The role of the notary in Spain can be a little confusing to people who are not familiar with the system here. We’d like to introduce you to Doña Tatiana Martín Ruiz, the notary that many Ábaco clients have already had the pleasure of meeting.
If you have bought a property in Spain then you will already know something about the notary. The Spanish notary is a respected individual within the Spanish law system who certifies documents and makes sure that private agreements fulfil specific legal criteria.
If you are in a Spanish town centre and you look up, chances are that you may see the characteristic notary sign which indicates that a notary is located nearby. Each Spanish notary has a stamp and signature which is used to endorse the documents they are asked to inspect. They are responsible for bringing these documents into the public domain and have a strict code to follow.
It’s not easy to become one. Notaries must prepare for many years and pass difficult examinations. Tatiana studied for four years initially to achieve ‘la Carrera de Derecho’ which is a general qualification to practise law. She then studied for another four years for the actual title of notary. The exact time needed depends on the individual and it can take as long as eight years in some cases.
Tatiana has now been a notary for 21 years, taking up her first position in 1996. She was initially based in the province of Zamora which is a very different place to that of the costas. Zamora has far fewer foreigners and so in Tatiana’s original position, there were usually different documentation requirements.
A varied and challenging job
Every day in Tatiana’s life as a notary is different. However, some documentation is more likely to require her scrutiny than others. She is often asked to verify civil documents such as wills, powers of attorney, conveyancing contracts, mortgages and inheritance paperwork. Less commonly, there are documents linked to businesses and banks and she is also involved in verifying marriage, separation and divorce contracts.
Tatiana is now based in new offices very close to those of Ábaco. They are purpose-built and include many different rooms in which work can be done prior to the formal verification process.
Meeting rooms enable larger groups of people to congregate as can be the case during a conveyancing transaction.
It’s a very impressive place and very busy too. However, Tatiana doesn’t conduct all her business from there. She will sometimes be called out to complete a particular service such as visiting a hospital so that a seriously ill person can have their will verified.
The aspect of Tatiana’s job she enjoys most is working directly with clients, especially when she is able to solve a problem for them. Although she enjoys all aspects of her job, if pushed she is less enthusiastic about commercial and banking law and prefers her work in a civil capacity.
Some unusual tasks
During Tatiana’s time as a notary she has been required to verify a huge amount of very different documentation. However, one that stands out as being rather unusual was during her first placement in Zamora. ‘I was asked to verify photos of a nightclub which had collapsed following a huge overnight snowfall. Fortunately no one had been injured.’
Tatiana has also been called out to certify the contents of safe deposit boxes when the owners have disappeared over a long period of time. ‘The bank needs to have a notary present in order to verify what’s found inside,’ explains Tatiana. ‘Occasionally there are unexpected objects and it is a rather unusual undertaking.’
Most of the time, however, Tatiana can be found helping check documentation for those starting out in their new life in Spain, or perhaps as they sell and make the decision to leave the country. Either way, her friendly and sympathetic manner is something which Ábaco clients and Ábaco staff very much appreciate.
The role of the notary
- Advises parties of the formalities and procedures involved
- Drafts the required documents
- Certifies publicly the facts, acts and agreements that take place in front of him/ her
Documents signed before the notary include:
- Marital status documents
- Last wills and testaments
- Marriage settlements
- General contracts and agreements
- Inheritance declarations and requests from heirs
- Loans, mortgages and other debts
- Power of attorney