Living and dying in Spain


Aug 11, 2016
Living and dying in Spain

The freedom of movement within the European Union has made it easy for Brits to take jobs to live and work in Spain. Retirement to the sun and easy living in Spain is also something chosen by many British expats.   

Although the Brexit decision to withdraw from the EU has now been made, it is unlikely that changes to the freedom of movement and the lives of British residents in Spain is likely to change any time soon.   

So, the living is easy – but what if you happen to die whilst you are living in Spain?   

Death in Spain   

The short answer is that dying in Spain is for official purposes, a rather different – and potentially far more complicated – process than it is in the UK. And those complications come at a time when your family is already struggling to come to terms with their grief at your death.   

Just how complicated the official procedures are likely to be are set out in a publication by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) providing Bereavement Information for Spain. The principal differences to official procedures might be summarised as follows:

  • rather than identification by the next of kin, the identity of the deceased is more usually established with reference to documents such as a passport or driving licence
  • in case of any doubt as to identity, DNA testing or requests for assistance from foreign police forces may be made – and this make take several months to complete
  • the law requires the body to be embalmed or preserved within 48 hours of the death – and since embalming is required if the body is to be taken out of the country, this is the method typically chosen
  • if the remains are to be repatriated, the necessary documentation is required and may take 8 to 10 days to arrange
  • if the remains are not going to be repatriated, local funeral directors also need to be instructed to carry out a burial service or cremation
  • “burial” in Spain is typically in an above-ground enclosed space known as a columbarium niche
  • cremation practices are broadly similar to those found in the UK.   

Although the British consular service is able to provide a certain amount of advice regarding the death of a relative abroad, there is clearly still a lot you need to organise yourself – and all in a foreign language with which you may be completely unfamiliar.   

You also need to be aware that your bank account and assets may be frozen, meaning your next of kin will not have ready access to the money needed to organise a funeral.   

Funeral plans in Spain   

Your loved ones may avoid all of these difficulties – and likely heartache – if you buy a prepaid funeral plan to turn to if you die in Spain.   

Here at Over 50 Choices, we have partnered with Avalon Funeral Plans, who are probably the leading provider of such plans for British expats.   

With such a plan in place, the only action which needs to be taken if you or a loved one dies in Spain is to let the local representatives of the company know – and they take care of all of the documentation and paperwork, ensuring that the last wishes of the deceased and their family are respected.   

What is more, immediate cover is available, regardless of your age or health, you pay for all the funeral arrangements at today’s prices and the plan guarantees that these cover the funeral arrangements that may become necessary. 24-hour support is provided by British, English-speaking representatives in Spain.      

dying in spain

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Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

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