A trip to a Spanish notary is an important part of buying or selling a property in Spain. This is usually the final step of the process when signing for land or property. Notaries also serve many other functions which may not be familiar to some. Below we explain their core functions and circumstances in which you will need them.
Notaries here operate in a similar way to most of Europe but there are some differences. They are an essential cog of the Spanish legal system but also independent from it. Their job is to remain impartial and ensure legitimacy to individuals and the State. This may be different elsewhere as it's inline with the Spanish Constitution. You can check article 9 here to learn more about citizens legal rights with regards to the Notary.
Another big difference is the amount of time they need to study. Once passing their law degree they need to do more exams before they can work in the Notary. This is a very respected institution which is more senior than most legal entities. You will never be far from a Notary with over 3000 offices across the country.
What The Notary Stands For
Below is summary of what the ethos of the Notary is. This is a rough translation taken from the Spanish version here on their website.
- Guarantee of security and legality: Any contract, business or public deed is 100% legal and unassailable. These records can appear before any court, their truthfulness will never be in doubt.
- Peace of mind: Signing any document before a Notary provides the peace of mind that the contract is final.
- Closeness: You will always have a Notary nearby that you can choose with total freedom.
- Best qualified professionals: To serve in the Notary requires intensive studies and a touch selection process.
- Independence: Notaries are only conditioned by law and not the individual or State
- Modernity: Notaries are always evolving and innovating their functions. They try to prevent new social and technological requirements.
- Efficiency: The cost of notarial intervention is much lower than the social and economic costs it avoids. They only receive a small part of what you pay. Everything else is taxes, registration fees and other client expenses.
Signing Property Contracts (Escritura) At The Notary
If you are buying a property the first step is to sign the contract (escritura) with the Notary. This is then sent off to the property registry to action. The original stays with the Notary but you can request a copy anytime.
When you buy or sell your home or land the Notary can give you lots of helpful impartial advice. They are a public official who ensure all property taxes arrive to the government. They also register any foreign money transfers. If you are a non-resident, the Notary must ensure they keep 5% of the property price to give to the Hacienda. This protects against capital gains tax.
There are many other legal services the Notary can provide you which relate to real estate matters. Writing a legal letter to a tenant of your property if you wish to sell or end the tenancy. They can also provide legal copies of minutes for meetings in your area.
Spanish Wills & Inheritance
Spanish Wills are another important function of the Notary. This usually involves them being a witness to the signing of the will. There are circumstances where they play a more active role. This could be giving impartial advice and conducting interviews. As we already mention, the Notary is there to protect the rights of both individuals and the State. Once they identify the parties in question and witness the signing, it's then sent off to the Wills Register.
The Notary have a big part to play when it comes to inheritance. They need to identify any heirs of the deceased and distribute their estate. This is also the case if there is no will and there is real estate or other possessions to pass down.
More Important Services
There are far too many other services to list them all but here are some of the most important:
- Power of attorney
- Mortgage loans
- Limited Companies
- Pre-nuptial agreements