Fee Comparison: La Vida versus private lawyers

Apologies if this seems repetitive, but given the new GV regulations in Portugal, information in previous threads is no longer applicable. I am wondering if someone can give a general estimate of legal and other fees from application to citizenship if one hires private attorneys? Currently La Vida is estimating 10-11K to act as the coordinator for our GV initiative – this includes application, renewal, and citizenship processes. I’m wondering how much more this convenience costs versus just hiring an attorney; simplification is very important to us. We will applying for GV in Portugal via non-real estate investment (not Mercan). Thank you.

The information in previous threads is still quite relevant. The legal and other fees should be the same or similar as what is described in the past. if you think that law firms are going to lower their prices because of the possibility of faster renewals or citizenship then I have a bridge to sell you in Montijo.

1 Like

The part that seems less relevant now is that many of the previous threads basically recommend working directly with Mercan. In an effort to stay clear of real estate or quasi-real estate investment, I will not be working with Mercan – so this option is off the table. Currently it seems options are to either commission a third party legal/logistical team (like La Vida) or directly engage a legal team myself. I know La Vida’s fees but would like to know what fees I might expect if I engage a law firm on my own – for the total amount I might expect to pay for initial GV application through 2 renewals and also through Citizenship application after 5 years. Also if engaging legal directly, would there be other things I’d then have to do on my own, too, such as separately research banks for my bank account and then deal with the bank. thanks

I, too, have been doing my own separate research on bank accounts and qualified funds for investment (post-RE). The next step for me is to research on legal firms and their cost.

I don’t know about Mercan specifically, but there is a lot of relevant info here:

You haven’t said how many people you are applying for, that has an effect on the fees.

1 Like

Sorry about that. Just 2 – my spouse and me

That’s IMO not ridiculous, as an all-in charge. The trick is to ensure that it IS an all-in and that there aren’t a bunch of nickel-dime ($500/yr for tax representation, $300 to file, $200 translation fee per document, $200 for mailing you a card, etc etc). That’s what I’ve seen and that shit adds up fast. You want “I am going to send you a check for $11,000 and then not another dime”. (Well ok installments but you get the idea.)

IMO a good firm should be able to do this. You don’t count things like travel charges if they come to escort you to a SEF appointment - you can’t predict those - but they can give you an hourly rate etc. Or maybe actual postage etc. In any case they should be able to list out all the reasonable costs.

Keep in mind that if they are introducing you to funds or anything else, they are getting big fat referral fees from those entities too. So they are making money off you hand over fist already. They of course should get paid for their efforts, your goal is to simply keep it fair. And everything is negotiable.

I don’t think the quoted fees are out of touch with what you would expect to pay a lawyer for the same service.

However, by hiring a lawyer (at least if it’s not a shady one—and there are plenty of those), part of what you’re paying for is that they will have your back and provide objective advice.

The same can’t be said for the kind of firms you’re considering hiring. They are incentivized to push whatever investment options they make more money off at the other side of the transaction, which often won’t align with your interests.

That would be fair enough if you weren’t already paying them €10K+. At that price point I think you deserve an advisor whose interests are aligned with yours.

On the flip side, a lawyer may well simply want to stick to lawyering. They may not want to spent the time doing any additional handholding or assisting with fund choices or whatever else. Mine falls in that category. They had no advice on funds or other considerations, the best was “some other clients are using X, they meet legal requirements, but beyond that we really don’t know much because finance isn’t our beat”. I bought a house through them. They verified all the paperwork etc etc, helped write the contract, but… should I have bought in that locale? was this a good house to buy? Not their department, they’re lawyers, they just handle the legal stuff.

Yes an advisor like GCS or LaVida might have a row to hoe. On the other hand the extra fee intake provides funding for the intermediary to provide white-glove service that a lawyer might be uninterested in providing. That can be important to some people, and OP is indicating an interest in that value-add.

I agree that a GCS/LaVida has an incentive to steer a client in ways that benefit itself and not the client. Nothing excuses the client from doing due diligence. But as long as the final outcome is the same?

I would agree that it would be better to find an advisor whose interests are aligned… but it’s unclear whether such an entity exists in the current marketplace. And I would note that there is nothing keeping your lawyer from collecting a referral fee from a fund besides some ethics considerations. :slight_smile:

I had an immigration consulting firm help with my process, and they had an “in house” attorney. Came out to something like 6k for the combined fees as a single investor.

I wasn’t especially impressed with them, but it was still worth every penny. They opened my bank account quickly (in a less popular area where the branch manager has time for me), got me a few different investment options, dealt with the contract updates as I negotiated stuff, and did funds transfers and all signatures for me with a POA. It was not stress free at all, but much better than if I had tried to DIY any of the process.

And yeah, I’m sure they got a substantial cut of my investment, despite acting like that was not the case.

Fair point. I like Pearls of Portugal’s model (you pay a fixed fee, they don’t get a cut from the transaction), but that’s for real estate, not funds.