Property Disputes

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice for property problems abroad
We provide a comprehensive service that will cover every aspect of your case, from initial consultation through to conclusion - and appeal should that prove necessary.
 

Conveyancing

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice about buying a property in Spain, France and Portugal
One of the most common misconceptions people tend to have when buying a property abroad is a belief that things will follow a similar path as buying a property at home.

Mortgage Problems

Overseas property lawyers based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
Whatever the circumstances many people now find that they are struggling to pay their mortgages on a month to month basis and may even be in arrears.
 

Foreign Wills 

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
By making a foreign Will you can ensure that the right people inherit from you and do so in the most tax advantageous way.  If you don’t leave a foreign Will then the law sets out who inherits from you

Timeshare

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
Timeshare is concept that has been around for many decades. The principle is quite simple – instead of buying a whole property abroad you simply buy a share in that property 

Other Services

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
Under our Legal Services, you can find further information about our other services. These include timeshare, wills, inheritance, starting a business abroad and obtaining a visa

Latest News

Spanish NIE's 21.02.2017
At some stage when you buy a property in Spain you will need to obtain an NIE.

NIE stands for “Numero de Identidad Extranjero”, which translates as “Foreigners Identification Number”.

The NIE is a cross between an Identification Number and a Tax Number in Spain. You will need your NIE number each time you come in contact with the authorities in Spain; primarily the tax authorities. You will also need it to open a Spanish bank account or to buy a car.

When it comes to buying a property in Spain however there is some confusion when it comes to NIEs, which we hope we can clarify.
 
We often hear clients tell us they have been told that they need an NIE number in order to buy a property in Spain, and that they also need an NIE in order to sign a purchase contract to buy that property in Spain. Neither of these is technically correct.
 
It is possible to not only sign a purchase contract to buy a property in Spain but also to sign a Spanish Title Deed and complete on the property without an NIE. You do, however, need an NIE in order to pay the taxes associated with a purchase of a property in Spain and as a buyer you will want to do this as soon as possible because you can’t register the property in your name unless you pay the taxes.

Therefore, although technically you don’t need the NIE for when you sign the title deed, in practical terms it makes very good sense to do so. In fact some Notaries will refuse to sign a title deed without the buyer having an NIE or may require the buyer to sign a supplemental document once they have obtained their NIE. 



There are three different ways of obtaining an NIE.

1. The Spanish Consulate way

The first way of obtaining your NIE is to do this yourself via the Spanish Consulate. Details of how to apply for this are available through the Spanish Consulate

Unfortunately the Spanish Consulate doesn’t seem to provide a translation to the form or instructions on how to fill this in. We have therefore produced one of these which can be seen at Judicare

The Spanish Consulate can be a bit slow in issuing NIEs and it is not uncommon for them to take a month and a half to issue these. This is because they simply collect the paperwork and then send these to a central point in Madrid who issue them and then return them to the Spanish Consulate.

2. Applying yourself in Spain

We often encourage people to obtain their NIEs themselves. This is because this is a nice gentle introduction to Spanish bureaucracy, which can be rather frustrating at times.

You apply for your NIE number at the local immigration office (oficina de extranjeros) which is normally found in the local police station (comisaria de policía). The way that you apply for your NIE in person varies between the different areas of Spain. In fact they can vary from one Police Station to another. Sometimes it is necessary to book an appointment but other times it is not. Sometimes you can get the NIE issued immediately and other times you may have to come back another day (sometimes a couple of days later and sometimes a couple of weeks). Sometimes you can queue in one line only to be told that you should be in a different line. It can be frustrating but will break you in for a life of dealing with the Spanish authorities.

You will need;

  • 2 Copies of the application form that you can download above
  • Proof of the reason why you are obtaining an NIE. If you are buying a property in Spain then a copy of the purchase contract is normally sufficient
  • Your passport and a copy of the page which has your photo, name, passport number etc. on it
  • Payment (normally €10)

3. Granting a Power of Attorney for somebody to apply for this on your behalf in Spain.

If you are granting somebody a Power of Attorney then it doesn’t take much more to include within that Power of Attorney the ability to obtain your NIE for you. In order to this they will need, in addition to the Power of Attorney itself, certified copies of your passports. You will need to get these certified by a Notary (you can find your local one at http://www.thenotariessociety.org.uk/) and then it needs to be sent to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for legalisation. You can read about the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Legalisation. Please note that some Police stations are being difficult with Passport Copies and therefore whilst it is tempting to try and save money by getting the Passport Copies certified as one document or even as part of the Power of Attorney it is best to do these as individual documents to the extent that each passport is certified and legalised separately. This will cost more but will mean that there is less chance of this being rejected by the authorities in Spain.

NIE numbers are issued provisionally for 3 months but we have now seen that the Spanish authorities have started issuing NIEs without an expiry date.

If you are buying a property in Spain and would like to speak to an experienced UK based solicitor about your purchase then you can contact one of our Spanish property team

Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.
 

Back To All News 

   Read more... Read more
European Wills 16.02.2017
You have bought your property abroad and are now looking forward to using it. You intend to either use it yourself as a holiday home, as a retirement home or you are going to rent it out for some sort of income. It might even be that you intend to move abroad to live and work there. Whatever the reason the prospect of your new overseas property is exciting.

However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t things that you need to be doing immediately after your purchase to tie up all those loose ends. Arranging insurance and changing over the names on the utilities are fairly obvious but there are other things like making a Will in that country that are equally important but which often get overlooked or forgotten about.
 
Legislation that came in throughout Europe on 17th August 2015 means that making a Will is even more important than it was in the past if you own property abroad and live in that country.

In the past if you were British and owned a property abroad then by and large you could leave your foreign property in accordance with UK laws. UK laws aren’t greatly restrictive as to who you can leave your property to when you die and therefore you can broadly speaking leave your assets to whoever you want. In contrast in many other countries throughout Europe there is the concept of “Forced Heirs”, which means that you are forced to leave a certain percentage of your assets to certain people.
 
Having to leave your assets to certain people may seem quite draconian, but in reality this doesn’t normally cause a problem as the people who have to inherit from you are normally your children, which is what most people want to ultimately happen anyway. However, in some circumstances you may not want to leave your assets to your children. They may have done quite nicely for themselves anyway and you may wish to leave your assets to somebody who isn’t as well off. You may have fallen out with your children and may not want them to inherit anything. You may wish to make sure that your spouse is looked after first and foremost at this stage. There can be lots of reasons why you may not wish to leave your assets to your children upon your death.

Most countries (with a couple of exceptions) accept that if you are not a national of that country then you don’t have to follow the forced heirs rules that apply to nationals and that you can leave your assets in accordance with the laws of your own nationality. However, after 17th August 2015 throughout Europe the new European Directive has a significant impact on owners of properties if they don’t take decisive action. Although the UK and Ireland have opted out of Regulation 650/2012 this regulation cannot be totally ignored if you own property abroad.

In essence the new regulations change which law applies should you die living abroad. Now if you die in an EU state that has adopted the rules then your inheritance will be regulated by where you are resident not, as previously, by your nationality. That means that if you die resident in a country where there are forced heirs you will have to follow the inheritance laws of that country and follow those forced heirs rules rather than the law of your nationality. This is a huge change and has a significant effect on some people.

Having said all of that there is ways around this which are relatively easy and cheap to put into place. The regulation says that it will be the law of your habitual residence that will apply to our assets but also allows you to choose the law of your nationality to regulate your inheritance if you want to – providing that you specify that you want this to happen. Obviously the easiest way of doing this is to make a Will that specifically states that you wish the law of your nationality to apply and then sets out what you want to happen to your assets in an inheritance situation.

The regulation is a major and important shift in dealing with inheritance issues within Europe even though the UK and Ireland has opted out of it. However, there is a simple solution to the potential problem and that is to make a Will. It is now even more important to make a Will than it was beforehand and this isn’t something that should be ignored if you want your wishes to be listened to. If you have made a Will previously that dealt with your overseas property and this was made prior to the new legislation coming into force then it makes sense to check with your solicitor that your Will is still compliant and will still work.

If you would like to know more foreign Wills and would like to speak to a specialist international solicitor about Wills, inheritance or any other legal aspect of your overseas property ownership then you can contact our legal team

Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.
 
 
Read more... Read more
Healthcare Abroad 16.02.2017
When you own a property abroad there may be times when you need access to healthcare.

Within Europe (at the current time of writing prior to the UK coming out of Europe as a result of the Brexit referendum) this is quite simple. If you are on holiday and need accident and emergency treatment this is covered under the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which replaced the old E111 system.

This entitles you to accident and emergency treatment within Europe just like if you were a national of that other country.
 
However, some of the things that you are used to being covered may not be covered in that other country or there may be a requirement to pay for certain things that you are not normally expected to. Because of this it makes sense to take out additional travel insurance that will cover you for a wide variety of other issues.

Once the UK comes out of Europe we anticipate that a similar system will be put into place but we will not know this until it happens. If you are travelling outside of Europe you will need to take out travel insurance.

The situation if you are living in another country is slightly more complicated and will depend on your circumstances. Generally speaking if you are working in that country and paying your taxes then you will be entitled to the same healthcare as a national of that country.
Generally speaking that means that in European countries that you will have some level of free healthcare.

In countries such as the USA you will still need to take out healthcare insurance.

If you have retired abroad but are not yet of UK retirement age then normally you have to take out healthcare insurance no matter where you are resident.

If you have retired abroad and are of UK retirement age then within Europe at the moment (prior to Article 50 is invoked for Brexit) then you are entitled to the same healthcare as a national of that country. However, some of the things that you are used to being covered back home may not be covered abroad and therefore you may decide to take up top up insurance to make up the difference.
 
Outside Europe you will have to take out health insurance
 
If you own property abroad or are thinking about moving overseas and require legal advice then you can speak to one of our legal team
 
Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.
 
Read more... Read more