COVID-19 travel restrictions caused tremendous difficulties for people worldwide, with many plans for holidays, gap years, and overseas property purchases now on hold. If you were planning on buying a Spanish property in 2020, or 2021, you might have thought it impossible due to border controls, lockdowns, and strict quarantine regulations. However, even before and now after the pandemic, there are various reasons a buyer might not be able to travel to purchase, and in this article, we’ll take a look at ways around this problem.
What is a Power of Attorney?
Having a Power of Attorney located in Spain is the best solution during circumstances such as what we are currently facing in 2020/2021.
A Power of Attorney is called an ‘Escritura de Poder’ in Spanish but is often shortened to ‘Poder’.
A Power of Attorney is a legal, authorised document declaring you have selected a licensed professional, friend, or family member to carry out activities on your behalf.
The POA is used when a person cannot tend to their legal responsibilities at a place or event and wants to be represented by another. It is a practical and legal method of assigning authority.
What can the POA authorise?
The selected representative can make arrangements, submit documents, or sign a contract on your behalf. When it comes to a property transaction in Spain, the Power of Attorney can take care of the following:
- Open or control a bank account
- Apply for a NIE on behalf of the absent person
- Sign documents throughout the buying procedures, including completion papers
- Arrange insurance
- Arrange utilities
- Pay taxes and bills
- Resolve requests by authorities
When buying a Spanish property, most buyers will choose their lawyer as the POA. Appointing the person who is helping you professionally to purchase the property makes good sense.
While you can designate the task to friends or family, ideally, it should be someone familiar with the property laws in Spain and the buying process.
The Spanish bureaucracy is one of the greatest headaches for foreigners buying a home or moving to Spain. Government offices, banks, notaries, town hall departments, etc., have a strange fondness for long and complicated paperwork. Autonomous communities like Catalunya, where documents are only provided in Catalan, can be even more exasperating.
The POA document
A Power of Attorney document should include the following Information:
- Your details and those of the person you wish to appoint
- The control you give to the person. You can grant powers related to a particular assignment or give general power. The person can only perform activities for you specified in the POA.
- The notary details who witnesses the signing of the document.
POA and residency
Another person cannot apply for residency in Spain for another person, even with a POA. The current system demands that you go to the relevant agency in person.
How to draw up a Power of Attorney?
Even if your lawyer is your appointed POA, you must hire an independent lawyer to draw up a Power of Attorney for you. Ask for a translated English copy if you don’t speak decent Spanish. You need to go to a public notary to sign the document.
If you cannot get to Spain to sign the POA, you can make a POA in your country, witnessed by a notary there. Your Spanish lawyer needs to present the document in Spanish and your language so the notary understands the document when you sign.
If signed abroad, the Power of Attorney will need to ask for an Apostille of the Hague from the Foreign Office. This is a stamp attached to the original document which verifies the signature, seal, or stamp on the document is authentic.
Alternatively, if the Spanish Embassy in your country is not too far for you to reach, a POA can be authorised there.
Unless you specify when you want the Power of Attorney to end, it will not expire. But your death or loss of mental faculties automatically removes a Power of Attorney.
Only give POA to a respectable lawyer or someone you know you can trust. You are giving legal rights to a third party, so it is not a decision to take lightly.