July 26, 2006 at 2:45 pm #52040
I am acting as Executor of my late brother-in-law’s estate which includes a holiday property in Spain, which he had only bought weeks before his death in February 2005. Among his papers were some details of the transaction including the name of the firm of Spanish solicitors he had used. It is the firm that, I believe, had been recommended to him by the estate agents, Atlas International based in Dorking, as it would appear they are the official solicitors for Atlas.
The solicitors have guided me on what has needed doing and we are now at the stage that an NIE number has been obtained, a Power of Attorney executed in favour of the solicitors to enable them to act on my behalf and I am waiting to hear from them that the Title Deeds have been registered with the Spanish equivalent of the Land Registry. Atlas Resales in Spain have advised that they cannot act to sell the property until this latter act has been completed.
In May 2005 I sent, at their request, 3000€ to cover Notary and other fees and taxes related to the Registration of the Inheritance. However, in May this year I was asked to send 9000€ to conclude the formalities with the land registry office. The letter requesting these funds goes on to say “until such time as the aforementioned funds are received we are unable to proceed further with the transaction, therefore, possible fines may be incurred”. I wrote back to say that I wanted full details of how the 3000€ paid last year had been spent before parting with further money. In the same letter I commented that I had not been impressed with the service I was receiving as most of my letters and e-mails go unanswered until I have sent several chasers. I am not surprised that I have, as yet, received no reply to my letter of reply, which I sent on 2nd June.
I was asked to make the cheque for 9000€ payable to Atlastax International SL so I am wondering if there is any point in going down to Dorking to speak to someone in their office there. I am reluctant to go to Spain.
Is my brief account of the actions, or lack of, of the Spanish solicitors typical? Is there a Spanish equivalent of the Law Society or Ombudsman to whom I could complain? Technically I cannot fault the solicitors, although until very recently they have been addressing letters to my late brother-in-law despite several letters asking them to write to me, but the almost total lack of courtesy in failing to respond to my correspondence I find very hard to take.
July 26, 2006 at 3:00 pm #64152
I cannot give you any useful advice about Spanish probate. However, you should think very carefully about sending money to a firm if you have lost confidence in their ability to efficiently handle your case. In any case, you should have received detailed summary of costs and taxes due because these are predictable.
Their are many excellent law firms available and you will find a shortlist at:
July 26, 2006 at 3:28 pm #64153
I should go and see Atlas International in Dorking and sort this out.
If the money has to go through them then it would appear they are receiving a percentage.
The firm is prominently placed on western edge of Dorking town
Although it has been around for some years I am unable to comment on their business ethics and practices.
Hopefully they are okay.
Once you are in a position to sell the property though wouldn’t it be best to sell it via an independant agencyand lawyer rather than Atlas resales and their legal team?
July 27, 2006 at 7:45 am #64166
From experience I can tell you that Spanish Solicitors DO NOT communicate at all well and your experience seems so very typical. pressure is generally the only solution with these so called professionals.
I can only guess that the initial 3000 € would have been costs associated with transferring the Deeds into your name and would consist of Land Registry, Notary and Solicitors fees plus Taxes. Your Solicitor should have given you a written breakdown of costs on request at the start of proceedings.
On the death of a person in Spain Inheritance Tax (as much as 35% on the increased price of a property, ie profit) is due BEFORE the property can be transferred. This could be the 9,000€.
I have learnt these facts from the following books, available from most good book shops in UK.
“You and the Law in Spain” by David Searl, ISBN 84-89954-32-1
Buying a Home in Spain” by David Hampshire, ISBN 1-901130-36-3
I can tell you that contrary to all of the TV programs, buying a house in Spain and dealing with the legal aspects is the most frustrating and difficulty thing I have ever experienced. GOOD LUCK.
July 27, 2006 at 12:03 pm #64174
what is it with spanish solicitors? why are they so bloody slow at answering a simple question, even when close to a completion date? Even an acknowledgement would be nice, at least you would know it has been found, and not sitting either ignored or in a spam folder? I sent one e-mail 12 days ago and 5 days ago another one asking for news regarding the first one and still nothing?
July 27, 2006 at 8:41 pm #64186
If you are unsure your solicitor has not received his emails then send a fax attaching your two emails. Fax is legal and cannot go missing so if you do not get a response you will know where you stand. Also when you send your fax demand a reply within 7 days.
Hope this helps.
All the best,
July 27, 2006 at 9:42 pm #64187
John, don’t know where the property is in Spain but these two addresses may be of help:
Consumer Protection Society in Marbella =
Oficina De Proteccion de los Consumidores
Ayuntamiento de Marbella
Plaza de los Naranjos
Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Malaga
Palacio de Justicia de Marbella
Malaga, Espana (fax:- 00-34-952 863 786) (must be in Spanish)
Hope this helps.
All the best,
July 28, 2006 at 6:36 am #64188
thanks for that, we have a fax, i’ll give it a try, though i do know they have recieved our e-mails, as when they do eventually get back to us, they refer to them. It’s just to slow when time is an issue.
July 28, 2006 at 8:35 am #64191
Goodstitch! Do you not have a phone number for your solicitor? I had similar problems with mine, he was always ‘out of office’ or ‘busy’ during office hours. Eventually I got fed up and tracked his personal mobile number. I then purposely rang him at awkward times of the day just to get him to pay attention. It worked too, as he couldnt leave it switched off 24/7. 😆
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