Bank Accounts Abroad – Today, Spain. Louise Assists.
Increasingly, our clients are seeking our help in the matter of closing down foreign bank accounts – most recently we have received a request to close down a client’s bank account in Spain.
Can we help? – Well yes we can once the paperwork has been prepared. I always advise that the first port of call would be to make contact with a lawyer in the country the bank account is in. It is getting increasingly difficult to pass the stringent tests applied when closing down bank accounts overseas and moving the funds back to England.
It can save a lot of time and therefore money in seeking specialist advice from a Lawyer in the jurisdiction, who of course will be able to speak directly with the bank on your behalf to ascertain the best way forward.
One of the main difficulties one would imagine is the initial communication with the bank – if you do not speak the language, then it can be a frustrating affair to try and obtain instructions when the bank clerk does not speak English as a first language if at all and you do not speak Spanish for example.
We have seen clients who have been advised by one clerk to “just jot down a note to say you wish to close your account and sign before a Notary in England and then get a Foreign Office Apostille” [if you do not know what a Foreign Office Apostille is then see here – a link to my earlier blog-].
Just jot down a note?
I suppose that in a sense the advice is right, but it’s not useful. Because the words of the note you decide to write, are unlikely to be the words of the note that the Bank official had in mind.
If the Bank does not provide the actual text of document of what it needs then the chances of it accepting and acting upon a note written by a layman in English language are remote to say the least.
The classic scenario is that a note is duly written, then Notarised and then endorsed with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Apostille, and paying for a courier to send the “note” directly back to the bank. Job done so the client thinks – Bank receives the document and confirms to the client that “it is very nearly right but not quite! – Sorry you will have to start again”. Frustrating or what? – a costly trial for the poor client!
So what now, well of you go and start again in the hope that this time the bank’s second set of instructions will do the trick – make an appointment with the notary, blah blah blah spend more £??? to hopefully close down the account – again no guarantee – from experience it seems that one bank clerk has a different idea to another bank clerk as to what is actually required and because of the language barrier the poor client ends up going round and round in circles and this can go on and on without having the desired effect.
My advice is to start by seeking seek the guidance of a professional – who will be able to speak in the “mother-tongue” to the bank and ascertain what document(s) are required and your adviser can prepare the wording of such document(s) – this even can be written in the foreign language i.e Spanish for example and emailed across directly to us for you to sign before the Notary – this would mean one visit only and one expense to the Foreign Office.
It is a bit of a no brainer really! Seek guidance from professional and save yourself time and money in the process. But it is the fact that nine out of ten times in our experience this is not done.
The same applies for closing the bank account of a deceased person – if the executors are wishing to close down a foreign account then various documents will need to be submitted – usually notarised and apostilled first – mainly Death Certificate, Grant of Probate etc.. sometimes a notarial certificate is also required if the deceased person died without leaving a Will – the certificate required from the Notary usually sets out England’s intestacy rules – again this will then need to be submitted to the Foreign Office.
So the message is, do not think it will be easier or cheaper to try to do what the first Bank Clerk suggests and cut out the lawyers, in relation to foreign Bank accounts and assets generally.
Instead, come and have a word with me and I will put you on the right track.
Really this guidance is good for all aspects for preparation and execution of documents for use abroad. I suppose people understand that a technical document like a court paper or a Power of Attorney will need professional guidance, but assume that the closing of a Bank account should and will be simple. Rookie error!
Don’t get it wrong – song here –
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