Very sadly my mother passed away last January here in the UK. She had a house in France as well as a bank account. All I require to apply for probate is her bank statement. The estate agent who sold my Mum the house, recommended her bank to set up an account. After my Mum’s death, I contacted the Estate Agent, and she forwarded me details of her Bank Manager. Not Mum’s bank manager, but the Estate Agent’s just to be clear. I sent him Mum’s death certificate and my ID. When I spoke to him, he said it could take 3 weeks to get the statement. 8 weeks have passed and I have heard nothing. Is it just the case it takes longer in France, and I need to be more patient? It is difficult to get through to the Bank Manager on the phone. I emailed 2 weeks ago, and have had no reply. I have sent a message today. Hoping again to get a reply back. Of course a polite email to let me know why it is taking longer then 3 weeks to receive the information I require. Any advice would be grateful? Sadly I haven’t got any of Mum’s statements in the UK. I helped her transfer money into the account from her uk account when she was ill. Unfortunately we never had a statement. She had a rough idea how much she had.
I’m sorry that you are not getting the response you need. I would have thought they might have more empathy for your position…In france as in the UK you have time limits for dealing with matters relating to probate.
Sometimes in France you have to push hard to get things done. I personally would stop being politely English and send a registered letter asking that this information be provided by return as it is required by the UK tax authorities. . Not rude or angry, just determined!
Hi Craig, welcome back to SF and my condolences for your loss.
The notaire who originally handled your mum’s purchase may be a good starting point if you have details of who it was (the Agent should know). Probate in France is handled by a notaire in any event.
Banks are increasingly under strict internal policy rules not to give out any information with regards to their clients, including statements, especially via email and even over the phone, to potentially non-entitled persons. Ideally, the solicitors handling your mother’s will should write to the bank, translated into French, to give your request an air of authority, if needs be backed up via a local attorney (banks see all kinds of fraudulent attempts to gain access to account information, so are wary). Currently, the bank appears to have no way of knowing who you are and what entitles you to access the information, so I’m not surprised that they’re dragging their feet, probably in the hope it’ll go away.
As others have said, contacting the notary who registered the transaction of sale for your mother’s house would also be a good starting point, again preferably via the solicitors on your side handling the will.
If it were not for Covid restrictions I would say get yourself over here with an appointment to see the notaire who dealt with the property and sort everything out face to face. You can make an appointment with the bank, to follow, start with notaire first.
You might have to wait - or decide that any probate deadlines (I know nothing of this) make it a life and death matter, sort out an appointment, and come anyway. Personally I’d stop at the mairie too just to show your face, have a brief chat, and say why you’re there. They may come up with things you need to know, or be just generally helpful.
Otherwise do what @JaneJones says and send signed-for letters - in English if you have to but French - even bad French - translation enclosed would help - stating deadlines and tax.
I am sorry for your loss and sorry it’s a bit messy but people do help here once you get their attention by whatever means. Notaire is your best bet and if you get stuck with either of the other two the mairie can often help or advise. Notaires are basically “family and property lawyers” - actual lawyers generally don’t do this in France, Notaires do.
If you have English probate or docs (even if only relevant to stuff in England) bring what you have too, if you come.
PS I had to make just such appointments for someone’s daughter in the same position who was coming from Australia. It worked well face to face with appointments set up by phone/email and confirmed by email (often they can read English but not speak it and Google translate is your and their friend.) Defo do the needed for tax registered writing thing though, for now, whatever you decide to go ahead with.
I do think it borders on the “vital” in its most core sense ie life and death though, if you wanted to use an exceptional reason to come. What do others think?
PS if considering selling the property notaires also sometimes sell properties - this can be a very good way of finding one so I presume they might be worth asking if they handle this and timescales that might be involved etc. I’d trust almost every notaire over almost every estate agent in France and probably anywhere… sorry to all you estate agents that do a wonderful job.
Do you mean probate in the UK Craig? It sounds (forgive me if I’m wrong) that you haven’t started the succession process in France yet, which I’m afraid you will have to do. Even if your Mum had opted for her estate to disposed of under UK inheritance law there are formalities that need to be addressed in France. You need to contact your notaire and they will gather all the French documents you need.
Sorry for your loss and the difficulties you are having. Some french mainline banks have English speaking telephone lines, worth a Google search, I have assisted senior friends in dealing with their french bank this way.
I would agree sending a request with a responce timeline by registered post a good idea but to Mum’s bank, they would soon locate who was her Conseiller.
You state youve already sent a death certificate and your ID (was it regular post or traceable?) to this Bank Manager of the estate agent, does he have written authority to act on your behalf? Surprised if not that he hasn’t requested it as they love their red tape paperwork here.
Another thought is if you have any idea of Mums bank details would she have used an internet app to access her account? Maybe another way to gain the info you require.
Perhaps reach out to the Mayor of the village/ Deptarment area your Mums property was in, if you state that on here there maybe someone who could guide you better, Good luck