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Granting Spanish Powers of Attorney from the UK
If you are based in the UK, it may not be practical to fly out to Spain to deal effectively with your Spanish property affairs. It’s often more efficient to appoint someone to act on your behalf locally and, to do so, you will need to grant a valid Spanish Power of Attorney.
Broadly speaking the process of granting a Spanish Power of Attorney involves:
- Preparation of a suitable Power of Attorney document;
- Dealing with the formalities to ensure that the Power of Attorney will be accepted in Spain; and
- Delivering the Power of Attorney to those who need to use it
Preparing your Spanish Power of Attorney
Whether the Spanish Power of Attorney has already been drafted or you need help to prepare the document from scratch, the key questions to address are deciding who to name as your Attorneys and what powers you are going to grant them.
The typical clauses in a Spanish Power of Attorney consist of primary powers, such as those allowing your Attorneys to buy, sell, inherit and take Court action in Spain, and will usually be supported by further clauses allowing your Attorneys to deal with other important activities like handling your bank accounts and tax affairs.
We have expertise in preparing specific clauses to give you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and can’t make your own decisions (you ‘lack mental capacity’).
The powers you grant have far-reaching consequences and you need to strike a balance to ensure that your Attorneys are not given unnecessarily wide Powers but can still deal effectively with your Spanish affairs. Whoever you appoint as your Attorneys in Spain, you need to trust them. It is usually sensible to have a fall-back by naming more than one Attorney and you can avoid trusting blindly if your Attorneys are professionally regulated. Our clients regularly appoint us and trusted professionals within our Spanish network.
Making your Spanish Power of Attorney effective
Once you are happy with who you are appointing as your Attorneys and the powers you are giving them, your signature of the document will need to be witnessed by a Notary Public. The Notary will need to identify you and make sure you understand and can grant the Spanish Power of Attorney. Once you have signed the document, the witnessing Notary’s signature will then need to be formally recognised under the process of legalisation.
Notaries in the UK are lawyers qualified to authenticate and certify signatures and documents for use abroad. The process of legalisation involves sending the Spanish Power of Attorney to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London or Milton Keynes with correct pre-payment and a request for an Apostille to be attached to the Notarised document.
An Apostille is a certificate attached to the Power of Attorney that allows the document to be recognised in Spain immediately. Recognition of the Power of Attorney without a further formalisation process in Spain is made possible by an international treaty from the 1960s to which the UK and Spain are both parties. The formal name for the treaty is the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents and explains why you may be asked to arrange a ‘Hague Apostille’ for your Spanish Power of Attorney.
An alternative to dealing with the process of granting a Spanish Power of Attorney from the UK would be to attend the Spanish Embassy in London or one of a handful of Spanish Consulates dotted elsewhere around the UK. The downsides of using the Consulate are that its geographical restrictions will often be inconvenient, and the process may lack necessary advice.
Delivering a Spanish Power of Attorney
Once the Spanish Power of Attorney has been legalised, the document will need to be delivered to the people who need to represent you. If one of your Attorneys is currently in the UK and due to travel to Spain and spend some time there, then they may be able to take the document with them on their next trip.
If, instead, the people appointed under the Spanish Power of Attorney are based in Spain and need the document quickly, then a courier is going to be the most reliable delivery method.