Dying in France

Has any member had the experience of dealing with the estate of an ex-pat dying in France?

As a long term resident here I'm concerned that the executors of my estate, who know only a little of French and do not live here, will have problems with the French succession laws.

I realise these laws are different to the UK and am contacting a notaire in Paris who speaks good English to discuss the situation. But I would like to know if anyone has any advice based on experience which could help next-of-kin through a difficult time.


Stanley Lover

Yes, that 6 days limit is very important, particularly if family and friends need to tarvel from afar. A simple last ceremony followed by a service for all later might be the best bet.

With Irish blood in me I favour the celebration of a life lived rather than mourn a death and would like all to have a shindig; not a sad gathering.

Our first move is to arrange our own funerals. Checking out www.testament-obseques.fr before meeting with local pompes fun├Ębres. Looks a bit expensive but necessary.

Hi, I've just sent you a request for the information but a bit of googling found the Bereavement Support Network of the Var

You are right, it is excellent information, note particulaly that the funeral must take place within 6 days - thats very different to the UK, especially if people have to make arrangements to get over here.

Very important topic to bring up, thank you everyone!

Very glad you found it useful Stanley. I too thought it was the best written and put together document I had come across. If anyone else wants it contact me on sueandcath@orange.fr

So we should plan to die.

So perhaps we need to save for this, plan for this?

Those who loved you will find the way to to say goodbye.

And a way to deal with everything.

If you have managed to leave money behind there will

be a way to provide for the ceromony of ever after and the flowers.

You can plan your life away.

I think that planning for these things is very thoughtful and considerate to those you leave behind. So many people shy away from the subject, thinking it macabre or sad. The fact is that everybody dies, and so many people don't think about the fact that there are things needing to be taken care of, (estates, costs, etc.), after a death, all while they're in mourning. I'm only fifty, and seem to be in pretty good health, but I could go tomorrow by slipping in the shower, or something else unforeseen. It's never too early to take care of these things, and I think it's just great that you are being pro-active. Because of you, I have food for thought and leads to information I might need someday. My French husband and I would like to live part-time in France when we retire........ if we live that long.LOL

To Sue Etherton and all interested in this topic.

Thank you so much for the PDF - Bereavement Support Network.


My wife and I are studying the 8 pages of detail very carefully. It seems to cover every aspect - including a most helpful timetable of duties and a French translation of a pro forma letter to the various authorities.

As you say, although written for residents in the Var there may be some slight differences in other regions, but I do firmly recommend to all readers to obtain a copy. It will save much time and anxiety for our families.

Sue, I thought of adding your email contact but feel that is for you to decide.

Again, thank you Sue - and Sandra - for this invaluable document.


Please email to stanley.lover@free.fr

Many thanks

David life is to be lived....And to stay as well and happy as we can.

We saw this too - on this website! We have passed it on to Expert et Finance, a financial advisory group in Toulouse, who have a substantial back-up staff of experts in Lyons, so it will be interesting to hear their views. It was complete news to us - and to our contact in the Toulouse office. It seems unlikely the French state would waive normal succession law just because one is British, if one is resident here.

I experienced the death of a spouse and also the death of two friends. In the latter cases no planning had been done and after two years bank accounts etc are still locked and I am sure that professional fees are mounting not to mention the anxiety. Needless to say no interest seems to be paid in the intervening period. In the case of my late wife we were late second time spouses so we kept all out financial affairs separate. She had no assets in France other than a small car and a very small bank account. I found it very easy if there is a joint bank account as that account can carry on with just one remaining account holder. Similarly utility bills are best in joint names if there are spouses or co-habitents. It's worth taking out a funeral expense policy or setting aside money for that as if you don't the family can have some unwelcome expenses in the order of 3-5k euros. It's certainly a good idea to visit a notaire as there are certain limited things you can usefully do, but again you have to count on things happening at a snail's pace and you will need to take all the initiative. Local notaires round here are slow and some have been corrupt as well. Using a British firm may be a good idea but the costs are likely to be higher. Cost or repatriation of remains is huge as is burial in France. there are new rules on disposing of ashes but I found a way round those. I did register my late wife's death in Paris with our Embassy which is a good idea but they gave me no information and I was unaware until later that although resident in France I was entitled to a widower's benefit. I lost some of my entitlement due to the delay. You need to consider what to do about chattels etc as they are meant to be valued by a professional (more fees) after death.

I should echo what Barbara says and recommend living life to the full! I have a new wife and a new addition to the family so life is going on an our integration in the French way of life is progressing from babyhood on!

I have an excellent document in pdf format which sets out the process for people. It is in English and written by someone in Var region, but only some small things might be different in whichever region you are. Can not find a way of posting pdf so if you message me I could send via e-mail.

I was going to say, your insurance company is the road to take, I reckon, they seem to handle a lot more here than they do back in our countries. I reckon it might be just a case of a declaration, or form to fill out with them....

Many thanks to all who have responded and for your advice.

What confusion! I dread my sons (living in Portugal and the UK) having to deal with the maze of EU, French & UK rules.

The info you have provided will help me ask pertinent questions when I discuss my situation with the Paris notaire. If I get any clear advice I will put it here.

Thanks Dani, I will certainly check out my insurers . That might be the way?

When my father-in-law died here, he had arranged some sort of paid service through his insurance company, I believe, to help with all the various paperwork, declarations, requirements, etc. They were extremely helpful in letting us know what needed to be done and how when the time arrived. I would certainly look into something like that.

I have dealt with three deaths in France so far - two ex-pats and one French - and all I can say is that it is a nightmare. You would need to attend lectures on that particular aspect of French law to have any hope of coping on your own. It isn't just the financial aspect - Lord knows that the French fisc are greedy enough - it is the functionnaires that make life so hard for the survivor who is dealing with the deceased person's assets. Unless you have managed to get an English will registered here, and that has to be done before a certain period of residence has elapsed, my advice is to find a good notaire and start improving your French business communication lexicon.

Try this, not sure of your circumstances but it may help.


I seem to recall reading a post somewhere that said EU law surrounding this subject have changed so that people can choose to have their estate handled according to the laws of their home country or their country of residence.

Thanks Barbara for your comforting words.

I'm not planning to get off the bus just yet but need to put affairs in order.

All best


If you heart and soul are living in France.

Die peacefuly in the same place.

Your family and friends will bid you goodbye wherever you loved to be.

Hopefuly your love/our love will linger on giving them happiness in the

memory of your presense.