We are buying a flat in Kolkata.
I guess it's good news. We have been trying for about six years and it has led to multiple false starts and eleventh hour slips. So much of it is that we have not ever really committed to spending a chunk of time in Kolkata where we focused on this.
We almost bought a flat in South City. But the documentation hassles that accompanied it were so ridiculous that we were relieved when our potential seller went off and sold it to somebody for a higher price.
But I digress.
The good news is that the paperwork and legal work around this flat is clearing up fast. The bad news is that it means we have to get a power of attorney generated. I'm documenting what I did here in the hopes that it will help others who are trying to do the same.
I first started off with the assumption that I'd have to go through the Indian Embassy. My visit to our local area Embassy website had a cryptic note that the Indian Embassy would not attest apostilled documents.
The text reads:
Embassy of India will not re-authenticate a public document that has been apostilled by the authorities of the country of origin.
The fact that the Indian Embassy website can use copy editing is a subject for another post. The power of attorney information is tucked away under the 'Miscellaneous Services' section. The miscellaneous services form has a checkbox for Power of Attorney, but they do not tell you that you have to write up the power of attorney letter or have it generated in India and that the miscellaneous services form is just a cover letter.
So, if you are an Indian citizen, or the document is generated in India and mailed to you, then go to this great blog post by Chandan on how he did this. His information is specific to doing it in California, but can be used to figure out how to do it in any state.
My situation is different, in that we are both US citizens, my wife being a PIO card holder. So in our situation, we wanted to give her sister-in-law the ability to act on our behalf for activites around the flat purchase. When I researched what Chandan did, I saw that it was possible to generate the power of attorney (POA) or general power of attorney (GPA) in the US and apostille it for use in India.
Here is the gist of what I found out.
As a result of India becoming a signatory to the Hague convention in 2007, any documents apostilled in the US for use in India are not required to be adjudicated in India. The California Indian Embassy site has a good explanation of this. What this means is that you can write a power of attourney here, and apostille it so that it can be used in India.
What's this apostille business you might ask. Good question.
An apostille is the stamp that one country puts on a document that legalizes it for use in the other country. It is done by the Authentication division of the Secretary of State office in your respective state. So just google secretary of state for your state and most states have very good info on what is required for the apostille process. Here's the information for North Carolina.
So here's what I did.
1. Googled the internet to find templates for a general power of attourney letter for use in India. You can find ones like this and this one from ICICI.
2. Modified it for our use (in our case, to allow all activities for buying a flat in India. If you are unsure about modifying just leave it as is. The general POA probably has more than what you need.
3. Sent it to our lawyer in India to verify.
4. Added one section that he wanted included
5. Copied the template into a word document.
6. IMPORTANT: Added the authentication text that is required by the Secretary of State office for a local notary. Be sure to include the right text. Your Secretary of State office will likely have the verbiage they want on the notarized document.
7. Got it notarized by a local notary with two witnesses. The two witnesses are to make it a valid POA in India.
8. Got the document apostilled by the Secretary of State office. I did it personally. Got it in by 10am and got it back by 4pm. But most offices have a process for mailing it in, and it takes about 3 - 4 days
9. Took the apostilled, notarized document and sent it DHL to India. Since it was apostilled, there was no need to adjudicate it in any way in India.