Attorney in Costa Rica

How do powers of attorney in Costa Rica work?

I am legal counsel in San José, Costa Rica, and can provide legal assistance in many legal matters. As an example, a lot of clients ask me about powers of attorney.  What are they, and how are powers of attorney used in Costa Rica?  I hope I can shed some light on this matter. 

What are powers of attorney?

Powers of attorney are mandates given to a third party to represent you or provide legal assistance for a general or a specific matter. Sometimes, they must be notarized and are a  legal service in Costa Rica.   A power of attorney is a mandate the grantor grants to a specific person, called the agent or “attorney, in fact.” In Spanish, the grantor is the “poder-dante,” and the agent is the “apoderado.” Most powers of attorney must be granted through a Notary Public.  Some must even be registered in the Costa Rican Public Registry, or “Registro.” 

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What is the Broadest Power of Attorney? (Poder Generalísimo)

This is the broadest power that you can give to a specific person.  As your legal counsel in Costa Rica, I can draft this power for you in public scripture, as the law requires.  For validity, it must be signed in front of a Notary Public, in his protocol.  Once I prepare it, it must be registered in the Costa Rican Public Registry.

You can revoke any power of attorney in the same manner you granted it: via a notary public in Costa Rica. For this purpose, as a grantor, you can always get my legal assistance. We will revoke the power of attorney in the same manner it was given.

Do you recommend this power of attorney as legal counsel?

This power of attorney allows the agent to sign anything in your name. The agent can give you legal assistance with real estate purchases or sales, mortgage your properties, and buy or sell.  He can pay debts on your behalf, place liens or encumber your properties, file lawsuits, or represent you in legal proceedings. This legal assistance in Costa Rica gives the grantor full power to act on your behalf. As legal counsel, I suggest caution.  You are giving the grantor a “carte blanche” to do almost anything on your behalf.  He can also place liens on vehicles in your name and sign contracts.  The agent can file claims, cancel operations, and open bank accounts.  He can perform all business transactions in the grantor’s name

Can legal counsel be hired to limit this power?

Yes.  You can limit the power of attorney for legal assistance pertaining to specific general acts.  For example, you can grant this power of attorney so the agent can only buy properties in your name.  You can limit the power to those acts only.  But this must be specified in the power itself.  So you would have to be specific that the only legal assistance the agent can provide is property purchases only.  We would determine that he can´t mortgage, sell, or compromise any assets.  

Is this power of attorney used in corporations?

Yes. It’s important to note that corporations in Costa Rica are legal entities and, as such, can´t operate without a person to represent them. Under commercial law in Costa Rica, they must have a person with the broadest power of attorney.  This is true not only to represent them but also to give them legal assistance. This power usually goes to the president of the corporation or manager. Hence, the agent can buy and sell in the company’s name, manage bank accounts, sign contracts, and even mortgage properties.  With exceptions, he requires authorization from the shareholders and board of directors to perform these acts.  


General Power of Attorney. (Poder General)

This power is limited to general administrative functions and is usually given to a sub manager in a corporation. These powers are limited, as the agent can’t buy, sell, or mortgage. He is even unable to rent a property that’s in the name of a corporation. For this, he requires an ample general power of attorney, not a general one. As a legal counsel in Costa Rica, I recommend this power for a general administration and for permit permissions.  This power is not registered in the Public Registry.

Specific Power of Attorney. (Poder Especial)

The specific power of attorney is limited to the act that the power stipulates. These powers are used for one particular action, such as to purchase or sell an asset. They are also granted, for specific bureaucratic acts with the State.  These powers are made out by a notary public but are not registered in the Costa Rican registry.

The General Judicial Power of Attorney. (Poder General Judicial)

These are powers given to legal counsel in Costa Rica.  They are granted to an attorney, for legal representation and legal assistance in judicial proceedings. The general power of attorney, allows the lawyer to file and represent the client in all present and future lawsuits. The General Power must be granted with the participation of a notary public. It must be done in a public scripture and then registered in the Costa Rican Registry.

The specific judicial power of attorney. (Poder Especial Judicial.)

As you might have guessed, this power of attorney can also be given to a lawyer.  However, it´s only used for legal assistance and representation in a particular legal process.  Hence, it does not require a public scripture.  However, you should know that another lawyer or notary must authenticate the signature.

Extraordinary Power of Attorney. (Poder Especialisimo.)

This type of power is granted, for very specific acts, and only when the law requires it. These are the most extraordinary powers that a person can grant to another. They are used for legal assistance in very specific aspects of life that are highly personal. This legal service in Costa Rica is given when unique situations require them, such as a marriage, donations or divorces, regarding  family law. The extraordinary power is granted by the person who wants a third party to sign on his behalf. So if you want someone to receive a donation in your name, get mutually divorced in your name, or marry, this is the power that´s used.   

Conclusion: Powers of attorney are good instruments for legal assistance in Costa Rica.

We can´t be in two places at the same time.  Powers of attorney are a great tool, for legal assistance.  Even if you live outside of Costa Rica, you can grant powers of attorney to a trusted third party, to act in your name. Contact me if you have questions, and I will guide you through all the steps. 

Dr. Christopher Pirie- Legal Counsel in San José, Costa Rica.

 Attorney at law.

Contact me