Why do you need a Power of Attorney when buying a property overseas?
When buying property overseas, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to give Power of Attorney to your lawyer so that they can act on your behalf with regards to the property purchase. But you may have a few questions before signing a Power of Attorney: What is a power of attorney? Why is it necessary? How much does it cost? Are there any risks involved?
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a written permission given by you to a third party giving them legal authorisation to carry out certain acts on your behalf. In terms of buying an overseas property, giving Power of Attorney to your lawyer will allow them to arrange a fiscal number for you (which is necessary in Spain, Portugal and Italy, when buying a property in these countries), set up a bank account, pay taxes and sign documentation on your behalf, for instance.
Why is it necessary to instruct a Power of Attorney when buying property overseas?
Giving your lawyer Power of Attorney is usually very practical when buying a property abroad, as it means you don’t have the expense and inconvenience of having to sign documentation in person. There can be various stages where it’s necessary to be present to sign documentation in the country you are buying a property, which can become very costly if you need to arrange flights and accommodation.
Are there any risks involved with giving someone Power of Attorney?
It’s common practice to give your lawyer with a Power of Attorney when buying a property purchase. However, ultimately you are giving someone else the legal right to act on your behalf, so there is of course an element of risk.
Anything that your attorney does on your behalf, you are legally responsible for so it’s crucial that you instruct an attorney is a reliable and reputable professional. You need to be certain that they will strictly follow your instructions and not act in their own or someone else’s interest. That is why instructing a lawyer who is regulated in accordance with their country’s requirements is advisable.
We strongly advise that you do not give Power of Attorney to an unregulated professional or individual, such as an Estate Agent. Likewise, unless you are certain that friends or family members will act in your best interests, it is not advisable to give them Power of Attorney.
How do you arrange a Power of Attorney?
Ordinarily, your foreign lawyer will usually prepare a bilingual Power of Attorney for you which then needs to be signed in the presence of a notary. This can be done either in the country for which the power is required or in your home country.
If the Power of Attorney document is signed in your home country, it may also need to be legalised with The Hague Convention Apostille by the Legalisation Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to be valid for use in the country in which it is required.
How much does a Power of Attorney cost?
You should agree the legal fee for preparing a Power of Attorney document with your overseas lawyer directly.
In addition to your lawyer’s fees, you will also need to budget for notary fees, as the document will usually need to be signed in the presence of a notary, which will usually cost somewhere in the region of £100-150 per document. As mentioned above, if it needs to be legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office there will be additional costs for this, which is usually about £30 per document.
Does a Power of Attorney expire?
You can include a time limit or an expiry date for the Power of Attorney, however, it’s usually not practical to do this. For instance, a property purchase might take longer than expected and it would be very inconvenient if the power expired before the purchase was completed. However, you can revoke the power at any time.
If you need a recommendation for an English-speaking lawyer who can assist you with buying a property in Spain, Portugal, Italy or France contact us on 01244 478911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
We can also assist with some aspects of the property buying process in Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and more!
Article published: March 4, 2019