Children buying property abroad
Posted on Tue 25th March 2014 1.25PM Notarial

Occasionally I run up against an issue of legal capacity. Sometimes this involves the position of children as owners of property abroad. The age of majority varies from country to country, as does the age at which a child can hold property, by which I mean land. In England, a child cannot hold land in his or her own name. The land rather has to be held on trust by at least two adults, often the parents.

Notaries are sometimes asked to notarise a child's signature for a power of attorney which is to be used to buy property abroad in the child's name. Even if the child can legally hold land in its name in the country concerned, this still causes a problem because usually any document executed in England has to be valid according to English rules. If a power of attorney to enable someone to buy land in, say, France is invalid in England because of age then it is likely to be invalid in France too.

The answer may be for the parents to buy the land. However, another problem then arises. In France, to continue the example, the concept of a trust is not found (there are some more limited types of arrangement which resemble a trust to some extent) and not understood! This really is a case for specialist advice before starting down this route.


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