sign the inheritance, any person with a legitimate interest (another heir, a legatee or a creditor) may apply to the notary for a notarial interpellation (Law 15/2015, of 2 July, on Voluntary Jurisdiction).

This procedure, which can be requested from 9 days after the death of the deceased, is the solution to unlock the inheritance and consists of the notary contacting the unwilling heir so that he/she can communicate whether he/she accepts or repudiates the inheritance.

On the other hand, the heir shall have at his disposal 30 calendar days to communicate its decision and, in the event of failure to reply within this time limitthe inheritance shall be deemed to have been accepted, even in cases where the inheritance contains more debts than assets (pure and simple inheritance).

"Any interested party who can prove his interest in the heir accepting or repudiating the inheritance may go to the notary so that the latter may inform the called party that he has a period of thirty calendar days to accept purely or simply, or with benefit of inventory, or to repudiate the inheritance". (Article 1.005 of the Civil Code).

In case of resignationThe other beneficiaries may continue with the distribution without him and his share may pass to his descendants, as the case may be. But if on the contrary, the heir accepts itIn this case, he/she must indicate whether he/she is doing so pure and simple or with benefit of inventory - in which case, he/she will not be responsible for the debts that exceed the value of the inheritance.

If after this procedure, the problems with the distribution of the inheritance continue to exist and the heir refuses to sign the partitional notebook, there will be no other option but to resort to legal action. 

Going to court for inheritance distribution

As we have seen, the notarial interpellation serves to resolve the situation in which an heir refuses to accept the inheritance, but it does not prevent other types of conflict arising in connection with the distribution of assets.

This means that if there is no agreement on the distribution of the assets, the heirs can go to court to have the judge determine which assets form part of the inheritance and how they are to be distributed. (procedure regulated between Articles 782 and 789 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

Inheritance and succession lawyer in Málaga

Each inheritance or will has its own particularities, but in any case, the danger to be avoided is that the inheritance remains blocked for a long time. for various reasons:

  • Assets subject to such an inheritance may continue to generate tax liabilities.
  • The passing of the years could affect the distribution of the inheritance and even,
  • The right to inherit certain assets may be lost.

From our Law firm specialising in inheritance and successions in Malaga, we are at your complete disposal to analyse your case in a personal, detailed and professional manner, and provide you with the best solution.

Contact us.

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