The impact of COVID-19 on Spanish estatesMarch 27, 2020
Jonathan Eshkeri, Director of ILM corporate partner E&G Solicitors in Spain, talks about the impact of Covid-19 on Spanish estates…
As you will almost certainly know, as a result of the current international health crisis, Spain has declared a state of emergency and everyone is confined to their homes, other than to shop for food or medical supplies close to their homes, to do essential work, or to walk the dog. The confinement of the Spanish population in their homes and the closure of Spain’s land, sea and air terminals to all but Spanish nationals, although plainly essential for the well being of millions of people and the sustained effectiveness of the Spanish healthcare service, has had a significant impact on the administration of Spanish estates for UK charities.
In the UK, social distancing has meant that the provision of services by Notaries Public has become virtually impossible, or at least extremely difficult, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has ceased its legalisation activity until further notice, such that it is impossible to legalise documents in the UK for use in Spain, or anywhere else for that matter.
Registering Spanish assets
The effect of COVID-19 on the administration of Spanish estates is that wherever we have already received legalised documentation we can register Spanish estate assets in the names of charities. Unless a purchaser has already been found to purchase a particular property, we will have to wait until the period of confinement ends and the marketing of the property can continue. Hence, the realisation of the estate assets is delayed.
In those cases in which we have yet to obtain legalised documentation, or where charities have yet to grant a power of attorney for us to administer the Spanish estate on their behalf, there is still a great deal of work that we can do in anticipation of things returning to something approaching normal.
We can ask charities to approve the content of draft documentation to be signed by them, we can prepare documentation to be signed in Spain once we receive formal authority for us to do so, we can obtain any necessary certificates and other pertinent documentation, and we can have documentation translated into Spanish where required, holding documents in the UK until legalisation is once again possible, before sending it to Spain and executing documentation on behalf of the charities.
Very frequently a Spanish estate will include real estate of some sort, so that the value of the property is key. It is difficult to comment on the current state of the Spanish property market, particularly the types of holiday property that have been purchased by Brits historically, because no one is visiting properties with a view to purchasing them, so no offers are being made and none are being accepted. Of course, the same is true in the UK. Before this crisis, in what was still a very weak property market in Spain, buyers determined the value of property. Hence, patiently, we shall have to wait and see how the net value of Spanish estates is affected by COVID-19.