French Will

Hi everyone. My parents have bought a 2nd property in France and have been advised by an English solicitor that they should write a French will here in France for that property. They want to leave it so it passes in the first instance to whichever of them survives the other (sorry it's very morbid but they were worrying about it yesterday as they're not here very often!) and then equally between my sister and I. I told them I thought that this was automatically the case in France in any case and that therefore they probably needn't do anything. They also considered getting married in a mairie here (on somebody else's advice) as they were told their (UK Church) wedding may not be considered legal here for the succession. Their main property is in the UK if that makes any difference and they are both British citizens. They spend about 12 weeks maximum a year here so don't have loads of time to spend on admin but would be prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure that unneccessary tax/costs etc. are avoided.

If somebody could advise me on the best thing that they can do they'd be very grateful. You can reply here or my Dad (Tony Salter) is a member here on SFN somewhere if you prefer to reply to him confidentialy.

Thank you in advance and Merry Christmas to everybody.

When we bought our residence secondaire in 2000, our notaries required a French will, as regards (only) the property. But there was no filing of the Will, which he told us to keep with our important papers.

Were we given good advice?

And, secondly, what happened to the 2012 proposal to change the inheritance law for foreign owners (it mentioned using one’s home country inheritance laws) What has happened with that? We are American, if that makes any difference.

I would welcome a discussion of this as one daughter wants our house in France and the other will get our US home.

Dear Yvette,

As regards to a French estate planning, it may indeed be necessary for your parents to do something. For the moment should one of your parents die, you and your sister could receive up to 3/4 of the deceased parent’s estate.

As regards to getting married in France, if a valid marriage certificate has been registered in the UK, this should be acceptable for the French authorities.

I would be happy to chat to your Father if needs be.

I hope this helps.

Your parents also need to protect themselves by doing a ‘donation au dernier vivant’ with a notaire. Otherwise as Guillaume points out above, a quarter of the deceased parents share (50%) would go automatically to each child and the remaining parent would either have to pay out the equivalent value or sell the house. Even if you personally would still consider it were your parents house and not claim your inheritance, there would be inheritance tax to pay, depending on the value of the property. I would advise going back to the same notaire as was used for the purchase of the house and asking him to put this in place. It would mean that in the case of death of one of your parents, the property would go to the other one for the duration of their life and only upon the death of the second parent would it revert to the children.

OOOPs sorry I only just realized this post was dated to 2011 and presume that you have got it sorted out by now…