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Copyright John Howell 2010

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Lawyers and Legal Advice

Only an idiot buys a property - wherever it is located and whatever the type of property - without getting good and, above all else, INDEPENDENT legal advice.

Agents and developers will often tell you that this is not necessary.  They will tell you that 'in this country it works differently' or 'in this country we only have to get the title witnessed by a local notary'.

Well, they are wrong.  If you do not take good legal advice the chances of your purchase 'going wrong' increase dramatically.  The consequences of this are usually very expensive.

Even if you speak the local language fluently - and most buyers do not - there will be many issues that you should discuss with your lawyer.  Surveys.  Valuations.  The best ownership structure to reduce tax or inheritance problems.  Is the contract fair?    Does the property have all of the necessary licences to allow you to do what you want to do?   Does it have good legal title, free of debts and other burdens?  Even if you are buying in a country where a notary must (by law) be involved in the process, most of these issues will not be addressed by most notaries in most countries.  They do not see it as part of their job to do so.

So do yourself a favour.  Take some INDEPENDENT legal advice.

'Independent' does not mean from the estate agent or developers lawyer!  Insist on using someone who you know in working for you alone.  Insist on your advisers answering the key questions in writing and make sure that you understand the answers given.

What are the key questions?  They will depend upon the country where you are buying and upon your personal circumstances.

The International Law Partnership Ltd (http://www.ilplaw.com/) is a company giving you access to carefully chosen lawyers, acccountants and other professionals from around the world.  Those lawyers work to agreed procedures and The International Law Partnership Ltd will supply you with a suggested list of Key Questions that your lawyers should answer for you.

If you feel that you need advice in the UK - perhaps about how to minimize your tax liabilities (which can save you a fortune, even on the purchase of a simple holiday home or investment property) or about taking a broader, international, view of your property investment or inheritance planning stategy, then John Howell & Co (http://www.jhco.org/) have over 30 years' experience.