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Marbella - Spain

What do you need to check when buying property in Spain?

When buying property in Spain it’s important to realise that there are crucial differences compared with buying property in the UK. In Spain, buying property can be especially complicated as Spain has 17 autonomous regions, which all have their own regulations. This is why we strongly recommend that you seek reliable and independent Spanish legal advice before you commit to a property purchase in Spain.

Many people liaise with estate agents and find a property before seeking legal advice. Although some estate agents are perfectly reputable, the profession does not have the best reputation for having a buyer’s best interest at heart. Making sure that you have all the necessary information to make an informed decision when buying a property in Spain is crucial to ensure the success of the purchase and to prevent any future problems. A Spanish estate agent will provide you with a lot of helpful information about the property in Spain, but you need to know what else to look out for and ensure that you instruct a reputable Spanish lawyer to check this for you before you commit to a purchase!

Here are some of the main things to check to make sure that buying your dream home in Spain doesn’t become a nightmare!

 

Ask whether there any charges or debts attached to the property

In Spain, mortgages or unpaid taxes, for instance, are attached to the property rather than the individual. So, your lawyer in Spain must get proof that the vendor has paid all his debts before finalising your Spanish property purchase.

 

Check that whole property is registered at the Land Registry

If it is not registered, the ownership and legality of a Spanish property can be questioned, potentially causing significant complications. The Nota Simple (a short legal report of the property detailing  the current owner(s); the type of ownership; a brief description outlining the size and boundaries of the property and more) should clarify the ownership and legality of the Spanish property you are considering purchasing.

 

Find out whether there has ever been a breach of planning on the property

Your lawyer must find out whether a Spanish property is subject to any breach of Spanish planning rules or building regulations. Understanding whether the property has ever been inspected by the town hall regarding breaches of planning permission is a good starting point.

 

Ask to see a plan of the plot

Property boundaries, in Spain, especially concerning rural properties, can be very unclear. A reputable estate agent should be able to provide a plan of the plot. Your Spanish lawyer will help you to check the boundary of the Spanish property and make sure that the boundaries are clear, as well as match also those outlined in the Nota Simple. They will also check that all of the Spanish property and land you are considering buying at is actually included within the boundaries registered.

 

Check that the property is registered with the local town hall for IBI 

IBI (Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles) is a local Spanish tax, similar to council tax in the UK, which must be paid by the owners of all Spanish properties, even unoccupied properties. It’s important to note that Spanish properties that are not registered are not exempt from the tax and are subject to hefty fines if left unpaid. Asking the estate agent for a copy of the most recent bill, will help you find out what the annual IBI bill is for that Spanish property.

 

Ask about the License of First Occupation

All property in Spain requires a Licence of First Occupation (LFO), or equivalent for older properties. The LFO guarantees that when the property was first built, it was inspected by the local town hall to make sure the building meets the criteria of the planning permission granted. Most Spanish mortgage lenders require the LFO before they will offer a mortgage loan against a property.

 

Find out the taxable value of the Spanish property

The taxable value of a Spanish property (also known as the Cadastral Value) is the minimum value that the Regional Tax Authority deems the property to be worth. If the minimum taxable value is higher than the purchase price, you may need to pay Spanish transfer tax on the higher value because taxes are calculated against this value not the purchase price. This means that there could be an opportunity to negotiate on the purchase price. Your lawyer in Spain should check this before you commit yourself to the property purchase, so you can accurately budget for the taxes due and negotiate the purchase price of the Spanish property with this in mind.

 

Check whether the property has its own meters for water and electricity

Some Spanish properties have shared meters or may be subject to supplements. It’s worth knowing this in advance to avoid future complications. Ask for copies of the most recent bills to help you budget in terms of the cost of utilities for your Spanish property.

The property buying process in Spain is significantly different to conveyancing processes in the various parts of the UK and can therefore be daunting for UK buyers in Spain. However, as long as you obtain proper legal advice in relation to your property purchase from reputable Spanish lawyers from the outset, you can enjoy the process of acquiring your dream Spanish home and avoid future problems.

 

For more information about buying a property in Spain or for assistance from one of our recommended Spanish lawyers give us a call on 01244 470 339 or email info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk. You can also download our FREE Buying Property in Spain guide here.

 

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Dealing with an estate with assets abroad – what you need to know to avoid the pitfalls

In an increasingly international community, more and more people are investing in property abroad, holding bank accounts in multiple countries, as well as having shares and other investments in foreign countries.

This means that handling probate abroad is also on the rise, and it can be a challenge. Cross border inheritance rules and taxation issues can mean that the administration of foreign estates can be complicated and time-consuming.

Dealing with estates where there are foreign assets can be complicated and a lawyer in the foreign jurisdiction should be consulted as soon as possible. If you are a lawyer or personal representative dealing with an estate with foreign assets, contact Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470 339 or at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk to discuss how we can help you to deal with the foreign estate efficiently and cost effectively. 

Inheritance and tax laws can vary significantly between different countries but here are a few things to consider when handling wills and probate matters with assets abroad

 

1. Check whether there are any foreign wills

One of the first tasks when dealing with the administration of an estate is to establish whether the deceased held a will.

It is possible, however, that the deceased had multiple valid wills in different countries.

For example, when buying property abroad purchasers are usually advised by their foreign lawyer to make a will in that country to cover that property. If someone has lived in a country for many years, they may have at some point made a will there, and that will may still be valid.

If you are dealing with a deceased who has interests in foreign countries, care should therefore be taken to identify whether there are any wills in any other countries which may affect the administration of the estate and /or specify how the foreign assets are to be dealt with/ who will inherit the foreign assets.

They should also be reviewed to check that the foreign will does not actually revoke or conflict the will you have in front of you or visa versa.

In some European countries – including SpainFrance and Italy – there is an official central wills registry, which can be used to check whether a foreign will has been made, which is the most recent version and who holds the original will. Verifying this should be a first port of call when dealing with probate abroad and can save a lot of time, trouble and embarrassment in the long-term.

A death certificate is normally required to access the information held by the central wills registry and foreign death certificates, ordinarily, must be legalised in the country of issue and translated, if necessary, by an approved translator.

If you are dealing with an estate administration with foreign assets, contact Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470 339. We can provide free information, guidance and recommendations for English-speaking foreign lawyers.

 

2. Consider any deadlines in the foreign jurisdiction, and don’t delay!

Failing to consider deadlines in the foreign jurisdiction, such as the notification of death, the inheritance tax payment due date, for instance – is a common, but costly mistake. It is therefore important to find out this information from a lawyer in the foreign jurisdiction as soon as possible, to ensure that any deadlines are met. 

Foreign Inheritance Tax

Even if the estate in the UK is not subject to UK Inheritance Tax, inheritance tax may be due in the foreign country so you will need to quickly establish this and ascertain if there are any deadlines that need to be considered. If you wait until the UK estate has been dealt with before turning to deal with the foreign assets you may find that the estate or beneficiaries will be liable to interest, fines and/or penalty charges.

You may also need to ascertain whether there are any liquid assets available that may need to be used to settle any foreign taxes.

The six-month rule, regarding the payment of inheritance tax, is common across most European countries, however, it should be noted that there are differences between each country as to when that period starts from. In many countries, such as Spain and France, the payment of inheritance tax can be extended . However,  an extension application must be filed within a certain period of time. In Spain a 6 month extension for paying Spanish inheritance tax a can be obtained by applying for the extension by the end of the fifth month following death. In France, the tax authority is able to grant even more additional time – up to three years, and 10 years in the case of business inheritance – to pay the taxes due, but an application must be made in time.

Given that some countries charge interest if the inheritance tax is not paid on time, it’s important to check these details out in advance as it could save the estate/ beneficiaries unnecessary charges.

Accepting and declining inheritance from abroad

In some jurisdictions, the beneficiaries are required to formally accept or decline their inheritance and there are usually tight deadlines in relation to this.

It should also be noted that in some countries, the beneficiaries inherit both the assets and the debts of the deceased. The beneficiaries may need to take action to ensure they receive their inheritance or are able to waive their inheritance in the event that the debts exceed the assets. In Germany for example, a client is deemed to accept the inheritance if it has not been waived within the applicable deadline.

Registering a death

For example, while in UK the deadline to register a death is five days (eight days in Scotland), in Spain and France a death must be registered within 24 hours, whereas in Portugal, you have 48 hours to register a death. While it’s likely that the registration of death will already have been dealt with by the time an heir seeks legal advice, it’s worth checking.

If you need any help navigating the complexities of probate in a foreign country give our team a call on 01244 470 339 or email us at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk     

 

3. Consider the effect of currency exchange on the value of the assets.  

When re-patriating assets from a foreign country to the UK, the exchange rate can drastically affect the final amount of inheritance received, especially when dealing with large estates. High street banks offer very poor exchange rates when overseas funds are directly transferred into a UK bank account (including an executors or a solicitor’s client account). Plus, they often charge additional fees and commissions just to move money from abroad.

The most cost-effective way of receiving or sending money internationally is to use a reputable currency exchange specialist, who can assist with transferring the money and converting the currency. Typically, currency exchange specialists offer currency exchange rates that are 3-5 per cent better than high street banks, which means the client will retain 3-5 per cent more of the funds. For instance, if you were transferring the equivalent of £100,000 directly into your client’s account, using a currency specialist to convert the currency could save your client up to £5000.

The services of a good currency specialist are usually free but can save the beneficiaries and estate a significant amount. Failing to consider this can unnecessarily cost the estate thousands of pounds and the executor/ solicitor could be deemed to not be acting in the best interests of the estate beneficiaries if this is not properly considered.

For details of a recommended currency exchange specialist and to discuss how they can assist you and your clients, please get in touch with Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470 339 or email us at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk.  

 

4. Instruct a foreign lawyer

One of the most common mistakes lawyers or Personal Representatives make when dealing with an estate with foreign assets is to try to deal with the foreign assets without the assistance of a foreign lawyer.

In some cases, if the asset is very small for instance, it may be possible to deal with it without any formal legal process being followed in that country. However, in most countries the local inheritance process must be followed in order for the foreign assets to be released to the estate/beneficiaries regardless of the value.

For example, a Grant of Representation or Reseal is required to deal with assets in Malaysia and South Africa even if the value of the asset is small. In Spain and France, an Inheritance Deed will usually be required to deal with any assets held there.

It is also common for communication provided in English to be ignored by the bank, share registrar or whoever is holding the assets if that is not the local language.

Trying to deal with the foreign assets without the assistance of a lawyer in that country is likely to cause delay and increase costs long-term to the detriment of the estate and beneficiaries.

If you need the assistance of a foreign lawyer contact Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470 339  or email us at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk. Our friendly and knowledgeable teams who will be able to provide assistance and put you in touch with an English-speaking lawyer in the required country.

 

 

 

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Immoveable Property Commission: Northern Cyprus Compensation Claims Deadline Extended to 2019!!

In May 2015 Worldwide Lawyers published an article encouraging owners of property in Northern Cyprus that had been abandoned during the Turkish military intervention in 1974, to investigate whether they would be eligible to make a claim for compensation for the loss of that property.

In 2005 the government in the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC) passed legislation which created the Immovable Property Compensation Commission (IPC), an organisation which seeks to provide a just and effective remedy to the property claims of Greek Cypriots who lost control of their properties in the 1970’s.

Originally, the Immovable Property Commission was intended to operate from the date of the legislation until 21 December 2009 and this was subsequently extended to 21 December 2017. In December 2017 the Immoveable Property Commission extended the claims deadline for another 2 years until December 2019.

For further information about to find out who is eligible to claim, see the full article here: Lost Property in Northern Cyprus – The Immoveable Property Commission.

According to the Immoveable Property Commission, as of 9 February 2018, 6,404 applications have been lodged with the Commission and the Commission has paid GBP 268,644,501 in compensation to applicants.

 

I want to make a claim to the IPC. What do I do next?

Contact Worldwide Lawyers today on 01244 470339 or at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk.

Worldwide Lawyers can put you in touch with a lawyer in Northern Cyprus (TRNC) who has experience assisting Greek Cypriots and their families with claims to the Immoveable Property Compensation Commission for compensation.

We can provide you with further information about making an application to the Immoveable Property Compensation Commission and obtain a no-obligation quotation from an experienced lawyer in Northern Cyprus into assist you with all aspects of your IPC claim.

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Buying Property in Spain – Recommended Lawyers

About Worldwide Lawyers

If you are looking to buy a property in Spain or require any other legal assistance in Spain, Worldwide Lawyers can help. Our English-Speaking independent Spanish Lawyers can assist you with a property purchase anywhere in Spain from various offices including:

Mainland Spain: Alicante, Almeria, Barcelona, Denia, Galicia, La Zenia, Malaga, Madrid, Marbella, Murcia, Torrevieja, Valencia.

Balearic islands: Mallorca, Ibiza.

Canary Islands: Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria.

We also have Spanish lawyers based in the UK if preferred.

 

All of the Spanish lawyers are Independent, English-Speaking, qualified, regulated and insured. They specialise in assisting international clients (particularly clients from the UK) with Spanish legal matters including property purchases all over Spain. All advice is provided in English.

As well as dealing with a Spanish property purchase itself, if required, Worldwide Lawyers can assist you with all the other aspects involved in a property purchase including obtaining a Spanish identity number (NIE), opening a Spanish bank account, setting up your Spanish household utilities and making a Spanish will.

Worldwide Lawyers’ friendly team will provide you with free initial guidance with regard to your property purchase plans or other Spanish legal need. We will be happy to arrange a no-obligation quote from the independent Spanish lawyer most suited to your requirements and location.

Spanish Legal Services Provided

  • Property Purchases in Spain
  • Property Sales in Spain
  • Property Transfers in Spain
  • Spanish Inheritance
  • Spanish Wills
  • NIE Numbers
  • Spanish Taxes
  • Family and Divorce in Spain
  • Business Law in Spain
  • Off Plan Spanish Property Deposit Claims
  • Mortgage Floor Clause Claims

It’s never too early to get in touch. Call us on 01244 470 339, email us at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk or just complete the contact form on the right of this page. We look forward to speaking with you!

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Local Standards Reports in Overseas Personal Injury Cases

If someone is injured whilst on holiday abroad and wishes to make a claim for personal injury, they have several options when considering who to sue depending on the type of case.

If the injury occurred whilst on a package holiday, the injured person can choose to sue the tour operator within the courts of England and Wales (The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992, SI 1992/3288).

This option is usually preferred as other options, such as suing the person who caused the injury, can involve complex questions of which country’s law applies and which country’s courts can hear the claim. Claims against tour operators under the Package Travel cases however will be the law of the contract, which is usually the law of England.

So, if for example an injury occurs due to the fault of the hotel, the tour operator will be liable. However, the question of whether or not the hotel is a fault will be determined by reference to the laws, regulation or standards that apply in the country where the hotel is located.

Therefore fact that the hotel would be negligent under English law does not determine the liability of the tour operator in these cases – it is the question of whether they failed to comply with the local standards in the country where the hotel is situated that is relevant.

Need a local standards or quantum report from an overseas lawyer? Contact Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470 339 or at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk to see how we can help.

In order to prove that there was a failure to comply with the local standards, claimants usually require a ‘Local Standards Report’ which is an expert report setting our the local statutory, regulatory or customary standards.

It can however be very difficult to obtain these reports as it can be hard to find an appropriate expert with relevant qualifications and experience. The expert must understand that the English court will apply English law, but the local standard and also produce a report which complies with the English Civil Procedure Rules.

This is where Worldwide Lawyers can help. We regularly assist solicitors in the UK who are dealing with holiday/ or overseas personal injury claims. Many of the lawyers within the Worldwide Lawyers’ international network are able to assist with local standards reports required by lawyers and their clients in relation to claims made in England.

In other cases, such as Road Traffic Accidents claims may have to be valued in accordance with the rules of a foreign jurisdiction and a quantum report may be required from a lawyer in that jurisdiction setting out what can be claimed and how much. Worldwide Lawyer can also assist with this.

If you require a Local Standards Report, a Quantum Report or any other legal assistance from a lawyer qualified in another jurisdiction, contact Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470 339 or email info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk to discuss how we can assist.

In most cases we will be able to put you in touch with a lawyer who can provide the report required and also arrange a no-obligation quote for this.