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30 Jan 2019

Hidden Dangers of Owning Overseas Property: What You Need to Know

Hidden Dangers of Owning Overseas Property: What You Need to Know - Asura


Most people travel abroad for pleasure, friendship, experience, and pleasure. But have you ever wondered what will happen if you experience a disaster abroad and you lose your financial capacity? Do you know what will happen to your money and your property?

Eternal power of attorney (POA) allows you to appoint different people to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of POA: (1) health and welfare; and (2) property and finance. These documents can be used at your convenience when you are abroad or whenever the need arises.

When needed, your appointed lawyer can handle transactions with hospitals, financial institutions, and government organizations on your behalf. Establishing a POA in the United Kingdom will allow your lawyer to have the power to help you manage your affairs in the country. However, if you have other foreign relations, POA documents based in the U.K. may not be enough.

This review discusses how you can use POA abroad and whether a foreign POA is needed or not. This information will also help you in deciding if you should opt to use your POAs from different jurisdictions in England and in Wales.

What You Need to Know

According to a 2018 survey by the TV show 'A Place in the Sun,' shown on Channel 4, the top ten destinations for Britons when buying homes abroad are Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, U.S. (Florida), Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Turkey, and Croatia.

Exactly how many British people live abroad? It's difficult to be exact. However, the data collected by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the United Nations estimated that the population of Britons living overseas are within 900,000 to 1,300,000.

Under the Hague Convention of 2000, signatory countries agreed that foreign POA can be applied to provide representative power under their jurisdiction. Usually, to use POA in other jurisdictions, your lawyer needs to use the apostille service, which will return documents with apostille certificates.

You may also need to have POAs ratified at embassies based in the U.K. or be translated by apostille service providers. Although this can delay the process for a few days and can add extra pressure during difficult situations, early planning might save you from all the trouble. Unfortunately, POA based in the U.K. may not always be accepted abroad. Sometimes, its recognition may be delayed in foreign jurisdictions. Likewise, in the U.K., a foreign POA may not be accepted even with an apostille certificate.

Foreign countries can provide different powers for POA and can reject POA based in the U.K. If you wish your POA to be accepted in a foreign jurisdiction, it is imperative to remember that further capacity assessment is another potential minefield when applying for POA based in the UK.

A notary and registrants in foreign jurisdictions may even disagree over whether the requirements for capacity and scope of U.K.-based POA are equivalent to foreign POA. Legal disputes and bureaucratic delays can cause great difficulties even with apostille certificates and ratification of the embassy. This is what POA based in the U.K. wants to avoid.

For example, the Spanish legal dispute in 2016 ended when the UK-based POA was rejected during the purchase of the property. In addition, the Canadian POA is not accepted by the Protection Court in the U.K. because it has not been approved by the foreign court. Under duress, such legal setback can cause significant and unnecessary problems for you.

As a final note, Scotland and Northern Ireland have different jurisdictions and processes for establishing POAs. Even in the U.K., there are medical facilities and financial organizations not based in England and in Wales that do not automatically receive documents prepared under the Protection Court. Although this example serves as an extreme case, such a scenario emphasizes your need to reconsider what you will do if you were in a similar situation.

What Are Your Options

Instead of making you or your loved ones stressed out by such difficult situations, it's far better to seek legal advice abroad or from qualified foreign legal professionals in the U.K. when dealing with your property in foreign countries.

Whether you own a property in France or enjoy winters in Florida, even if you merely spend your leisure time traveling between England and Scotland from time to time, it is a wiser move to consider taking legal advice in the appropriate jurisdiction. For the time and the money spent in doing this, protecting your family from undue pressure during such difficult circumstances is a more relatively attractive option.

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