Hoping to save a few euros Notaire's fee

Yep, purely on the scrounge trying to save a Notaire visit, hoping someone here might know the rudiments of French inheritance…

A married couple, amicably separated, but not wishing to get divorced. Both without financial worries, one lives in UK in a good house, the other lives in France also in a good house with a long term girlfriend.

Question - can the one living in France leave the house to his girlfriend outright even though there is an existing (UK) marriage contract in place with another woman?

Save a few squids? Go to a Notaire and get some very qualified information, that will save the squids in the longterm.


I will. I will! Just trying to get a few ducks in a row before I make the visit with the bigger picture :grinning:

I seem to recall that property under French law must go to children, but not necessarily a spouse.

I second what @Rocam advises. However, you didn’t mention any children you and your wife or partner may have.

Any children you have, wherever in the world they live, will automatically become the joint owners of your French property upon your death. No way around it because that is French law. Your partner may be able to remain in the home you share until her demise depending in the good will of the new owners, your children.

Apart from having your wills drawn up by the French notaire, you may want to consider if you want the will carried out under French or UK law. Different inheritance tax/death duty. You may also need to consider how retaining ownership in your UK property will affect French taxes, both before and after your death.

My advice would be a little more costly than a notaire but I would say you should consult a legal firm qualified in both French law and UK to draw up your last will and settlement over the two countries. It is good that you maintain civil relations with your (ex) wife because smoother if you include her and the UK property in your decisions.

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No. They are married and the girlfriend is no relation, anything she inherits, and she won’t be allowed to inherit much because there are legitimate people ahead of her in the queue, will be taxed to billyo.

Edited to add that the set-up (not wanting to divorce but living apart with mistress or lover) and then worrying about inheritance is just silly in a country where the code civil applies. Of course it’ll be a sack of vipers. Sort your situation out if you care about your mistress.



Oh dear… if you want your long-term girlfriend to benefit you are going to have to take legal steps which will cost you money.

You do need legal advice and now… not somewhere in the dim and distant (ie too late).

Best of luck…

I’ve seen things go badly wrong (very sadly wrong), when one person dies and their Ex + Children turn the longterm partner out of the house… all quite legal, but it could have been avoided.


If they are still married it doesn’t matter if they live apart - legally the ‘ex’ isn’t an ex. Paper is what counts.


yes, I know that, I was just trying to show Adam that he must get things sorted now…
Very sad when the funeral is 3 days after the death… and the longterm partner (30+years) is chucked out on the doorstep that very same day… ghastly affair all round.

incidentally, I’ve no idea if the Ex was actually Ex… (if you get my drift… ) in a small commune, folk are very discrete… :wink:

Sorry Stella, I know you know, I was answering for Adam’s benefit :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks Susannah - much the same as I see it.

Should have mentioned the important bit - there are no children and no UK will, just a French one.

Thanks Stella, you are right, hence the question! There are a few other things in play that forms part of the bigger picture where legal backing will be necessary. Mentioning it to my neighbour just now over a coffee, he concurs that as there are no children it is relatively easy to ensure girlfriend at least can remain in the property until her demise and as my legal partner does not want the property anyway, it should be relatively easy for her to inherit.

Enough to formulate the plan I am looking for, and yes, off to the Notaire soon.

Thanks everyone!

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You really need to take legal advice and, as said now, not later.

It may also depend upon your marriage regime, your ties to the UK… a minefield. I do not believe girlfriend will superceed married spouse. Neighbours don’t always give you correct legal advice.

Get to the notaire!

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Please do it!

so often one makes plans… both sides agree… and time passes… and when “the moment” arrives, something might have changed… and all the plans which were agreed in good faith… get thrown out of the window.

Get it written down, legally… signed by everyone (including the cat, dog, whatever…)
Leave nothing to chance… then you can rest easy… and live long and prosper… :wink:

and your Notaire is just the person to arrange all this… :wink:

Legally in France if you have no children, when you die your parents get half of your estate and your spouse gets the other (not mistress or partner or bidie-in) the way we see it is if you are serious about someone and have their interests at heart why would you be married to another person. Marriage is a civil contract about property for us, not some romantic hooha.


Just so you understand how rigid it is: my mother has been married to my stepfather since I was 12, but that doesn’t mean he is is legally any relation to me and nor can he leave anything significant to me, unless he adopts me. So he has adopted me - but I was over 50. In England you can’t adopt an adult because inheritance law isn’t like ours.
Go and see a notaire, spend a bit now to save trouble later.


@vero is, as ever, correct

Under civil law in France, your wife is still your wife and legal matters in a will give her precedence over a partnership. You must reserve 1/4 of your assets to your spouse.
You will be able to freely allocate (for the benefit of an heir or a third party) the remaining 3/4 in your will.

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I have a follow-on question as I’m in a remarkably similar boat to @Adam1 (I know, I know… :frowning: ).

Can a divorce be initiated in France if the marriage took place in the UK? Are there any benefits to doing it in one country over the other? Or does it have to be handled in the country of the marriage?

Very interesting question… sadly, I have no idea… but I’m ready to learn :wink:

EDIT: Just found this… wander on through all the in’s and out’s… and it might be enlightening:

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Yes it can and things are divided up differently so get an avocat to sort it out. If it’s amicable you can work things out yourselves and then it’ll just be drawn up the way you want it. If adversarial it takes longer but imho it is fairer (than in what I know of England certainly).
You don’t need to get your divorce in the country in which you married. Having been there and done that you can pm me if you have more questions.


Vero is right, it can be done outside the country of marriage.

However, I saw lots of this when I worked for years for a notaire last time we lived and worked in France. Things which are amicable now can so easily turn sour, the regime under which you are married, dependants, family…

You really have to get proper advice and not use a forum, super duper good as this is, to give you that legal opinion. We can only give links and our personal thoughts as I have done.


Thanks, @Stella, @Vero and @blade46. I have to pay my income tax soon but this is next up on my To Do list :slight_smile:

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