Another question often heard is, 'what is the difference between an abogado (not to be confused with avocado) and a notario?'.

Abogado

An abogado is the equivalent of a solicitor/lawyer/attorney who acts on behalf of a client for a fee. Abogados belong to the Colegio de Abogados. The Colegio de Abogados is, in effect, the controlling body for lawyers and they publish a list of minimum fees to be charged by its members. The duties of an abogado may include:
  • Handling all aspects of the purchase of a property from the initial contract right up to accompanying the purchaser to the office of the notary.
  • Acting as a 'power of attorney' if needed or asked to do so.
  • Drawing up wills and handling matters relating to an estate.
  • Acting on behalf of a client in legal matters, both civil and criminal, in the same way as a solicitor or lawyer in the UK or an attorney in America.

Notario

A notario, or notary, is a qualified lawyer acting for the state and cannot be employed by or instructed to act on behalf of an individual or client. A notario may point out matters relating to a document, a contract or will for example, but is under no obligation to verify statements or to check the terms, for example, of a contract. His primary task is to legalise a document. A notario will be responsible for legalising, amongst others, the following documents:
  • Wills
  • Power of Attorney
  • A letter
  • The deed of a property (escritura)
  • Copies of passports, driving licences etc
  • Company charters
  • Official minutes of meetings, such as for a Community of Property Owners.
The notario ensures that a document meets the necessary legal requirements and subsequently authorises it, but the drawing up of any such document is the domain of the abogado. The notario may offer advice to the abogado, but it is the responsibility of the abogado to actually prepare everything correctly.