Under normal circumstances, appointing a Power of Attorney (POA) isn’t a service required by every British person buying property in Spain. However, recent events have shown just how valuable it can be to all non-resident buyers.
Since the end of January, Brexit and the countdown to the end of the transition period has disrupted the application process for NIEs and residency permits, mainly in areas popular with expats. To add fuel to the fire, Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown has slowed things up further. In most cases property transactions have been put on hold or in more advanced transactions it has become difficult for completion to take place.
A simple way to minimise the effects of unprecedented events like these is to appoint a POA – and it’s possible, even now, thanks to the ability to organise this direct from the UK.
Power of Attorney – what you need to know.
Appointing a POA works for British buyers who for practical reasons are unable, or unwilling, to travel back and forth to Spain to complete each stage of the purchase process.
Instead, using the POA, they give legally-approved authority to their independent Spanish lawyer to act on their behalf throughout their property transaction. Typically, this enables lawyers like Sun Lawyers to apply for the NIE, open your Spanish bank account, sign your purchase contract and oversee completion at the notary’s office. In short, your appointed lawyer carries out all procedures leading up to completion and beyond. You needn’t be in Spain and so there is no disruption to your normal routine. This saves money and time, especially if you are still working. Your lawyer will liaise with you at each key step along the way. As the buyer, all you will need to do post-completion is travel out to Spain at a convenient time and collect the keys to your new home.
After completion, there are formalities to complete and again your appointed lawyer can do this. When the new Title Deeds for your property are available at Land Registry (this doesn’t happen immediately on completion day), they can collect the document for you. They can also liaise with utilities companies, organise changeovers or new connections and set up Direct Debits for all your bills, including council tax. You may also wish to give them power to handle your tax affairs in Spain or, if moving over permanently, apply for your residency permit.
How to set up a Spanish Power of Attorney
After discussing your requirements, your lawyer will draft the POA document. Unless there are unexpected circumstances, the POA is a standard legal document. The POA will outline the primary powers that you are granting your lawyer, i.e. for the purchase of a property, with clauses detailing any specific activities you need to give them. Crucially, the content will contain safeguards to protect you in the unlikely event of fraudulent activity and ensure that your lawyer is given no more power than is necessary.
Once everything has been agreed, the next step is making the POA document effective under Spanish law. For this to happen, it needs to be signed and legalised by a notary. This is a simpler process if you’re in Spain as your lawyer can arrange and escort you to one of their local notaries. However it can also be done from the UK, but involves an extra step.
The way we do it, as your appointed lawyer, is to locate a British notary close to your UK home and send them the POA document for you both to sign (note, there will be proof of ID and address requirements). Because this notary is in the UK, the signed POA document then needs to be legalised for recognition in Spain. This is done by sending it to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London or in Milton Keynes with a request for an Apostille. This is a type of authentication certificate, and pre-payment for the service. You can arrange this yourself online or your notary will arrange it for you. Your Spanish lawyer then needs to be sent the original documentation for the process to be formally completed.
Forward planning puts you prime position for when you find the property you’ve set your heart on
Preparation is key with a property purchase. Once the current Coronavirus pandemic is over and life gets back to normal, we anticipate a rush of new Spanish property purchasers from the UK. This means you are likely to find yourself in competition with other buyers, not just from the UK but all over Europe and beyond. Granting POA to your lawyer now, thereby enabling them to start the process of obtaining your NIE and opening a Spanish bank account for you, would certainly give you the edge over less prepared buyers.
Contact Sun Lawyers about your Power of Attorney
For any further questions about this stage of purchasing or any other matter, please contact us at email@example.com