French Inheritance laws


(James Kearney 2) #1

I’ve read a bit in French and English and still have questions about the French inheritance laws. My wife and I own a very nice and fairly expensive house in Combleux. Under French law, does she not own half the house already such that should I die, only half the value of the house would be considered my estate for the inheritance distribution formula? That issue wasn’t made clear anywhere.



Of is it that the wife is just one of the inheritors, not considered one of the owners of the property? That would be very sexists, wouldn’t it?



Anybody with some expertise in this area?


(Jacquie Rollo) #2

James, as I have been going through a succession issue, it is my understanding from my Notaire that as long as both you AND your wife’s name are on the deeds 1/2 of the property is considered hers. The same goes for bank accounts in France and other countries. If you are familiar with the English speaking newspaper called The Connextion, they put out a great supplement that can be ordered directly from then and costs around 5 euros. I found the information both informative and very accurate. James the laws are a bit different if the children are yours and your wife or step-children of your wife.


(Jennifer Hagan) #3

The wife would be one of the owners and inheritors. I believe that if she owns part of the house, it is partly hers. However, if you have children or grandchildren, they also own a portion of the house. So your share would be 50% and she gets a portion of that as a heritier. There is something you can do about that. You can go to an attorney and ask him about getting the house en tontine which means the spouse will get everything. Here is the site I went to when there was a question when my mother in law died. Good luck.http://www.french-property.com/guides/france/finance-taxation/inheritance/rights/surviving-spouse/


(Patrick Hay) #4

I’m no expert, but I think the answer is - “It depends…”. In France it seems it mostly depends on whether you have children and/or grandchildren, if so how many, and also possibly whether you have any parents living.

Under certain circumstances, your children and your surviving parents might have a claim on a part of your, presumably 50%, share of the house.

Your “marriage regime” is important, too. You may each own half of the house, or you can both own 100% of it jointly and separately.

This can obviously get complicated and you should see a good French lawyer if you feel your family circumstances might create problems