I have assets in both France and the UK and want to ensure that I retain these assets should something happen to my husband, and naturally want to ensure that he retains all should something happen to me. How can I ensure this?

Hello Mary, seems a long time since I wrote my contribution, and I failed to thank you for your reply, which I do so now! I am returning to this thorny issue now following discussions with various friends. I see in a 'Connexion' article a reference to a 'Testament Olographe'. Can you tell me if it is possible to get hold of an outline for guidance?

Inheritence law in France is a minefield! Good luck!

Thank you all very much for your input - I see we need to put our affairs in order as we do intend staying on in France for many years to come.

Dear Pam,

Please see earlier posts on this. The regime is only suitable where children are of that marriage. Equally, other people may need to consider the higher amount of succession tax payable as a result. An en tontine clause at point of purchase is a futher option, but cannot be applied after the fact. A usufruit to a spouse in a will may suffice, but it is personalised advice needed here.

As pointed out earlier, this regime is not suitable where the children are outside of the marriage. Only where they are all your children of that marriage. Some Notaires say to do it anyway as children of a former marriage, will never want to pay the expense of going to court to receive their amount on the death of their own parent, but I dunno about that..............

I should note here, that this regime is not suitable where children are not of that marriage. Only where they are all your children of that marriage.Some Notaires say to do it anyway as children of a former marriage, will never want to pay the expense of going to court to claim their amount on the death of their own parent, but I dunno about that..............

Dear Roger

  • You describe the frustrations a lot of my clients go through. You do have some potential complexity with domicile and so a solicitor [ avocat] would give advice and the Notaire prepares and executes the documents advised technically. No idea which region you are in, but you would be best with an International Lawyer. I know this means more expense,, but it can certainly pay dividends. At point of purchase you could have maybe discussed an en tontine clause which gives survivor full control of the house only. Succession is about all assets though ultimately, so consider what should be in your wife's as opposed to your own or joint names perhaps, going forward. Assurance vie for capital can be very useful for inheritance as you can nominate any class of beneficiary with extra tax allowances for them. Anyone can msge me if they wish, and I do have some contacts in this field. I am a Blevins Franks Partner, here for 13 years for your info.

You should see a notaire here and request that you change your marriage regime from Separation des Biens to Communaute Universelle. ( Assuming you did what most people do here when they buy a house, not knowing that you have to be registered as Communaute Universelle to be eligible to leave your assets to your spouse alone. )That means everything from you or your husband goes to the surviving partner and does not go direct to any children. It should cost around 450 euros to change your regime so do not be persuaded that it may cost 1500 euros as one notaire tried to tell us. This is because you are not forced to take the current value of your house etc into the equation. It is written into the Hague Convention that you can change your regime when you move to another country.

Where oh where do you find a good Notaire? When we first purchased, we tried for a long time to persuade the Notaire who handled the sale to give us advice. We got nowhere, and gave up. Later we saw another, supposedly 'good' Notaire, whose advice has been contradicted by other advice individuals seem to have received. I am English, my wife is Irish, I have two children by my former marriage, and we have joint ownership of our property here in France, the only property we have. I simply want to protect my wife should I pop off first!

Celia... I have put some info on this regime below. It was mostly used before 2008, when the rules changed, when people did not want children to inherit at the death of the first parent [ or indeed were minors], but more importantly, as then there was succession tax between spouses with only a €72k allowance before tax was due! Not good... However when Sarkozy changed succession allowances, part of that change was that spouses and civil partners could inherit on death of their spouse tax free. Gifts to each other in lifetimes, still carries limits.

It means that under normal circumstances, your children cannot inherit until the community is over and all members have died. Thus they only can apply one set of allowances then. €100k each now [ reduced by Hollande from €160k] and NO indexation of this amount either. Without the regime thay can apply the same allowance on death of the first parent, without necessarily having the money then, and have a second set on death of the second parent.There is a small transfer tax that the community has to pay on death of the first of you, plus any Notaires fees I imagine.

It is still good where there are disfunctions in a family, minor children perhaps, and needed for more emotive reasons. Again you should decide your ideal situation at this time and check with a professional whether it needs adjusting or if not, or that you understand the implcations fully. Nothing is perfect after all, so it is a balance of priorities as usual.

James. I think you need to check details a little more with respect. A usufruit is literally the use of the fruits in her lifetime. Not "control of" technically. My understanding is that she cannot sell without their permission. I child has right to 50% of deceased parents assets, 2 children 66% and 3 or more 75%. This is the reserved portion. the unreserved amount can be willed elsewhere[ eg spouse], and a 100% life interest or usufruit for the spouse.

Hello Margaret,

This is a subject the bilingual helpline often hears and there is but one answer because it is so important to get this right. Go and see a good Notaire, lay out all the facts and explain exactly what you want to achieve. There is no other way to be safe. For double safety get a "projet" drawn up as a draft text and get a second opinion from another lawyer.

Good luck.

Please please please, when you have a UK will and a french will for various assets, and having been advised as such,that there is a clause that acknowledges the existence of the other will and assets.the last one to be made will be the only one otherwise. An english will, where you die as a resident of France, and where the assets are not an immovable asset ie property, [ as one can will it to anyone] currently needs to follow succession rights where children are concerned, or it will not count. It will need an official translation ultimately.

Where you have a community marriage regime [communité universelle} it will ensure the other party to the community will inherit,[eg spouse] but there is a small transfer taxat that point [where there is normally no tax between spouses on gifts on death], and if you have children, then they lose succession tax allowances on first parent's death. They could have had €100k each on death of first parent and then €100k each on the second death. where there are a couple fo children involved, this is quite a lot of allowance to give up.

As stated before. you should take advice first from someone who knows the UK law and double tax treaty as well as the french. Then the notaire can organsie the correct papers and a UK solicitor may need to amend an existing UK will. I have seen too many mistakes here to say otherwise. Msge me if you want more help.

Mary, thank you for your input here. This is a problem we'd not understood when we were in the process of buying our home back in 2004. Between signing the compromis and the Acte, we changed our marriage regime to one called Communauté Universelle.

Apparently that gives us a measure of safety against OH's 4 and my one offspring demanding their share of the inheritance in the event of the untimely demise of one of us! But I never quite understood what difference this particular regime might make?

You must take expert advice as Mary Taylor mentions. The cross border issues can be very complex and in my own experience not all French notaires are aware of these, especially if you are in a rural area. There are English solicitors who have staff qualified in both countries and who are up to speed. I have used Richard Frimston of Russell Cooke in Putney. Also be aware that if you are tax domiciled in France and have assets both side of the Channel, and the totality of your joint assets exceeds 1.3 million euros after some allowable deductions then you need to make an annual wealth tax declaration in France. If you have over that threshold then the tax cuts in at a lower threshold of 800,000 euros. Anybody benefitting from income of a trust has to include the asset values of the trust even if they are outside France. There are nasty fines if you don't. Also be aware that in 2015 there will be a change in the law allowing British born French residents to write British wills. What you arrange now may need to be redone at that time. My French notaire is charging about 500 euros for a will (testament) for me, mine being more complex than others as I have children of two marriages and a wife.

I have just organized this! My husband in French and I have dual nationality. We have both written Testaments in French leaving all the goods acquired during our marriage to each other. After we are both dead our 5 children 2 English, 3 French, will Sahara our remaining assets equally. I have also written an English will, with a lawyer in GB keeping all my previous assets as English, my English children will inherit these in due course just as my husbands three children will inherit his. It is very important to get this sorted out. We know widows who have had to move out of the family home after the husbands death (and the other way round) - because their children have claimed there part of the inheritance. I know it is unthinkable to do that bur French law allows it.

My wife and I went to a Notaire and had a UseFuite document created which we both signed giving control of all assets in France to the other in the event of either of us. I wanted to ensure that she was not forced to sell the house to pay the inheritance to my children. Now she can live in the house as long as she wishes, sell it to buy another house if she wants to, etc. I'm not sure if she can sell the house and simply keep the funds without buying another property and still escape the French inheritance distribution regulation. Consult a Notaire on how to get what you want.

I am in a similar situation, I went to the notaire and explained, we, the English, now have the right to have our goods and chattels distributed under English law when we die, if you so wish. She was very helpfula nd drew up my will and Put it on the central register so it is easy for the kids to find as and when. Find a good notaire and you are home and dry!!

Hi. As always in these very personal matters, it is best to take professional advice and ensure that wills are correctly worded so they actually count, and understand the implications of succession law in France. Please do not act on general tips, and what others have done. To add to the complexity, there is an unusual UK/Fr double tax treaty to understand. It also depends whether you are leaving property and / or liquid assets,where property is sited, and for capital, what structure it is held in. There are both pitfalls and opportunities within the current rules depending on your own set of circumstances and objectives. In 2015, one should be able to will assets to whoever you choose, but it does not alter the taxation aspects, and there is a way to go until then. Kind rgds, Mary Taylor