following information assiduously gathered together by Gaye Keep, John Pinnell and Lisa Fowler Pérez to all of whom we are extremely grateful.
Death and Inheritance
JP Notes drafted 12/3/2013
England & Wales are “odd” – Andorra is “normal” – if you are European, that is.
NORMAL RULES IMPLY:
– There is a central registry of wills,
– You can leave assets to who you want
– Inheritance tax, where it exists, is paid by the heirs
– There is no such thing as an executor
– The role of a notary is crucial to everything
WHAT TO DO
– What passport do you hold?
– Where are you resident and where are you domiciled
– Is inheritance tax important to you?
– Is leaving assets to who you want to important to you?
– What assets do you have and in which legal domicile are they located?
– UK Passport but England & Wales (not Scotland which is different)
– Resident in Andorra and (I think) domiciled here too
– I see no reason to pay any inheritance taxes
– I want to decide who my assets go to – even to my cat
– Although my house is here, my savings are not.
LANGUAGE AND LAW
– Andorra only works in Catalan, whatever you start out with the legal answer is always in Catalan
– Whatever you possess here is subject to Andorran laws
– Whatever you possess anywhere else is subject to the local law of the country where it is and dealt with in its language
– You cannot do everything in English
THE VITAL LINK
– Almost anything can be done using a legal document that is officially translated and apostilled
– BUT what has to be found to be translated and apostilled depends on the country where you want to use it
– Do you know what an apostille is?
– Generally speaking if you die intestate you risk having to apply the law of succession in the country where an asset is located
– In some countries (eg France, for real estate) you have to apply their laws whether or not you have a valid will anywhere
– Generally speaking a valid will can be enforced anywhere once turned into a legally enforceable document and apostilled
– As there is no central registry of wills they are never likely to be recognised outside the UK without a grant of probate to an executor who then has an absolute Power of Attorney to enforce the terms of the will
– To get probate in the UK you must first get Nottingham IHT office to sign off and the executor really needs to be UK resident
– The standard IHT form has to be at least partially completed by the executor who takes legal responsibility for its veracity
– It makes sense for most people to have an Andorran will covering all their assets if they plan to die here (but not if you have a trust or other special vehicle)
– The will should best be in Catalan and an “open” will (ie one that the notary has read)
– A valid will can only be made in front of a notary and must be registered here by him/her.
– So far Andorran notaries all allow foreigners to make wills that respect the inheritance rules of the country of passport and do not require that Andorran rules be followed
– Andorran inheritance rules pass most assets equally to any children and then on down and up to relatives and not to the spouse
– They do no recognise unmarried couples so far
– You can only leave assets to a legal person (ie not to an animal; not to the English church as it is not a registered entity; etc.)
– You can name an executor and at least one notary insists on that (most Andorrans do not have an executor)
– The beneficiaries are the ones who have to come to “accept” their legacy
INHERITING IN ANDORRA
– Assuming an Andorran will
– The beneficiaries have to accept the inheritance – physically or via a POA translated and apostilled to a third party
– The deed of acceptance is the key to getting assets unlocked – it is a public deed accepted by the beneficiaries which binds in the will and the death certificate
PUBLIC DEED OF ACCEPTANCE
– This is an absolute document – what it says goes and it is what banks and notaries expect to see from an Andorran
– It works perfectly well in France or Spain too, as they have very similar systems
– It works elsewhere also – equivalent to using a grant of probate in the UK except that it is given to the beneficiaries themselves
– See the write up about Dying in Andorra on the International Club website
– For many things the death certificate is all that is needed (so have many copies)
– Fees are charged for changing things (eg for getting the Comu census, changing the electricity bill)
– Use the Deed of Acceptance with banks and for passing title to property
– It all depends …..
– Often the death certificate will work (eg UK joint bank accounts, joint investment accounts) even with a translation
– Strictly they can ask for the Deed of Acceptance and all content officially translated into their language and apostilled
– And that may be only the start
– Jersey law appears to require that a Jersey lawyer take the documents and apply via the court for probate locally before the asset can pass
– Isle of Man has a much simpler process which can be started online
– Spain (at least Cataluna) will take the whole pack in Catalan and work with it
– Each country is different and often difficult
– Limited the number of countries where you hold assets
– Consider as far as possible holding them in joint names
– Find out the specific local rules and get out of countries that are too difficult and the assets of limited value
– At all times keep a full list of assets and their location and think about the consequences.
The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille convention, or the Apostille treaty is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law . It specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. Such a certification is called an apostille (French : certification). It is an international certification comparable to a notarisation in domestic law, and normally supplements a local notarisation of the document.
Apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities designated by the government of a state which is party to the convention. A list of these authorities is maintained by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Examples of designated authorities are embassies, ministries, courts or (local) governments. In the United Kingdom , all apostilles are issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Milton Keynes .
The apostille itself is a stamp or printed form consisting of 10 numbered standard fields. On the top is the text APOSTILLE, under which the text Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961 (English: Hague Convention of 5 October 1961) is placed. In the numbered fields the following information is added:
1. Country …….Andorra
This public document
1. has been signed by
2. acting in the capacity of Notary Public
3. bears the seal/stamp of Court of
4. at High Court
5. the … [16th Apr.2014]
6. by … [the governor of the country/ NP ]
7. No … 
8. Seal/stamp … [of the authority giving the apostille] #.Signature
The information can be placed on the (back of the) document itself, or attached to the document as an allonge .
Four types of documents are mentioned in the convention:
– court documents
– administrative documents (e.g. civil status documents)
– notarial acts
– official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.
WHEN SOMEONE DIES IN ANDORRA
AT HOME: Call a general doctor. They will come around and confirm the death and prepare the certificate of confirmation. Unless they decide an autopsy is needed. If the death occurs outside surgery hours, dial 116.
You also need to inform a funeral company directly.
If the person dies outside of Andorra you need to obtain a death certificate from the country the person died in. Get as many as possible as they are useful for later.
IN HOSPITAL: A certificate of confirmation of death is issued by the duty doctor. The “on duty” funeral company will take the body to the hospital mortuary, but it is not necessary to use them for anything else if you do not wish.
In both cases the funeral company will need to see both the passport and residency card of the person deceased. They will also need the ‘confirmation of death’ certificate.
THE FUNERAL: It is customary for funerals to take place 48 hours after death, but this is not necessary. The English Speaking Church of Andorra has experience to help the bereaved make appropriate decisions. Different types of funeral service can be organized for a fee.
CREMATION OR NICHE: Cremation is now quite common in Andorra. A local burial can be arranged in a tomb called a “niche”. This is normally reserved for a number of years and then the remains are removed. There are certain restrictions for buying a niche, but everyone is allowed to hire one for a period of time. The last information I had, this was for 6 years. If for some reason the rent is no longer paid, the remains are placed in a common grave. The important thing is if a remaining spouse also wishes to be buried in Andorra, then they have to buy or rent a double niche when the original spouse dies.
Following the funeral service it is customary for the family to accompany the body to the cemetery for burial or to the crematorium for the cremation, but the funeral company can also do this.
WAKE: Receptions are normally organised in a local hotel. It is possible to organise a non religious funeral ceremony and reception at the same location.
PAPERWORK: The most important thing is forward thinking. The more organisation beforehand, the less problems afterwards. Let someone know where you keep your passport and residency card.
If you are a passive resident, but have not paid the passive resident deposit:
The spouse that is left behind will have to hand in both residency cards and CASS cards.
The bank usually takes control of/freezes the deceased’s bank account, so if this is a joint account, this also is taken over. Mora Banc do not freeze the bank account.
Regarding CASS, see PART III.
The remaining spouse has to re-apply for residency even if they have a valid permit.
They will have to prove that they have 300% of the minimum salary – currently 35,000€ in the bank account. This amount is needed for a sole person.
The first thing to do is to change the name on the bank account, then it is possible to change the direct debits to this account. The death certificate, passport and residency card will be needed for this.
Lisa Anne Fowler
Tel: Mobile + 376 328545
Read the Notes on the ICA website.
The death certificate, residencia and passport of both the deceased and the survivor are generally required for almost all processes so have them with you at all times. If the residencia or passport of the deceased is taken off you then first get a copy made by your Notary which is signed and stamped as a true copy.
There are two sorts of death certificates, a short one with minimum detail but which is good for sending overseas to banks etc. and a longer one containing the where and when of death, family details and address, which is needed locally by banks.
In general avoid telling banks etc. about the death until you have thought through the consequences – it is better to stop and think than to find that an account can no longer be accessed until it is formally changed to the name of the survivor!
CASS [Caixa Andorra de Seguretat Social]
Assuming the husband dies first (and the wife is on “his” residency as a dependent):
1. CASS takes away both CASS cards (husband’s and wife’s)
2. Wife pays for all her medical treatment in the meantime but retains the bills.
3. CASS requires a certified copy of the marriage certificate. Not a copy at the time of marriage but a Certified Copy from the country where the marriage took place dated not long after the deceased’s death. Easily done in the UK but not so easy in places like Hong Kong, Nigeria, etc. Reputed to cost nearly £200 for the Certified copy versus ￡9.25 online for the normal copy in the UK. [We have known an Andorran lawyer who got around this formality].
4. With Certified Copy in hand go to CASS on their 2nd Floor and the widow will in due course be given back her CASS card.
5. Present any medical bills that were incurred in the meantime for reimbursement.
Joint bank accounts may be “frozen” by some banks. when informed of the death of one of the account holders until the survivor has a valid residence permit and the bank is satisfied that the account may pass to the survivor after seeing either an Andorran deed of inheritance or a valid and officially translated foreign deed of probate. Meanwhile the bank will only pay out for the normal things like electricity, insurance, heating and fuel and certainly not for any personal expenses of the surviving spouse.
RESIDENCY WITHOUT HAVING PAID THE PASSIVE RESIDENCIA DEPOSIT
Assuming the husband dies first:
At the husband’s death much happens at short notice:
• you lose residencia (as you have been classed as a “dependent”)
• you lose CASS (as you have been classed as a dependent)
• Bank may take control of your joint account and tell you what they will pay out for (not all banks act the same)
For those couples who did not pay the Residencia Deposit, the Immigration Dept. requires that the widow produces a bank certificate letter showing that she satisfies the minimum income requirement under the Immigration law before she can acquire a residence permit in her own name. The law requires evidence of a minimum annual income equivalent to 3x the national minimum wage (currently that means about €34,000) but banks will generally give the certificate if the person has at least that amount at the time the certificate is requested in their bank account or as locally owned investments It has been known for €35,000 to be paid into the widow’s account, the letter to be written, and then the money returned to the lender.
Note – where a couple has taken out separate residence permits then this problem does not arise – the problem arises where the wife has been given a permit as a “dependent” of the deceased.
WHEN A PASSIVE RESIDENT DIES IN ANDORRA …
For this scenario a Passive Resident is defined as someone who has paid the €30,000 fee ( or current higher equivalent) to become a resident of Andorra.
All the points above about residence are applicable – but there is the added complication of recovering the deposit paid by the deceased as well as making a new one for the survivor.
To recover the deposit a “No Debts” certificate is required by Immigration – and that takes some effort to obtain:
“NO DEUTE or NO DEBTS”
This is the document that is required to get the return of the passive residency fee. Note that some of the documentation is only valid for three months.
This is a form from the widow/widower asking the Battle (Judge) for a certificate of “No Debts” on behalf of the deceased.
This is the form used by Children / Executor asking for permission to collect the certificate of No Debts. Only required if children are doing the process.
The work can also be done by a Gestoria/Agent on your behalf.
3. CERTIFICATES from the seven Comus and Utilities :
The “Documentacio per la Liquidacio del Diposit de l’Inaf” form lists:
– 7 Comus : Canillo, Encamp, Ordino, La Massana, Andorra la Vella, St Julia de Loria
and Escaldes-Engordany for certificates of having no debts – all have to give certificates regardless of where the deceased resided.
– St Julia and Canillo can give the certificate at the time of application.
All others require at least 24 hours or more which means a return trip to collect.
All Comus, except Andorra la Vella, charge between €2 and €7 for the certificate.
– Utilities: SOM (Andorra Telecom)
FEDA, Nord Andorra, etc (electricity supply to the residence)
CASS, Caixa Andorra de Seguretat Social
Govern (Servei d’Ingressos), Revenue Services
La Batllia/Judge who needs a letter written in Catalan.
Note: These certificates are only valid for three months
– Any other debts: like mortgage or loan from the bank, department store credit cards,
hospital bills must be paid or disclosed.
LA BATLLIA /Courts needs a letter written in Catalan to request the certificate of “No Debts”. This can be done by using the services of a Gestoria/Agent. Or, you can write the letter yourself.
4. With the form [Declara or Confereix] and all the Certificates above go to the
COLLEGI D’ADVOCATS d’ANDORRA
on Carrer Dr. Nequi 7, 2n G, (near the La Llacuna blue glass-clad building)
open 9-13 hrs and 15-19 hrs,
to pay two fees, a total of €90.15 (March 2014 price) in cash.
Take the Death certificate, passport, residencia, etc. with you.
5. Take the Declara/Confereix document, plus the receipt of €90 from the Collegi d’Advocats (along with passport, death certificate, residencia, etc.) to the
BATLLIA d’ANDORRA office in the Tribunal building at the back of Central carpark. Address: Av. de Tarragona 58, PB local 3, Andorra la Vella.
From the Batllia you will get the No Debts form in about 48 hours which is taken to :
6. Dolores Perez in the IMMIGRATION Building. She speaks English. tel: 872 072
Dolores will require all the documentation acquired so far.
RETURN OF THE PASSIVE RESIDENCIA DEPOSIT
On the death of the principal residencia holder (the male in most cases) the deposit (about €30,000 for most people) is returned after the above procedures have been completed. It is returned in the name of the deceased so the will and testaments should be given to the bank so that the spouse can have the cheque cleared in her name. Or, don’t close the account of the deceased.
The widow applies in her own name for a new residence permit and will pay the revised deposit of €24,040.48. (Feb 2014)
To apply for a refund and change of name a form called SOL.LICITUD DE MODIFICACIO DE L’AUTORITZACIO DE RESIDENCIA SENSE TREBALL needs to be completed.
With this form take:
– photocopy of passport (and have the original with you)
– one recent colour passport photo
– letter from the Bank stating that funds are available
– the No Debts certificate
– evidence of current valid medical insurance (standard certificate issued by Immigration to be signed by the insurance company)
It can take up to three months for this process to be completed.
CHANGE OF NAME FOR UTILITIES:
Technically the name should be changed for all Utilities which means more form filling and more payment just to change the name even though the amount probably comes from the same account. Many people have not bothered to do this.