Elderly parent living in France

Hi, I am new to this site and hoping for advice regarding my elderly Dad who is living in France. My sister and i (we both live in the UK) may end up having to pay towards the cost of Dads care in France, should he need it. Dad is in his early 80s and is married to a French lady. They live in her childrens house (the children are grown up and live elsewhere). Dad has said he has no plans to return to the UK, even if his wife passes away before him. He does not have any significant savings or own any property, he does have money invested that may last up to two years in a French care home. Dad believes that care is free in France. He does not have a power of attorney. His stepchildren have told him that if their mother died first he could continue to live in their house (alone, with carers calling in if needed). I am hoping that someone could tell me if stepchildren are legally obliged to pay towards the cost of their step parents care in France? Ideally, if Dad runs out of money and is living alone, or in a French care home I would like to bring him back to the UK. This may also be against his stepchildrens wishes, as well as his own, and i wonder if this is something that they could legally stop my sister and I doing if they wished to. Please note that my sister and I have families of our own to support and would both struggle to pay towards the cost of our Dad`s care.

You are supposed to pay for looking after your parents when they are old, according to French law. If your father doesn’t want to come back to the UK how will you force him to?

If he hasn’t got dementia his wishes apply, not yours or the stepchildren’s. Of course if you don’t live in the same country it can be more complicated. Do the stepchildren also have families to look after? Are you expecting them to take care of him? Did he work in France?

How exactly could France force the OP and her sister to finance their father’s care?

Supporting your parents/grandparents is a law in France, so failing to do so is an offence with potential fine of up to 15,000€ and two years in prison. And international conventions allow for cross-border co-operation between police forces so I guess it would be an international arrest warrant or similar?

And people like daughters-in-law are included, but not sure about step children. Perhaps it depends if he had a part in their upbringing.

In a no deal Brexit, the European Arrest Warrant falls by the wayside.

Thank you for your replies. Dad retired to France in his 60`s, he worked in the UK until retiring. He does not have dementia. His stepchildren and stepgrandchildren would be unable to provide practical care. Also, I doubt that they would be able to afford to contribute very much to the cost of care if they were legally obilged to do so. But if that was the case, my sister and I would be legally obilged to contribute towards the cost of our stepmothers care, if and when she needs it. I am afraid that if Dad ends up living alone, or in care and runs out of money, i would seriously consider bringing him to the UK. This is a last resort, but the scenario is entirely posssibe and something i/ we would like to be prepared for.

Victoria -

As the husband, he has every right to stay in the marital home if his wife dies and he has made it clear he does not want to return to UK.

Does your Dad receive a Pension from UK or does he rely on his wife for finances?

Every effort is made to support folk in their own homes rather than going into care. If necessary, with home-help/meals-on-wheels from time to time, it is perfectly feasible that your Dad could manage perfectly well in his own home in France.

We have many elderly folk in our commune. My favourite is 97 years old and still lives alone (since the death of his wife). He is quite capable and prefers his independence.

If you want to look into the situation in UK - about someone returning from France and needing immediate housing in a Care Home - that will give you the worst scenario. Find out what you can and after that anything less would be a blessing.

Hi Stella,

The house that my Dad and stepmother live in does not belong to either of them. The house belongs to his wifes children, his stepchildren, they inherited the house. The location is rural and isolated. I was told that the stepchildren could not afford the upkeep of the large old house, thats why they don`t live there themselves. One of them wanted to sell the house, but the other one would not allow it, hence the house is still in the (step) family. Even so, my Dad would rather live out his years there, if he can, which i understand and appreciate. Dad has a UK pension and his wife is also a pensioner. It would be great if he could live out his years in France as he wishes. I am not sure that my Dad would even consider living elsewhere in France, as in a older persons commune or whatever, even he could afford it.

I think you’ll the duty of care only applies to direct bloodline relatives and spouses. Stepchildren are not protected heirs, they are in fact regarded as non relatives for inheritance purposes, and I am fairly sure they only have a duty of care to their own parent and not the step parent (unless they’ve been legally adopted of course).

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I think you might find that he still has the right to remain in the house where he currently lives. He might well be able to downsize to using a couple of rooms if it is really too big. The house we bought here, many years ago, had its owner living in one large room and the rest left empty…

(the elderly folk in our commune were all born here, some moved away to find work and then returned to marry and/or retire - back to their old family properties… others have been here all their long lives… wonderful generation )

I know of a situation where a French couple have been living together for 25 years but are not married and have no PACS (pacte civil de solidarité).

Should the gentleman dies, his lady-partner will have to move out of the home immediately (the ex-wife and the children are waiting in the wings…)

As I understand things… his ex-wife will inherit her portion of the house as if she were still married to him, since he has not remarried. (the kids get the rest).

The couple have been advised to arrange their affairs (get married) so that she is not shoved out on the street - should the worst happen.

It’s a rum world… no-one likes to think about death, but not thinking can have very sad consequences… :zipper_mouth_face:

In fact the ex wife would not inherit. Divorce ends the marriage therefore they are now unrelated. That’s not to say they didn’t set up some kind of gift arrangement that might continue, or possibly depending on marriage contract she may techically own half the house and never reclaimed it, or some such specific situation. But norrmally the estate will go to his kids. A divorced spouse is not an heir and anything she does inherit will be taxed as for a non relative ie 60 per cent

Anna… probably as you have said, there is more to it than my simple understanding. I was def told that the ex-wife had rights on the house and she planned to chuck the other lady out asap if she got the chance. Sad to think how bitterness descends on the head on the innocent (the other lady came on the scene long after the divorce. )

There is no equivalent of power of attorney here in France.
You have to wait until someone becomes unable to conduct their own affairs and then the courts intervene.
Not ideal I know.
I think that the best thing you can do is to find an official source that says that care is not frrr in France and perhaps that will change his way of thinking. Good luck,

Are you sure?

This page seems to suggest otherwise


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This happened to a friend last year…a very sorry turn of events.

Dad said he will seek advice about a possible power of attorney equivalent with the notaire, so we will have to wait and see what becomes of that. I read somewhere that in France it is complex and expensive to sort out POA when the person no longer has metal capacity.

If the donor has already lost capacity then, yes, the courts will need to be involved and it is  quite likely to be long and expensive.

However, the same is true in the UK.

There’s curatelle and tutelle and giving a procuration, all different degrees of something very similar.

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We wanted to draw up powers of attorney for each other and our notaire told us that the person involved has to become unable to look after their own affairs and that a court could then grant a power of attorney.