Q. I am in the process of purchasing an Italian property. I currently have several key legal matters to address but I do not have an Italian lawyer representing me at this point. Unfortunately, I do not have time to fly to Italy. Would it be possible for someone else to represent me and formalize the purchase on my behalf so I can avoid travelling back and forth?
A. Yes, it is possible to have someone else complete the Italian property purchase or any other affair in Italy on your behalf by means of a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney gives another person the ability to legally represent you in one or more affairs, including to formalize a property purchase on your behalf. You can grant an Italian lawyer (avvocato), or any other person you trust, the power to represent you and act on your behalf in all the formalities required by the Italian law. A Power of Attorney can be as vast or restricted as you need, meaning that it can be limited to one specific formality, or can include the powers to handle all the aspects where your presence and signature would be necessary (for example, negotiate and determine the purchase price, declare personal circumstances, apply for tax reductions). You might even include the power to apply for and sign a mortgage loan. In this manner you can complete all needed formalities for your Italian property purchase without being present in Italy.
A Power of Attorney to be used in Italy can also be signed abroad, for example in your home country or wherever you are temporarily located. It used to be pssible for anyone to go to do so to any Italian Consulates abroad. However, in 2011 Italian consular policies changed due to budget cuts: Italian Consulates and Italian Embassies no longer provide non-Italian citizens with notarial authentication services, including on a Power of Attorney to be used in italy. There are however suitable alternative options to sign a Power of Attorney document abroad. You can go to any foreign notary or solicitor to authenticate a signature on a Power of Attorney.
Our office has successfully assisted foreign clients preparing hundreds of Powers of Attorney documents abroad. These documents have been preparred for all sorts of matters, such as to buy or sell Italian property, to incorporate Italian companies, to carry out Italian inheritance claims and cross-border successions procedures, to formalize inheritance property transfers, to accept or refuse Italian inheritance, to start a dispute in Italy.
It is also advisable to have a Power of Attorney done when a non Italian-speaking party is involved in a deed to take place in Italy in front of an Italian notary public (e.g., property purchase or property sale), even if such non-Italian speaking party would be available to sign the deed in person. When a non-Italian speaking party is invovled in person in a notarial deed (sucha as a property transaction), the law requires such deed to be drawn up in two languages, i.e., in Italian and in a language understood by the non-Italian speaking party. Also, the law requires that an interpreter is involved in the deed. These requirements have an impact on transaction costs. A notary meeting with a non-Italian speaking party takes more time thus notaries charge higer fees. Also, a longer deed requires higher stamp duty charge. Finally, there is interpreter's fee. The cost to prepare a Power of Attorney document might be the same or less than the additional costs of in person signing. Also, a Power of Attonrey allows more flexibility in the event of lastiminute need to reschedule completion.
Our firm has established procedures for people located abroad, for instance in the UK, Ireland, U.S.A., Australia, to complete an international Power of Attorney document valid for use in Italy entirely via email and courier. Our protocol does not involve Consular Offices which makes the process more flexible and easier for our Client. Depending on the country where the Power of Attorney document has to be signed and specific circumstances, this can be carried out in as fast as five business days. The cost for our service from start to finish is EUR 395 + taxes + stamp duty (currently EUR 16).
We handle the international Powers of Attorney process in a professional manner to provide our clients with the smoothest process possible, as follows:
- We consult with the client to understand the specific needs and advise on Power of Attorney powers and content;
- We draft the Power of Attorney as per Client's specific needs;
- We advise and assist the Client to validate the Power of Attorney for use in Italy. Each country has different requirements to formalize an international Power of Attorney. This means that the process varies from client to client not only in accordance with their needs, but also depending on their location at the time of the formalization. Based on client’s location, the legal team defines the appropriate procedure to follow and establishes the easiest means for the client to carry out the formalization;
- We advise our client with step-be-step instructions to carry out the formalization procedure in the easiest and quickest way possible;
- We send the PoA to the client via email. Typically, the Power of Attorney is signed in front of a local notary public where our client is located and then returned to our offices via postal service;
- We carry out the necessary steps to make the international Power of Attorney valid in Italy.
Given that bureaucratic offices are involved, the full formalization process can take a few weeks. The involved timing mainly depends on factors such as the formalities required by the country where the Power of Attorney is signed and the related applicable domestic and international treaties and regulations.
Based on our experience in completing hundreds of international Powers of Attorney documents, timing estimate from when we receive all needed information to when the Power of Attorney is finalized and ready to be used in Italy is as follows:
Client Location Average Time to Finalize a PoA
Ireland 1 to 2 weeks
UK 1 to 3 weeks
USA 2 to 4 weeks
Australia 2 to 4 weeks
Greece 3 to 6 weeks
Russia 3 to 6 weeks
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