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Notarial powers of attorney

 A power of attorney is a public document notarised by a notary and allowing a person or company to appoint another as legal representative to act on its behalf in certain legal acts, which means that the representative will need to accredit his status as attorney-in-fact by presenting an authentic copy of the power of attorney.

The principal is in theory free to revoke the power at any time, calling on the representative to return the authentic copy of the power of attorney. If the latter refuses, then a notarial instrument of revocation of power of attorney will need to be executed, with notice of the revocation being served on the representative via a notary, who need not be the same as the one before whom the power of attorney was initially executed.

The electronic signature recognised among notaries allows for remote and immediate electronic dispatch of authentic copies of powers of attorney between different notary offices without the need for dispatch of the authentic copy on paper, thereby saving valuable time in the execution of the instrument in which the attorney-in-fact will be involved.

Spanish notarial powers of attorney are internationally recognised. The so-called Hague Apostille allows the legal efficacy of a power of attorney to be recognised among signatory states of the Hague Convention (there are now very few countries that have not adhered to this Treaty). The apostille comprises an annotation on the notarial public document certifying the authenticity of public documents issued in another country.

Classes of power of attorney

There are different types of power of attorney, which must each be individually drawn up and handled. Consult your notary for advice as to which best suits your interests.

In some cases the aim is to delegate the greatest number of powers on the representative, including within the power of attorney a hugely extensive range of acts that the representative will be able to perform on behalf of the principal, in which case this is known as a general power of attorney. In truth, though, there are as many configuration possibilities for a power of attorney as acts or forms of business that permit the concept of representation. Particular mention should be made here of powers of attorney for lawsuits (entitling a court agent to appear in proceedings on behalf of another person), power of attorney to contract marriage (if the two spouses reside in different locations), and in general any other referring to acts that permit the function of representation. It should be borne in mind that there are some acts or forms of legal business for which representation is not permitted, such as, for example, the possibility of issuing a will, which, except in some devolved autonomous legal systems, is deemed to be a supremely personal act.

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