A Power of Attorney is something that we have been recommending at Valencia Property for a long time. And not just any type of Power of Attorney, no señor, a full, all singing, all dancing General Power of Attorney allowing the lawyer to do anything for you... absolutely anything, essentially allowing them to be you in Spain. We get a lot of clients who are reticent to do this of course as it's not normal in other countries. Powers of attorney tend to be for specific things rather than for general matters. And people don't trust lawyers... I wonder why. So when we recommend a full General Power of Attorney we are often confronted with reticence. Therefore, today we are looking at why you may want a Power of Attorney, how it may save your purchase and what else it can be useful for.
Since the Covid Pandemic the Power of Attorney has become more and more important and we have plenty of examples of why which we are going to show you today.
Firstly, when lockdown came along in 2020 the Power of Attorney saved a couple of purchases and deposits for our clients. Unable to travel they were able to complete their purchase because they had the foresight to put a full General POA in place. Remember that the system in Spain usually has a deposit in place, in these cases 10% in one purchase and more in the other. The owners would have been within their rights to keep the deposit money and sell the properties to other buyers if the POA hadn't been in place but because they were already done all that was required was for the clients to give a written authorisation to the lawyer to make the purchases on their behalf (See more about this below).
This also happened again when the second lockdown came along and one of our clients found themselves unable to travel. The POA was a lifesaver in that case too because let's just say the owner was a bit of a tw*t and was licking their lips at the possibility of keeping the deposit money and putting the property back on sale.
But it's not only Covid that caused problems, banks might also cause problems too. Just before the Christmas break we had a couple of slightly difficult sales needing to go through. Both were cancelled on the supposed day at the notary in the last week before Christmas Day. Once because of a bank and the other time because of.... yes you guessed it, a bank. The first one was because the bank were unable to provide payment on the day as their system for both cheques and transfers was down for this particular client. The second one was because they refused to accept the description of the property in the property registry.
Both properties needed to be signed for the following week as that was the end of the deposit contract. That week was just a few days between Christmas and the New Year and therefore we had a problem, trips home for Christmas were already arranged and paid for and being present for the signings would have meant a huge financial and family reunion loss in one case and let's just say family problems in the other. Both sales went through the following week, one where the buyers gave the POA to their lawyer to sign on their behalf and the other where the seller gave me the POA to sell their house (One of the sellers works with my wife so the trust was there)
To Whom You Should Give a Power of Attorney?
Firstly, it should be someone you trust, and you should trust them implicitly. Many clients have given me (Graham) Powers of Attorney in the past but it's usually because we had a previous relationship being friends. Some sellers who have been out of the country have given me Powers of Attorney to sell their property, usually because they are in another country on the other side of the World and giving me the Power of Attorney has been easier than travelling over to sell. However this is not normal. People have done it before though because they know me and know it will be difficult for me to disappear off the face of the Earth as my address is known, my social media is known, the company is known, there are recommendations for us everywhere and we have been doing this for over 20 years, however, it's still not normal (Sometimes the banks even require the holder of the POA to be a lawyer).
Some people give family members Powers of Attorney but again this is not normal because people don't want to put this responsibility on their family members and others just don't trust anyone in their family to be reliable enough to do what they need to do.
It's much more normal to give the Power of Attorney to a lawyer and this is who we suggest you should be giving a POA to. But how can you know you can trust the lawyer? Well you can't. You have to rely on our experience and our contacts and our recommendations. We wouldn't recommend a lawyer we didn't totally trust and to tell the truth there are some lawyers we know who we don't recommend giving POAs to. Not because they cannot be trusted so much as they are not reliable enough to make the process seamless and for the purchase to go through without a hitch. There are also other lawyers we do not recommend because of the cost involved, of which more later.
What Can a Power of Attorney Be Used For?
Anything and everything. A full General POA is enough to act as you in Spain or Worldwide. We generally suggest a full general POA but limited to Spain rather than Worldwide as it isn't needed there.
Can I Limit The Power of Attorney?
Yes you can. And you can limit it in any way you want, in time, in area or in things the POA holder can do for you and more. However we usually suggest a General Power of Attorney because a limited POA might not have the ability to do a specific thing required, for example sign for a mortgage if you decide late on to get finance rather than paying for the property with savings.
Are There Any Downsides to a Power of Attorney?
The initial cost for something that you may not use is an issue for some people although it should only cost around 100-200 Euros to draw up a POA at a Notary, it depends on the number of pages. Also the possibility of the POA holder being indisposed and not able to act on your behalf might be a worry for some people. And if you are a worrier then giving someone so much power over your assets and access to your bank account may not be something that's good for your health. Apart from that though...
How Much Does a Power of Attorney Cost?
As mentioned drawing up the POA may only be 100-200 Euros but if a lawyer has to use the POA then they will usually charge you for that responsibility and that may be up to 0.5% of the property cost. Why? Because the tax authorities are going to assume they have made use of any POA they have and charge them accordingly and also it's a big responsibility imposed on them.
How Else Might a Power of Attorney Be Useful?
Not only can you buy a property with a POA you can essentially instruct your POA holder to do anything for you. If you read the small print, and there's a lot of it, then you will see that the POA holder can even drive your sheep across a bridge but usually they can do things like represent you at community meetings in your absence, organise repairs on the property and pay for them, sort out insurance issues, pay in and take money out from your bank to pay contractors or for goods and services... you get the idea, ANYTHING. They are essentially you, so they can be very useful and obviously this is why your POA holder needs to be someone you trust.
How Does a Power of Attorney Get Used?
Thje Lawyer's Association has this very clearly marked out. A lawyer can use a POA however and whenever they want but the lawyers we work with tell us very clearly they will never act without a specific written instruction from the client. Why not? After all you gave them a POA to act for you. Well, it's simply an issue to cover their own back. They don't want you to be able to say "I never told you to buy that property for me or sign that mortgage!" They ask for a written instruction and if they don't receive it then they won't sign. This protects them from any comeback because you change your mind after purchase or after taking any action on your behalf.
The POA is given to banks, insurance companies, contrators and others to show that the lawyer has the right to represent you. Banks take a few days to check that the POA is valid for what the POA holder wants to do so it's worth taking it to the bank as soon as the POA is granted so the lawyer can get the bank drafts for purchase or make transfers on your behalf. Also we try to get the POA from the same notary where the eventual signing for a property will take place as this makes things a little easier. If this is not possible because the POA is done at an Embassy or Consulate in another country the lawyer will send their standard POA to be filled in with the details of the client knowing that the Notaries here will accept that format.
Can I Revoke a Power of Attorney?
Yes you can. At any moment. You can go into a Notary and revoke the POA but most people don't do this unless there is a good reason usually a falling out with the POA holder. Many people just take back the physical POA from the lawyer and hold it themselves (This doesn't mean the lawyer cannot act for you as they could go to the notary and ask for another copy if they were that way inclined but it's usually enough)
We understand that giving a Power of Attorney is a big step for some people, especially those from countries where lawyers have a less than stellar reputation. However the usefulness of the POA far outweights the negatives in our experience and it brings a huge peace of mind if things get complicated, which they may. If you have any worries about giving a POA then feel free to shoot us any questions over and we can maybe put your mind at rest.
Property of the Week (Recently Reduced)
We don't often get to say that something has been reduced in price because things sell. However just now and again something slips through the cracks and doesn't sell for whatever reason. Here's one of those properties so the owner has dropped the price. Read on.
There's a strong chance that you’ve read a lot about Valencia, or been here already and identified it as a place to invest or live and enjoy all that the city has to offer, you may come prepared knowing exactly what you want and where you want to be, ready to hit the ground running and change your life for the better, we agree, homework reaps it rewards and the better equipped you will be to slide right in and find your ideal place, however, the chances you will find the “Perfect” property are very slim, compromises are a fact of life and whatever the budget there will always be pros and cons to any property, probably the best advice is to come with an open mind, our clients who have made Valencia a permanent home all have one thing in common, they’re optimists.
So on to the property, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, and independent kitchen wrapped up into a duplex apartment in a wonderful location, with every possible square metre taken advantage of and maximised, high ceilings in the living room afford it some extra light, given that its a 1st floor that’s probably for the best, and set in a bustling square near central market its not the quietest of neighbourhoods, but that’s not going to bother a Pollyanna principle force of nature like you is it? You’ll probably be out there getting on with your exciting life, meeting new people and thanking your lucky stars you made the leap and moved to Valencia.
Very interesting and if you send us a cheerful email I’ll tell you more about it, keep thinking those positive thoughts, and come and join us.
Upcoming Blog Posts
We have got a lot of ideas for future blog posts and I thought it was time to get them put out there so you will see what's coming up on the blog and maybe in the Podcast. If there's anything you would like us to write or talk about just drop us a note and let us know. If we can then we will of course.
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The Latest Valencia Property Podcast
We came into the New Year with a new Podcast in which we answered a lot of questions from our clients and gave you an overview of what we had written in December, in case you missed anything over the Christmas period. Have a listen below and if you have any questions then shoot them over to us and we will try to answer them on future blog posts and podcasts.
Competition Prize Handover
On Sunday I met up with our competition winner Ian to hand over his prize of the framed rail map of Spain. Whether it will take pride of place above the TV or the rather excellent clock will remain we are not sure yet. Congratulations Ian and Sue and we hope you enjoy the map produced by Mike Hall, a mapmaker based in Valencia.
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