I wonder if anyone can help? I have two elderly friends who live in France - 83 and 73 years old. They are gay and want to have a Civil Partnership to protect each others pension, should one of them die.
They are permanently resident in France, but still British Nationals, and they want to know if a ceremony performed in France would hold water if they were ever able to return to England; and whether, in fact, they can ask their Maire/Notaire to perform this ceremony for them in France, given that they are not French.
Here is some info I recently sent to one of my clients
Hope you find it useful
What is a Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS)?
If you do not intend to get married, or you are unable to do so, then, in order to offer some protection to your surviving partner, you should adopt a French civil partnership.
A civil partnership in France is called a Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS).
A French civil partnership is only available to those who are resident in France. It is available to same sex partners.
If you are already in a civil partnership from your country of origin then you will normally be exempt from the payment of French inheritance taxes, provided this rule applies in the country of juridiction of your civil partnership.
Existing civil partners are not permitted to enter a French civil partnership, but there is normally no need to do so, as you will have the same rights as those in a PACS.
One of the other advantages of civil partnership status is that it will allow you to benefit from health insurance cover granted to a partner who may be running a business in France (assuming you are not otherwise able to obtain insurance cover through other means).
If you are able to enter into a French civil partnership, you can either to so on the basis of a strict separation of ownership of property, or that property is owned and shared jointly between you, whomever actually financed the purchase.
The first type of ownership structure is called regime de separation de biens in which each partner remains the exclusive owner of all property purchased in their sole name. As property is not jointly held, but remains owned separately by each partner, it is not the best approach if you wish to offer future security to your civil partner.
You can also enter a civil partnership on the basis of ownership of the property en indivision in which all property is said to be jointly owned.
However, even with indivision it is possible to make a distinction between your own personal effects and assets brought into the partnership, and those held jointly by the partners.
If you enter a partnership as part of the process of house buying, you can also stipulate in the title deeds of the property, the ownership spilt between you and your partner. It may be 50/50, but it could equally be 75/25, a spilt which will be reflected in the inheritance calculation.
Accordingly, even with en indivision the personal assets do not form part of the shared inheritance on your death, which you can dispose of as you wish.
Inheritance Tax Implications
By entering into a PACS the surviving partner benefits from an exemption from liability to inheritance tax on any property left to them by their deceased partner.
Otherwise they are liable for inheritance tax at the rate of 60%, with only a miniscule allowance of around €1500 available to them.
So, if you are not married, a civil partnership is an effective way of getting round inheritance taxes to the surviving partner.
If you are already in a civil partnership from your home country, then you will also normally be exempt from French inheritance tax.
There is no exemption for other beneficiaries of the inheritance, who will be taxed (if they are taxed at all) on the basis of their relationship to the deceased.
If you get married to the person you are PACSed with here you don't have to do anything, the marriage supersedes the PACS - so the spouse gets all the usual benefits. In your friends' situation it probably makes more sense to marry than to PACS.
A bit OT but if you have a UK Civil Partnership, from what our Notaire said (after checking with an expert in Bordeaux) we were considered 'married' before the French law change as the UK Civil Partnership was closer to marriage than PACS.
Now I think we are in limbo as the UK will have equal marriage and France has equal marriage but no one knows where we fit in (despite contacting the EU on this.) It is not helped by the fact the UK is dragging it's heels over conversions of CP to marriage.
Your friends could get married in France and as the UK will 'catch up' on the 29th March there will be no problem with recognition by the UK Government. In fact there has been no problem with the Pensions Agency, including Local Government, recognising a French Pacs as a UK Civil Partnership in the case of same sex couples. In the case of two friends, one of whom died, the remaining partner found that the Pensions Agency were more than helpful in dealing with the whole thing in a very timely and sympathetic manner.
My Notaire friend tells me that he can draw up a Pacs and 'perform' the 'ceremony' (actually there isn't one,it's a case of signing a paper in front of an official
Your friends would be best advised to talk to an Advocat, if they need one who speaks fluent English and live near Montpellier I can put them in touch with one. She specialises in Family and Divorce law.
Remember that the marriage option isn't a religious ceremony but is a civil one to protect the rights and responsibilities of each party, just in case there is an antipathy against the thought of marriage.
Whatever they choose wish them all the very best from another gay man living in France.
But I have just checked out 'pension de reversion' which is what they are worried about and it doesn't apply in the case of a PACSed couple. (V interesting for me personally, since as it happens as I am PACSed myself!!)
Qui peut en bénéficier ?
Condition de mariage
Vous devez avoir été marié avec l'assuré décédé.
Vous n'avez pas droit à la pension de réversion si vous étiez pacsé avec l'assuré décédé, ou si viviez en concubinage.