Of the 142,013 inheritances that were processed during the first half of 2020, marked by the blow of the health and economic crisis and the first major confinement, a total of 15,992 were rejected, 11.3%. It is about of the highest percentage of resignations since the General Council of Notaries collects these data, in 2007, and means adding two tenths to the 2019 statistics, which closed with 47,422 rejected inheritances out of 426,801 (11.1%), and half a percentage point to that of 2018 (10.8%).
The effects of the coronavirus crisis on this phenomenon, however, will still take a few months to be perceived, explains José Luis Lledó, vice president of the General Council of Notaries and dean of the Notarial Association of Andalusia. The reason is that inheritances are processed approximately between 6 and 12 months after death, so it will not be until the end of the year when the figures related to deaths derived from the first wave are known.
What the statistics do reveal, however, are the effects of confinement and social containment measures on the number of inheritances processed. Thus, while 2019 closed the year with almost 427,000 managed estates, the first half of the year leaves a figure three times less. All in all, the evolution of recent years suggests that when the 2020 data is fully known, the percentage of withdrawals will continue to grow. Without going any further, in 2019, in relation to the beginning of the historical series, the number of rejections increased 329%.
As Lledó points out, despite the fact that resignations grow year after year, notaries do not find an unequivocal explanation of why this trend. Everything suggests that the main reason is in the existence of debts, “When the successor knows or foresees that behind the legacy there will be obligations or liabilities”. Debt related to the real estate sector, he adds, is usually the most common. However, it states, as the real causes are not collected, it is impossible to affirm with certainty that this is the reason.
Behind the rejections, he continues, there is also usually tax explanations, since inheritances are taxed under the inheritance tax, managed directly by the autonomous communities. In many cases, especially when the transfer occurs between relatives with a lesser degree of closeness – such as uncles and nephews, cousins or collateral relatives – and the tax is higher than in the case of direct descendants, “the heir is not compensated accept taking into account the final amount you receive ”.
The autonomous management of successions and bonuses imposed by the respective governments It has also served many times to try to explain the enormous difference in resignations between some regions and others, with Navarra as the area in which they were accepted the most during 2019 (92.4%), and Asturias as the one with the least (82 ,3%).
However, as the spokesperson for the notaries recalls, it cannot be said that there is a categorical relationship between regional taxes and the degree of waivers. Madrid, Andalusia, Murcia, Cantabria and La Rioja, for example, pay almost entirely – 99% – this tax. However, the percentage of resignations in La Rioja and Andalusia (15% and 14% respectively) is similar to that of the Balearic Islands. In Aragon or Galicia, where there are not such high bonuses, the rejection rate is one of the lowest in Spain, around 8%.
Another of the conclusions that the statistics give off is the very low weight that the figure of the acceptance for benefit of inventory, a mechanism by which the heir responds to the debts contracted only with the assets that are part of the legacy itself, without putting their previous assets at risk. “It is something that notaries usually recommend, but that few people know,” says Lledó. Based on the 2019 data, of the more than 426,000 inheritances processed, only 853, 0.2% took advantage of this figure, in line with 0.19% in the first half of 2020.