Legal tools for Spain’s elderly population: Notaries and the role they play

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Spain’s aging population has brought about significant demographic changes, making the role of notaries in safeguarding the rights and legal security of the elderly increasingly important.

In the first half of 2023, notaries authorized a remarkable 9,256 documents related to advanced directives, marking a substantial 51% increase from the 6,131 documents in 2022. This upward trend, except for a dip in 2020 due to the pandemic, has been consistently on the rise, reaching 13,230 acts in 2022.

Advanced Directives and Testamentary Deeds

Advanced directives, which allow individuals to express their medical treatment preferences for times when they cannot communicate their wishes, have shown a continuous increase year after year.

In addition to these directives, there is a growing demand for open wills. These wills enable a person to designate their heirs, determine the distribution of their estate, appoint executors, and make other significant decisions regarding their succession after death.

Property Transfers and Powers of Attorney

Another significant notarial act involves the transfer of property in exchange for care or income, where individuals transfer assets to a third party in return for a pension or maintenance.

Moreover, general or preventive powers of attorney, also known as lasting powers of attorney, have gained popularity. These powers allow individuals to empower others to make a wide range of legal and financial decisions on their behalf.

Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgages have also gained traction. In this arrangement, the property owner receives a lump sum or regular income by using their property as collateral while retaining ownership and residence rights until death.

Overall Trends in Notarial Acts

Between January 2017 and June 2023, notaries executed a total of 5,543,340 wills, powers of attorney, advanced directives, property transfers, and reverse mortgages. Despite an overall increase in notarial acts since 2017, the trend has been uneven.

The pandemic caused a significant decline in 2020, and there was a slight decrease of 0.4% in 2018. However, in 2022, there was a modest increase of 0.06% compared to 2017, with a total of 903,916 acts. 2023 started strongly, showcasing the best first semester since 2017 with 494,896 acts, indicating a 6.2% growth compared to 2022, which had 465,963 acts.

Variability in Demand

While wills remain the most demanded of the five categories, their numbers have fluctuated, decreasing by 2.6% in 2022 compared to 2021. On the other hand, the trend for powers of attorney has been consistently positive since 2017, showing an 8.2% increase in 2022 compared to 2021.

Since 2017, the total number of notarial powers (general and preventive/lasting) authorized amounts to 1,161,365 acts.

Source: This information is based on a report from the Centro de Información Estadística del Notariado, reflecting the evolving needs and the increasing role of notarial services in Spain’s elderly population.

The Value of a Bilingual Lawyer in Spain

In navigating the complexities of these legal matters, the assistance of a proficient bilingual lawyer in Spain becomes invaluable. Such a professional can provide comprehensive guidance in both Spanish and English, ensuring that non-native speakers fully understand their legal options.

A skilled bilingual lawyer can help secure your future with the best legal instruments tailored to your needs and circumstances. Whether it involves drafting advanced directives, managing estate planning, or executing reverse mortgages, a bilingual lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected and your wishes accurately represented, offering peace of mind for your later years.

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