Inheritance again

I know there has been a lot of threads on the subject, (a whole loom I believe) but my simple mind is getting confused.

I went to our notary with the number of the european law (32012R0650) and although she knew about it, she had no idea what we should do next with it. The sight of our simple wills type and signed by two witnesses made her almost faint. Could not be valid in France because not hand written or registered by a notaire...etc...

I believe very helpful brian Milne wrote that one has to add to existing will that one wants to take advantage of the new law No: 32012R0650 see Chapter III article 22.

Can I just write it on my existing English will, date and sign it and get 2 witnesses and that would do the trick?

And the survivor produce it when registering the death (at the British consulate?)

thanks for help


Everybody, please look at this site that will clarify the will business. It is on the European e-Justice Portal, written by lawyers in clear language so is totally unambiguous.

Exactly, Peter, you have far more say on what you want done with your estate but French inheritance tax doesn't change, it would be too good to be true otherwise!

Yep, in a nutshell Peter.

Hi all

If I am stating the obvious, I apologise, but please do not confuse the change in Inheritance laws as they effect Brits in particular with Inheritance Tax which will still be applied by the French authorities on your French assets and all of your world wide assets if you are domiciled here, irrespective of whose Inheritance laws you choose.

Happy to learn on all of this, but it has been the subject of correspondence between myself and my notaire. Only last week did she confirm (face to face) that in our situation (maried 40 years, no children, wills executed in England) we only needed "en division" in the house purchase and our english wills appliy to the distribution of french assets in our estate.

If you read (notaire, immobilier, agen" you wil get a sense of our experiences over the last twelve months.

Apart from recommendation I do not know how (but certainly avoid any notaire with a significant social media profile) finding a good notaire helps

No John, the new EU legislation, as Dan says EU650 has changed that entirely, albeit it a will from elsewhere is not valid under that regulation in the UK but actually they are usually willing to accept foreign wills anyway. The system is geared to it there because of the vast differences between English, Scots and Northern Irish legal systems. However, here the notaires and so on my be a bit slow on the uptake but what you are saying is now fortunately history.

Do you ( or partner) have children?

Are you resident in France or elsewhere?

If UK resident and have "English" wills they suffice,

You can hand write a french will (does not have to be written in french) must specify location, date and state directly your instructions (e.g. I give Aunt Mabel X, not "for the enduring kindness that Aunt Mabel has shown me over the last y years I would like to leave her ...), it does not have to be witnessed,

You can dictate a will to a notaire and it is witnessed.

But the Napoleonic rules on inheritance cannot be easily overcome if there are children. And no will can change the inheritance tax due on assets located in France

If property is your major french asset then check the mode of ownership. Essentialy there are three, "en division" equal shares but if there are heirs with Napoleonic rights a spouse is not necessarily entitled to all of your share, "en tontine" the survivor is treated as having sole ownership from the date of aquisition and has inheritence tax consequences, through a SCIE (special property company) where an individual can leave company shares (representing a part of the property) to whoever but incurs a setting up cost and annual administration costs.

My wife and I are UK resident, no children we are buying "en division" and have agreed that when one becomes seriously ill the house will be actively marketed in the hope that there are no french assets when one spouse dies.

Two notaires originally offered (at a cost) the Hague Convention. This is effectively a marriage contract between living partners. The Certificate of Succession can be invoked when an individual dies providing normal residency in a country can be established and accepted by the tax authorities as all countries will assert their claim to inheritence tax.

Hope this brief summary helps

very useful discussion thank you

thank you very much for answers having read and re-read the doc 32012R650 and especially Chapter III article 22. I have made an addenda to the existing will (all in legal UK form thank you Mr. Smith) and had it witnessed and signed by 2 friends one English and one French; I will deposit a copy with my notary who has already a copy of the UK will and send one to my executor in UK. And after all as I will be dead, I do not really care.

However, with the recently valid EU law all wills within member states in a legally acceptable form are now valid even if it is a will made in the UK that includes property here in France, ditto a French will is valid in Italy, etc. That is what Dominique went to the notaire with, but being only valid since April I think, it is not quite what one would call well known. What is not in an acceptable form where it is made is likewise invalid in all of the member states.

I hope this link works..

The most important thing arising from your post is the form of what you showed the notaire - in France a will, to be valid, has to be made one of these ways:

olographe (entirely written in your own hand)

or authentique (dictated to 2 notaires or just one with 2 witnesses)

or mystique (ie secret, it written by you & lodged with notaire in a sealed envelope in front of 2 witnesses - this is v complicated so most people don't do it)

your best bet is a testament olographe specifically mentioning the relevant paragraph of law, this is by far the most common type of will unless you have a complicated estate in which case you are probably safest going to a notaire who will actually be able to tell you if xyz is possible. Whatever you do you will need a brand new document which will supersede any other existing one.

Be careful with wills. In the UK there is a considerable difference between what is effectively legally considered a letter of intent that has no legal ground to stand on and a properly phrased and signed will. Fortunately, given my father had lodged his will with a solicitor and I was written out of it anyway, I had no problem. However, I have seen families go to war over (for instance) 'Dad's will' which was something written well before the event and did not exactly correspond with values and actual 'things' come the time and anyway there was not infrequently somebody to claim the old boy had been gaga for X years which began before the date the will was written. Ideally a will is written in a standard form, and I imagine the things people used to buy at the stationary shop exist on line now, so that is the starting point. Then have the document witnessed and kept by someone of status who is independent, such as a bank manager. Notaries are not lawyers here or anywhere else, just officers of a particular bit of law, so do not rely on them to actually know laws. That your notary actually knew about it is a good thing, but she ought to find out what to do about and with it because even if you are the first to go to her with that the chances are high she will get others in the foreseeable future. The big problem is still that very few ordinary mortals know about it and it may be far more convenient for the notaries to stay quiet.

I suspect you might need to rewrite, have somebody translate it, get it witnessed and lodged wherever so that nobody starts screaming 'not valid' or whatever. Alternatively, do as Simon suggests and imagine the chaos it might cause when nobody will be on your back about it any longer.

just leave everything to the maire and the commune, they will love you or loath you depending on much you leave.