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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

N.B. Notary Bene
Saturday, August 7, 2021 @ 1:10 PM

Most of us only go to the Notary when we buy or sell a house here. However, Pablo de Ronda has discovered that these legal officials offer a range of other services, which preclude the need to hire expensive lawyers, accountants and gestores.

The first time I went to a notario here in Spain was nearly 20 years ago when my first wife and I bought a little apartment in the Barrio San Francisco in Ronda.

As a precaution we had arranged for her to get a Power of Attorney, again at the notary, in case for any reason she were unable to fly out to attend the notary’s office for the completion on the property purchase. A good job we did, as our daughter had an emergency appendix operation just days before our scheduled appointment with the notary and mum couldn’t come after all.

So, with my brother for moral support, we flew to Málaga airport on the 1 December 2001 and drove in our hire car up to Ronda for a long weekend, which included the signing at the notary on the 2nd.


Since then, I’ve been to the notary for the purposes of buying or selling houses a number of times, either for me/us or as an interpreter for other people.

One conclusion I have now drawn is that for transacting property you don’t need to bother to have a lawyer in tow; that’s just a waste of money. I know that’s contrary to all the advice, but the notary is there to ensure “fair play” and to protect the interests of all parties, and is more than enough as a safety net. If you don’t have Spanish, invest in a translator or interpreter instead – they’re much cheaper than a lawyer.

Other matters which you can deal with at the notary, apart from transacting houses and taking out powers of attorney, include changing the title on a property, leases, making a will, prenuptial agreements, divorce, inheritance issues, usufructs and much more.

Who or what is a Spanish notary? ..... Though they earn their fees from private individuals and companies, notaries are essentially public officials who play a neutral role in drafting and witnessing many types of contracts in Spain.

Notaries are both civil servants and legal professionals, dedicated to confirming the nature of a document or testimony according to Spanish Law. Therefore, once a document is validated and signed by a notary, such a document will be fully legal for trials, complaints, police reports, registries, or any other legal procedure.

The type of final document produced by a notary is called an “escritura pública” (public deed). These documents have a legal, authentic and executable nature, which don’t require any further validations, and are recognised and approved by all Spanish public entities, the judiciary, as well as the whole of Spanish society.

Once the final notary document is produced, you will get an attested copy, called a copia autorizada or copia simple. The original document with the signatures is kept at the notary’s office or archive.

I’ve used a notary on three occasions for changing the title on properties here, at the time of my divorce, when we owned two properties which were to become mine under the terms of our divorce settlement, and recently when the Meter Maid and I decided to tidy up our somewhat complicated inheritance affairs. With my first wife I had to effectively “purchase” her half and pay the purchase tax. Not cheap!

In the case of my current wife we did it differently, in that she “donated” her half share in our marital home to me. Because of my advanced age, there was no tax to pay, although the notary’s fee was a lot higher than expected.

By the way, notarial fees are laid down in law and cannot be altered. So you pay the same amount for the same job whichever notary you go to.

Most recently I used a notary to write a new Will. I just told the lawyer at the notary what I wanted to do, who was to get what, and, Bob’s your uncle, a few days later I had a last Will and Testament in both Spanish and English ….. for just 45€!

My previous Spanish Will, done through a lawyer 10 years previously, had cost me a hefty 300€!

So, nota bene, the moral of this story is, for anything legal, consult a notary before you go to a lawyer. You could save a small fortune!

Like 2


Lagalesa said:
Saturday, August 14, 2021 @ 12:28 PM

Gracias, Pablo! We have only ever used notaries when buying and selling property - but also with abogados! My other half used one to notarise copies of his passport and driving licence.

Interesting to see they can do wills - if we need to change ours in the future, we'll do it through a notary as it appears they are considerably cheaper than solicitors!!

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