When you begin the process of buying a property in Spain, it is usual for your lawyer to suggest that you provide them with a Power of Attorney so that they can undertaken certain actions on your behalf.

So what is a Power of Attorney? Is it necessary for your lawyer in Spain to have Power of Attorney? What are the risks of giving a Power of Attorney in Spain?

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a formal written authorisation given by you to a third party (such as your Spanish lawyer) which legally authorises them to undertake acts on your behalf.

Where a property purchaser is not living in Spain, it is usual for Spanish lawyers to suggest that they sign a Power of Attorney so that they may to deal with matters on behalf of the buyer when they are not in Spain or in the area.

A Power of Attorney will often be the most practical way of allowing your Spanish lawyer to undertake tasks and sign documents on your behalf so you don’t have the expense and inconvenience of having to attend in person to sign or authorise each part of the transaction.

For example, a Power of Attorney for the purchase of property will often be used to authorise the lawyer in Spain to open a Spanish bank account on your behalf, obtain an NIE number for you, arrange utilities in Spain, pay Spanish taxes, sign and submit forms or document to the relevant authorities and deal with any completion or post completion matters on your behalf.

It can be inconvenient for the buyer to have to deal with each of these aspects personally in Spain, especially where they live overseas so a Power of Attorney can be a practical option and is widely used for Property purchases in Spain.

What are the risks of giving someone Power of Attorney in Spain?

Giving someone Power of Attorney does involve an element of risk. By giving someone Power of Attorney you are giving someone the legal right to act on your behalf. You are responsible for all acts that your attorney does on your behalf (provided they are within the scope of the Power of Attorney) as if you had done these yourself.

It is possible to give Power of Attorney to anyone, it does not have to be a lawyer although this is most common, especially in relation to property purchases in Spain.

It is however essential that whoever you provide the Power of Attonry to is a reliable and reputable professional who will strictly follow your instructions and act with professionalism and integrity.

It is strongly advised that you do not provide a Power of Attorney to any unregulated person such as a estate agent.

What wording is included in a Power of Attorney for use In Spain?

This will depends on why the Power of Attorney is required.

If the Power of Attorney is being provided in relation to a property purchase, it is usual for the Power of Attorney to give the donor quite wide powers to enable them to deal with all aspects of the transaction including any additional or unforeseen matters that may come up during the process.

However, the scope of the power of attorney can be limited to only very specific matters if you wish. If you are uncomfortable with the wording of the Spanish Power of Attorney, you should contact the Spanish lawyer to discuss this.

Does a Spanish Power of Attorney expire?

Spansih Powers of Attorney do not expire on a set date unless a time limit or an expiry date for the Power of Attorney has been set out in the document. It is not usual for this to be included for practical reasons, for example in a property purchase in Spain there may be some complication which delays matters and it would be very inconvenient if the power expired before the purchase had completed.

The person who has given the Power of Attorney can revoke it at any time. Once the transaction for which the power was given has been completed, you should arrange to revoke the Powder of Attorney and also ask for the original Deed of Power of Attorney and any official copies that may have obtained to be returned to you.

How do you give someone Power of Attorney in Spain?

Your Spanish lawyer will usually prepare a Power of Attorney for you which should be drafted in both Spanish and English (unless you speak fluent Spanish). This must then be signed by you in front of a notary either in Spain or in the country where you will be signing it.

Your identity will need to be verified by the notary wherever the Power of Attorney is signed so you should take your passport with you when you go to the notary to sign the document.

If the Power of Attorney document is being signed with a notary in the UK, it will also need to be legalised after signing with The Hague Convention Apostille by the Legalisation Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that it will be valid for use in Spain.

How much does a Spanish Power of Attorney cost?

If the Power of Attorney has been prepared by your Spanish lawyer, the notary should only charge for witnessing the execution of the documents. The notary fees will depend on where the notary’s office is based. You Spanish lawyers will be able to give you a quote for preparing the document for you.

Where the Spanish Power of Attorney is signed in the presence of an English notary the notary charges are usually in the region of £100-150 per document.

As stated above, if the Power of Attorney is signed in the UK it will need to be legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to be valid in the country in which it is to be used.

The cost of this is currently £30 per document (if you pay online- slightly more for other payment methods). Your English notary may be able to arrange this for you however they may charge an additional fee for this which is usually around £30-40 per document.

Providing your Spanish lawyer with a Power of Attorney is a usual and practical way to allow them to deal with your Spanish property purchase. However you will need to make sure that you instruct a reputable, trustworthy and properly regulated lawyer in Spain.

For assistance to find a Spanish lawyer to assist you with your property purchase in Spain, contact Total Buying Abroad on 01244 478 911 or at info@totalbuyngabroad.com. We who will be able to put you in touch with a regulated lawyer in Spain to assist you.

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Article published: September 14, 2016