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How to Buy a House in Italy Through the Power of Attorney

Posted by on in Buying process

Since March 2020 travelling around the world has been difficult and we have had to face various unexpected situations. In 2020/2021 we had many clients who were supposed to come to complete their house purchase here in Abruzzo but were unable to leave their home countries due to worldwide travel bans.

In these last two years we have learned how the process of international Power of Attorney works in several countries, and through this article we are happy to share the information with you and the expert knowledge gained so far.

Once you have chosen the perfect house in Italy for you, maybe through virtual tours with your real estate agent, you can also purchase it from abroad through the Power of Attorney.

Obviously, the process of obtaining a valid Power of Attorney is slightly different according to the country where you live, but its principles are mainly the same all over the world.

Table of contents

  1. What is a Power of Attorney?
  2. How much does it cost to get a Power of Attorney in Italy?
  3. Differences between a Special or a General Power of Attorney
  4. Who provides the Power of Attorney?
  5. How does it work to obtain an internationally valid Power of Attorney? What is Apostille?
  6. How to obtain a Power of Attorney with Apostille in the USA?
  7. How to obtain a Power of Attorney with Apostille in the UK?

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is an agreement between two parties: a “principal” and an “attorney in fact”. The “attorney in fact” need not be an attorney at law commonly known as a lawyer. A power of attorney gives the rights to act on behalf of the principal.

Attorneys are Trustees of their principals.

In the specific matter of buying a house in Italy and not being able to attend in person the final signing in front of an Italian Public Notary, you can appoint an attorney in Italy, namely a trusted person who can sign the documents on your behalf.

It is very important to stress the fact that Attorneys in fact are Trustees of their principals.

When someone has a fiduciary duty to someone else, the person with the duty must act in a way that will benefit someone else, usually financially.

How much does it cost to get a Power of Attorney in Italy?

The Attorney should act for free on your behalf, because the fiduciary relationship is something invaluable, i.e. not given according to a price or under the payment of a fee.

The person you appoint to act on your behalf should not charge you anything to undertake this responsibility.

This is a matter of principles and loyalty; therefore it is a service that is invaluable.

The legal cost to have a Power of Attorney written by an Italian Notary is generally 100,00 Euro. This price may increase a little and reach 200,00 euro in the case of specific needs or urgencies. We have never heard of higher prices.

Differences between a Special or a General Power of Attorney

General powers of attorney allow the Attorney to take any legal action their principals may take. For example, the Attorney could open or close bank accounts in the principal's name, invoke or waive the principal's contractual rights, or buy or sell stocks for the principal. A principal may grant a limited power of attorney by placing restrictions in the power of attorney.

Special powers of attorney are much more limited in comparison to General powers of attorney. In fact, Special powers of attorney are restricted to just certain situations. A principal provides his Attorney with the power to act on just one single legal matter, for instance the signing for the purchase of a property.

Normally, a special power of attorney is valid just for the completion of a single legal matter and only remains effective for the duration of the completion of that specific legal matter.

Who provides the Power of Attorney?

If you are buying a house in Italy and you are unable to travel to attend the signing in person, the Notary in charge of your purchase can provide a Power of Attorney for you.

It has to be the Notary in charge of your house purchase and not a different Notary, because he will have to list all the legal data of the property and therefore he should already be in possession of all the necessary documents of the property.

Please note that an Italian public notary, or notaio, is a public officer who operates in every area of law and is empowered by the Italian State to draft or authenticate documents, agreements or contracts. Unlike a lawyer representing the interests of a client, a notary places neutrality and fidelity to the law above all. As officers vested with the rights of official authority by the state, Italian public notaries act as a guarantee of legality and authenticity to all functions overseen by them.

How does it work to obtain an internationally valid Power of Attorney? What is Apostille?

To be valid in Italy (or in other different States), your Power of Attorney must be provided of an Apostille.

An Apostille is basically the authentication of a legal document for use in another country. The apostille certificate confirms the signature, seal or stamp on a document to be genuine so that it will be accepted when presented in another country.

The Apostille system has been established through the Hague Apostille Convention in order to specify the modalities through which a document issued in one of the contracting states can be certified for legal purposes in all the other contracting states.

How to obtain a Power of Attorney with Apostille in the USA?

If you are an American citizen buying a house in Italy through a Power of Attorney (PoA), you should follow the procedure below:

  1. The notary here in Italy will provide a PoA in Italian language.

  2. You must have it translated by a qualified translator of your choice.

  3. Once you have both the Italian PoA and its English version, you can go to sign the Italian version in front of a Notary in your city or town. You can show the English version to the Notary in order to prove that you are aware of what you are signing.

  4. Once you have signed both PoAs in front of a Notary, you will have to send them to the Secretary of State to get them legalized with an Apostille. You should legalize both the English and the Italian versions.

  5. When the Secretary of State returns the PoA documents with Apostille you will have to mail the hardcopies to your Attorney in Italy.

Please note that the document valid in Italy is the Italian one, the English is just for your own understanding.

How to obtain a Power of Attorney with Apostille in the UK?

If you are a UK citizen buying a house in Italy through a Power of Attorney, you should follow the procedure below:

  1. The notary here in Italy will provide a PoA in Italian language.

  2. You must have it translated by a qualified translator of your choice.

  3. Once you have both the Italian PoA and its English version, you can go to sign them both in front of a Notary there in your city/town. You can show the English version to the Notary in order to prove that you are aware of what you are signing.

  4. Once you have signed both PoAs in front of a Notary, you will have to send them for legalization (An Apostille must be applied on the documents). Your notary should advise you on how to contact a reliable legalization service in the UK.

(In the UK we have been working with a London based legalization services company called VISTRA who can also offer the service to send the legalized documents directly to your Attorney).

If you need any help with your PoA feel free to contact us. We will be more than happy to share our knowledge with you!!