Power Of Attorney Explained


So you’ve decided to go ahead and buy a holiday home in Italy but it’s not possible for you get over to sign the contracts at the final act. What can you do?

Set up a power of Attorney to give another person the chance to close the deal for you. Sounds simple and I’m often asked how this is achieved. So here’s a post to answer questions about using a PoA to buy or sell a property in Italy.

What is a power of attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a written permission given by you ‘the donor’ to a third party known as ‘the attorney’ which legally authorises the attorney to carry out certain acts on your behalf.
Most people grant the Power of Attorney to their legal representative, but it need not be a lawyer, you can give the power to a friend, your agent or a relative; the only stipulation in Italy is that the person acting upon your behalf must be an Italian resident.

Is it risky?
As you are essentially giving someone the legal right to act on your behalf it does involve an element of risk. It is vital that whoever you instruct to act upon your behalf is reliable and reputable as you are ultimately responsible for all acts that your attorney does on your behalf  as if you had done these yourself, (provided they are within the scope of the Power of Attorney). In the case of signing the documents for your property purchase the risk is low as you are in effect only giving them the power to sign the final act in your absence and nothing more.

How do you arrange a Power of Attorney?
You can set this up after your viewing trip before you leave Italy. Your overseas lawyer will prepare a bilingual Power of Attorney document, this must then be signed by you in the presence of a notary here in Italy.

If the power is signed in the UK it will need to be signed in the presence of an appropriate notary. A quick call to the Italian consulate should tell you where the nearest notary is to you. (Remember to take your passport and other documents of identification). After the document has been signed in the UK you’ll need it to be legalised with a Hague Convention Apostille by the Legalisation Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to be valid for use in Italy.

How much does it cost?
English notary charges are between £100 and £150 per document, but do check the fees in advance and shop around you may get a better price from another notary. The fee for the apostille is currently £30 per document if paid for online and slightly more if paid by another method.