Tarracoiuris makes it easier to get legal advice remotely

We’ve always been swift to adopt new technology so you can get legal advice regardless of your location. We now have a new tool that will make it even easier for you to get personalised legal advice without having to install any specific application.

We are proud to have clients on every continent. For many years now, we have invested in the most versatile communication channels available so you can easily contact us from anywhere across the globe on a daily basis. As well as being able to talk directly to us with all the guarantees of privacy and confidentiality, you can share with us any document type via a 100% private and secure cloud storage system.

One obstacle we found when communicating via channels such as Skype, Hangouts and Meet was that our clients had to know our account for each application and must have previously installed the application in question in the device they wanted to use to speak to us. For instance, if they usually contacted us from their office but urgently needed to speak to us from somewhere else, if they didn’t have the application with which they usually contacted us installed on the device they had with them (computer, tablet or mobile phone), it made it harder for them to speak with us.

We have overcome these problems with our new tool. We now have a virtual conference room that you access just by clicking on the link that we send you by the means that best suits you. You don’t have to install any application on your device.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Your legal adviser in Spain

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Professional services for pensioners residing abroad

When you stop working, it’s time to enjoy your pension. But what happens to your pension if you decide to retire abroad? To receive a pension in Spain as a foreign resident, you need to take into account a range of matters that can turn out to be quite complex.

Spanish pension laws are extremely complex, although this legislation is not applicable to Spanish residents receiving a foreign pension. In this case, you are covered by bilateral social security agreements. In Spain, the Social Security (“Seguridad Social”) takes care of social welfare matters.

One typical situation is migrating when you’re already receiving a pension in your home country. In this case, you need to know what to do to make sure you keep receiving your pension abroad. To start with, you need to submit a number of documents to the social welfare authority in your home country.

You may also need to demonstrate that you are still alive and entitled to receive the pension. Any hitch regarding this matter can result in a stoppage of the payments and can cause serious problems for you as an overseas pensioner.

Another complex situation entails when you have worked most of your life in your home country but now work abroad and plan to stay and live in this foreign country during your retirement. In this case, you need to calculate the most beneficial option according to the applicable international agreements for the periods worked in the two countries.

This situation can vary greatly and can give rise to very complex scenarios because of differences between the legislations of the different countries regarding the minimum retirement age, the minimum amount of years worked required, requirements regarding non-contributory pensions, etc. Ideally, you need to get professional advice when making decisions about such important matters regarding your working life.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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Doing business abroad via a representative

When we have interests in a foreign country we aren’t residing in, we usually manage them by distance. To do this, we normally grant power of attorney to someone we trust. Given the important legal implications in giving someone power of attorney, the process is subject to strict formalities.

These formalities are even stricter if the document empowering our representative is to be used for managing business interests in a country different from where it is issued. At our law firm, we come across cases like these every day. For example, an Englishman wanting to purchase a property in Spain and have a Spanish legal professional represent him in the sale. Or a Russian on holiday in Spain who realises she needs to take care of something at a Swiss bank and wants to give someone in that country power of attorney for representing her at the Swiss bank. Or a German resident in Spain who needs to settle an inheritance in Germany and wants someone he trusts to handle it for him. In situations like these, the document granting the power of attorney to our representative, which will be issued in one country and used in another, must be legalised.

Documents granting powers of attorney that can be used internationally must be officially authorised to be valid. This means that an authenticating official (normally a notary public or a public servant) must certify the document. This authenticating official attests that the person signing the document is who they say they are and is of sound mind (or at least states they are). This certification converts the power of attorney into a notarial instrument. However, for this document to be recognised in other countries, the person who officially certifies it must be recognised by another authority in the same country that is in turn recognised by the authorities of the country in which the document is going to be used. For example, a power of attorney granted before a Spanish notary public to be used in Germany must be recognised as an authentic notarial instrument by the German authorities. In most European countries, this international recognition of the local official is done via an Apostille stamp. In the above example, the power of attorney granted by the Spanish notary must bear an Apostille stamp from the Spanish Association of Notaries Public, which is the body recognised by the German authorities for authorising the signature of a Spanish notary public.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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Legal restrictions affecting the purchase of inherited real estate

Buying a property is always a risky proposition. Especially when the seller inherited the property. This entails additional risks for the buyer, depending on the relationship the seller had with the former owner.

In a previous post, we spoke about the risks of buying real estate inherited by an immediate family member. These risks have to do with tax as the inheritor is entitled to fiscal benefits that place restrictions on the sale of the property. If these restrictions are not met, the tax office will make any claim against the current owner of the property.

In this post, we look at another type of risk that arises from a slightly different situation — when the seller acquires the property by inheritance from someone who is not an immediate family member. The most typical example is a single person or widow without children who, via a will or by law, ends up leaving their estate to a non-immediate family member (under Spanish law: a sibling, nephew/niece, cousin, etc.) or even someone with no family ties.

When the seller registers the inherited real estate in the land registry, a restriction is placed on their power to sell the property for a given period. This restriction exists so that if an heir with a preferential right to inherit appears (e.g., a child that had not previously been acknowledged), their rights are protected.

This restriction, which is often not taken into account, can lead to surprises as the banks may decline financing the property purchase in such cases. As always, we recommend seeking the assistance of a lawyer when you purchase a property to obtain the proper legal advice.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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European tax offices strengthen their ties

Over the years, we have observed from our law firm how the Spanish Tax Office has improved its channels of cooperation with other European tax offices to the point that they are now sharing all types of information on taxpayers.
 
Until now, this cooperation was limited to chasing real estate assets located in Spain owned by taxpayers of other countries who had outstanding tax bills with their home tax office. The Spanish Tax Office collected the debt that a taxpayer had abroad by claiming against real property owned in Spain, regardless of whether the person was a resident.
 
Now the cooperation is even stronger. Administration and inspection proceedings are triggered via the data provided by foreign tax offices. Recently we’ve seen the German and British tax offices inform their Spanish counterpart of known income of nationals of these countries who apparently reside or have their domicile in Spain. Based on this information, the Spanish tax agency sends a claim demanding payment of the undeclared tax and the corresponding penalties, which can reach 50% of the sum owed plus interest on the debt from the deadline for paying the tax. If you have received one of these claim letters in recent weeks, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your tax advisor.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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Why you should make a will where you invest in property

From the moment you register your property in a state’s land registry to protect your rights as a property owner, you are subject to that state’s regulations. If the state that rules on your inheritance is not the same as the one governing your property, you can help your heirs by making a will in the state where the property is located.

When you buy a house, you want your property rights to be protected by the law of the land. This is why you register your title to the property in the corresponding land and property registers. In exchange for this protection, you pay taxes. After your death, your heirs will want the same protection, but their title to the property will not be a property deed. It will be an acceptance of inheritance document. This is a document issued by the authorities of a country that may be different from where your property is located.

The differing legal approaches in different countries create the biggest headaches in international inheritances. Who is the heir? What percentage do they inherit? Who has a right to inherit? Such questions can only be resolved by the competent public authorities. As a rule, these are the authorities of your country of residence or nationality. When you have foreign investments, the documents issued by the authorities in your home country have to be interpreted by the authorities in the country where you have assets. This creates additional problems that can be tricky to resolve. You can resolve these problems by making a valid will in the country where your property is located. By doing so, you stop foreign authorities from getting involved in the processing of your estate.

As always, we recommend that our foreign clients, from as soon as they own property in Spain, make a Spanish will to govern their Spanish inheritances as they see fit. Thus, limiting the involvement of non-Spanish authorities in the processing of their estates.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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Working in Spain for non-resident employers

Providing services remotely is, thanks to today’s technology, increasingly common. You can live in one country and provide services to a person or company based in another. However, this scenario can be confusing with regard to taxation and social security.

Today’s technology allows you to provide someone with services without ever having to physically meet them. For instance, communications, consultancy work and the transfer of knowledge are all services that can be provided remotely via the Internet, with no physical or geographical barriers. If you are a Spanish resident, which, as a rule, means that you live here for more than 183 days a year, you are subject to Spanish labour, tax and social security regulations with regard to the services you provide.
But there are grey areas in the Spanish legislation when it comes to remote working. It is straightforward if you are self-employed. In this case, you are simply registered and treated as self-employed by social security and the tax office. You have the same obligations as any self-employed resident.
However, you may not technically be self-employed if:

  • You only provide services for one person or company.
  • The receiver of your services trained you or provided you with or paid for the tools required to carry out the work commissioned.
  • You carry out the work according to the instructions of the service receiver, and the resulting products are sold on by them.

If these cases, the service receiver is actually your employer, and they are required to register you with the social security as an employee and meet their tax and employer obligations in Spain. It doesn’t matter if the company or person receiving your services does not have a permanent premises in Spain. Their obligations are clear, and you can report them for not meeting them.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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Who will inherit your property?

You may think you know the answer to this question. But the law, when applied, can lead to some surprising and unexpected outcomes. Because regardless of whether you make a will, your inheritance will be subject to the law.

I’m sure you know that the law fills the gap when someone doesn’t make a will. But even if you make a will, the law is applied to determine its validity, scope and any limitations.

What happens if the heir you appoint dies before you do? What happens if they die after you but before they formally accept the will, in other words, they die without having been declared your heir? What happens if you appoint a non-family member or a legal person (e.g., a foundation or association) as your heir and leave nothing to your children? What happens if somebody has an interest in invalidating your will?

All these questions are subject to the law. But here is where the doubts just begin. What law? The law where you live, your country of origin or where your property is located?

For instance, the inheritance of a Swiss national resident in Spain is governed by Swiss law. However, Swiss law can end up making Spanish law applicable. Whereas the inheritance of a German national resident in Spain is governed by Spanish law except where otherwise stated in the will.

And then there’s the fact that the applicable Spanish law differs depending on whether you live in Benidorm or Salou. The applicable tax will also differ. Even the formalities that your heirs must observe to take possession of your property won’t be the same.

So care must be taken when setting out your inheritance in a will. You must think about the formalities that the beneficiary you designate will have to go through, the costs that they will have to bear, and any difficulties they might face with other possible beneficiaries, the authorities, your creditors, etc.

So if you have property in your name, we urge you to seek professional advice and make a will as soon as possible. Your heirs will be glad you did.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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The risk in buying inherited real estate

Buying a house is a big decision because it’s a big investment. You need to be aware of the consequences and clear about the risks.

Today we’re going to talk about a common scenario: inheriting the primary residence of a deceased parent, spouse or relative. People finding themselves in this scenario need to sign notarial documents to transfer the property by inheritance. They can also reduce the inheritance tax they owe if they state in these documents that they don’t have any intention to sell the property in the next five years. They may not have to pay any tax at all. This is something they are always relieved to hear when they visit the notary’s office. And they can still register the notarial document for accepting the inheritance in the Land Registry (a requirement in Spain) without any problem.

Time passes. These inheritors forget the statement they made so they could pay less or no tax when they accepted the inheritance. Then someone offers them a good price on the property. They decide to sell, and the buyer acquires the property, theoretically free of encumbrances. But this is not the case. Because of the inheritance, the property was subject to a charge recorded at the Land Registry. But everyone overlooked it. However, the Spanish tax authority, which can review tax declarations made when properties are transferred, won’t overlook it. If the tax authority decides that the wrong amount of tax was paid at the time of transfer, it can impose a new payment of the tax, with the property as security to cover any tax liabilities, regardless of who owns the property today. In the case that we spoke about above, the buyer could get a nasty surprise if the tax authority discovers that the conditions for the tax reduction or exemption taken advantage of when the property was transferred by inheritance were not subsequently met. Thus, tax becomes due on this property, and the new owner must pay it, even though they benefited in no way from the original tax break. This is why we always recommend seeking legal advice before signing any conveyancing agreement or preliminary agreement. You need a lawyer to check for any hidden problems that may come back to bite you. The case we talked about today is just one of the many traps that buyers can find they have fallen into when they sign agreements without seeking advice. There are many other scenarios that also entail great risk.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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Tourist rentals and homeowner associations

We’ve written before about the administrative requirements for renting properties to holidaymakers: https://blog.tarracoiuris.com/en/?p=380
Today we look at the legal issues that can arise with homeowner associations
.

As we stated in our previous post, the government has established social, economic and tax controls in the tourist rental market. It did this because holiday letting can affect housing prices, the make-up of districts and the good relations between neighbours. Politically, these are highly sensitive issues. Recently, there have even been very divisive campaigns by neighbourhood and social groups against tourism, a phenomenon referred to as “tourism-phobia” by some in the media. These groups say that the boom in holiday letting has caused social problems, especially in the historic centres of cities and in communities in tourist areas.

Thus, the government now requires various things if you want to rent a property to tourists. First, the property must have a special registration number. This number, issued by the Tourism Register of Catalonia (Registre de Turisme de Catalunya, RTC), starts with the prefix HUT, which basically stands for “property for tourist use” in Catalan. Second, you must register the property with the regional police so you can register the details of the people who stay overnight in your property. Lastly, you need to pay the Catalan tourist tax (the IEET tax) on an ongoing basis.

As well as having to comply with these administrative requirements, you also need to take into account whether the property you want to let out is affected by a homeowner association. If you have an apartment in a building with common areas or a house or duplex on an estate with common services (pool, sport facilities, etc.), you and your property may be affected by the decisions of a homeowner association on what your property may be used for. Homeowner associations are increasingly voting to prohibit certain uses of properties. This often includes prohibiting owners from renting their properties to holidaymakers.

What can you do to protect your property rights in such cases? You need to seek professional advice to analyse exactly what options you have. We would be more than happy to provide you with this advice. Please contact us if you find yourself in this situation or have any questions.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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