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Foundations are a fantastic tool for estate planning and to structure and administrate your assets, but is a foundation really necessary? The answer to that question is not that simple, as there is no golden rule that is applicable to everyone and everybody. It depends on the type of assets you own and their value. If you purchase titled real estate in Panama you practically have three options: 1. Register the property in your personal name, 2. Register the property in the name of a corporation, 3. Register the property in the name of a foundation. Due to Panamanian inheritance law and its legal procedures I will always recommend my clients to avoid option number 1. Why should I avoid buying real estate in Panama in my personal name? When you own real estate in Panama in your personal name and you have a will, or otherwise you do not have a will, after your demise the procedure for your heirs to claim their inheritance will always be the same in Panama: 1. Your heirs must hire a Panamanian lawyer 2. The lawyer must file a lawsuit of succession (with will/ without will) with the court in Panama. 3. The process of the lawsuit will take from one (1) to two (2) years to be completed (given there are no complications in the process). 4. Meanwhile, you heirs cannot take possession of the assets until the Judge passes judgment in their favor. In other words, it is the Judge who has the order and the last word. 5. According to the minimum fee scheduled established by the Bar Association in Panama the lawyer handling the lawsuit has the legal right to charge 10% to 25% of the total commercial value of the estate as legal fees. Is it better to buy real estate in the name of a corporation of foundation? If you invest in real estate in Panama you should always register the title either in the name of a corporation or foundation in Panama. But using a foundation might not always be the best choice. Why? It depends on the type of real estate and the usage you want to give the property. The character and objective of a foundation in Panama is to hold and protect assets, while a corporation is per se created to execute commercial activities. Foundations in Panama are prohibited to execute regular business activities. So, if you plan to purchase real estate in Panama as a private retirement home and keep the asset as a long-term investment, a foundation sounds like a solid option. But if you want to invest in real estate as a short-term investment in order to rent, sell, and make it a profitable business , a corporation might suit you better. In fact if the property already has a very low cadastral value or a high cadastral value, it might be smart to use a corporation. Are there examples where a foundation is not necessary at all? Yes, I recommend my clients to never ever register a car title in the name of a foundation. Also, if you have a personal (savings) bank account, depending on your bank you can nominate a beneficiary at the bank. After your demise, your designated beneficiary(ies) can access the funds in the bank account (the procedure varies from bank to bank, so comparing different options is recommended). And if you are a permanent renter in Panama and only own a average bank account and a car, using a foundation or even a corporation to hold those assets is not worth it. Stay safe and healthy!
The government of Panama has created over the years more than 50 immigration categories to facilitate the immigration of foreign professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, family members, or retirees. In recent years, Panama has become a popular emigration destination. The constant economic growth, the warmth of the locals, the pleasant climate, the extensive beaches, as well as attractive investment opportunities, and the US dollar as local currency are among the many advantages that Panama offers newcomers. The six most common residence permits in Panama, either as a part-time resident or to stay permanently in the country are: Retire in Panama: "Jubilado Pensionado" visa. The "Friendly Nations" Visa Especially for Italians: "Convenio Panama - Italia" For investors: "Golden Visa” Application for family reunification "Dependiente de Residente Permanente" Panama "Marriage Visa” Step by step: How to get your residence permit We have listed for you the steps to apply for a residence permit in Panama below. The individual procedures may vary in detail depending on the immigration category and the personal situation of each client: Step #1: Choosing a lawyer and first contact: The Immigration Law in Panama requires that all applications for residence permits in the previously mentioned immigration categories must be submitted by a licensed attorney in Panama. Step #2: Which Immigration category fits you: Together with your attorney you select which category suits you best and which are the required documents. Step #3: Compilation of documents: Collect all necessary documents and papers required for the application. Pay attention to the validity of the various documents and take care of the necessary certifications (apostille) in time. Step #4: Review of documents: It is best to email all documents and papers to the lawyer in Panama in advance for review in order to be sure that everything is complete and nothing is missing. At the same time, the documents can already be forwarded for translation in Panama. Step #5: Trip to Panama: Once all documents are ready, a personal trip to Panama is necessary to complete your file and submit the application in person together with your lawyer. Step #6: Completion of your file: Once you have arrived in Panama you will meet with your lawyer and hand over all original documents, sign the lawyer's power of attorney and any other documents necessary, make copies of your passport, fill out the immigration forms, get your health certificate and any other procedure where your personal presence is required. Step #7: Filing your application at the immigration office: As a rule, the file must be complete and all applicants must be present in person in order to submit the application. Step #8: Registration of the passport ("registro de pasaporte"): The registration of the passport is done in advance online by your lawyer. During the application process, all information is checked again and an immigration officer stamps the registration stamp ("sello de registro") in the passport of each applicant. Step #9: Temporary migration card ("carné de migración"): Once the application has been submitted, your status in Panama also changes. You are no longer considered a "tourist" but a "resident". All applicants receive an identity card from the immigration office. This card is valid for six months (enough time to process the application within this period). A photo is taken on-site for the ID card. From now on your migration ID card must be shown at passport control every time you enter or leave Panama. Step #10: Multiply Visa ("visa multiple"): The multiple entry and exit visa is a stamp in the passport that allows you to enter and exit Panama while your residence permit application is being processed. The multiply visa is valid for six months (just like the migration ID card). The Immigration Department takes about 48 hours to issue the Multiply Visa. They will hold your passport for this period. Foreigners (with ongoing immigration proceedings) who leave Panama without having a Multiply Visa stamped in their passport, or whose Multiply Visa has expired, must pay a fine of 2,000.00 US dollars (per person) to the Immigration Department upon re-entry into Panama. Step #11: Processing your application: Upon receipt of the application, the National Immigration Service assigns a case number to the file and transfers it internally to the responsible department in Panama City. After the application has been successfully processed by the responsible caseworker, the decision ("resolución") is reviewed by the head of the department. Then the Director of Immigration signs your resolution and the file finally moves to the Notifications Department. The processing of the application usually takes three to four months. Step #12: Receiving your residence permit and a second trip to Panama: Once the residence permit has been approved, you will be notified by your lawyer. A second trip to Panama is required in order to undergo the notification process and obtain your new migration ID card. Upon completion of this procedure, you will be allowed to stay in the country permanently or temporarily, depending on your immigration category. Foreigners who hold permanent residence status in Panama can also apply for a Panamanian identity card (Panama E-card or Cédula E) at the Civil Registry (Tribunal Electoral). This process is a separate procedure and is not done automatically as part of the application process. The application for the Cédula E must be submitted separately and the decision is forwarded internally by the Immigration Department to the Tribunal Electoral. Subsequently, an appointment at the Tribunal Electoral is required to verify the personal data of the applicant and to take a photo for the Cédula E. The Cédula E is not printed immediately and will be available for pick-up after approximately two to three weeks. It is not mandatory to have a Cédula E. However, in daily life, it facilitates many administrative, legal and/or business procedures such as opening a bank account. Furthermore, the Cédula E is a prerequisite to register with the tax authorities in Panama and to apply for a personal tax number.
The process of buying real estate overseas can be complicated, time-consuming, and stressful. But it should not be like this. Read our guide below on the biggest mistakes buyers make and how you can avoid them: Mistake #1: Location is Everything Almost everything can be fixed, but the location, the location, the location cannot be fixed. Buy location, NOT price. When investing in real estate overseas remember to do your due diligence and pay attention to the small details that can turn your dream home into the home of your worst nightmare. Before buying try to get information from different local sources in order to be sure that the location you chose is really the right one for you. Besides common factors such as traffic connection, security, neighborhood, distance to the nearest hospital, and infrastructures such as supermarkets, shops, and restaurants, it is important to verify the connection to basic public services. That is water, telephone, internet, electricity, and garbage collection. Which are the available providers and how reliable are their services? Are there any (regular) interruptions or connectivity problems with one of the basic services in the sector? Does the availability of one of these services vary according to the season (rainy season/dry season)? Speaking of seasons, although Panama is a tropical country without seasons, there are sub-climates in different areas of the country. Depending on the location and time of the year there are regions that are more humid than others, in certain areas, there is a constant strong wind during the dry season, others where heavy rain falls during certain months of the year, while there are zones suffer from drought during the dry season. Mistake #2: Not thinking about selling the house someday Buyers often forget that they will most likely sell their home at some point. Personal circumstances can change, and eventually, you have to sell. The purchase of a home should be structured well from the beginning to avoid headaches and bad surprises in the future: What will be the taxes to pay when you sell your home? Which legal figure is the most convenient to acquire a property? If something happens to me, what is the quickest and least expensive way to transfer the house to my heirs? Mistake #3: Falling blindly in love with a house Just as in love relationships there are properties that are "problematic". Some details are cosmetic and can be solved in one way or another, but there are real estate options that can be called an "uncontrollable risk". Whether it's a lawsuit, a conflict of interest, or some kind of encumbrance. Unless you like to play Russian roulette, don't get distracted by the "flashy" details of a house. Mistake #4: Trying to buy without a lawyer Last but not least, one of the biggest mistakes we can observe in our legal practice is when buyers try to buy without an attorney. There are too many factors that cannot be calculated and making a mistake is somehow inevitable. Lack of experience combined with the desire to save “some pennies" can have serious consequences. The Laws and the legal basis in Panama are not the same as in other countries. You should not sign contracts or legal documents that were not reviewed by a trustworthy lawyer. If you have doubts about a transaction, seek advice from an experienced lawyer who will not only protect your interests during the purchase transaction, but also your wallet by avoiding problems in the future.
I don't want to clog up this website with loads of listings, so I thought I would share some my links. If you are interested in selling or buying a home in Boquete please click on the links to my website and Facebook page for details. And you don't have to be a member of Facebook! I only list homes on the MLS system here in Panama, so you won't see the same listing plastered on every website. My website is still in the process and my Facebook page is fun and engaging. Log on and give me a like and stay informed with the local real estate business. 25 years experience in Canada. I work with Inside Panama Real Estate Corp and we are proud members of MLS Acobir. Thanks everyone! https://www.facebook.com/movetoboquete/ http://movetoboquete.com/