My husband is being adopted by his French step mum

Hi all, I wonder if anyone has come across this before and can give me any information.

My husband who is English, is being adopted by his French Step Mum so that he can inherit from her and his father has signed his assets over to her. As his wife, I am being asked to sign to say that I agree to the adoption but am worried that by signing this, I will agree to something I don’t understand and will effect my own rights or my children’s rights to inherit from my husbands estate in the future.

I understand that in French law, a wife has no rights to her husbands inheritance and so would it be possible in the future that some random French relative could lay claim to my estate should my husband dies before me?

Anyone got any info? would be much appreciated.


Have you already sought legal advice? A french notaire will be able to talk you through the whole thing and explain every detail.

Just one thing we have already discussed on SV: Family Responsibility.
Does the Stepmother have any relatives whatsoever. ?? The only thing I know is that Family Responsibility is all-encompassing and can prove expensive (eg: as folk get older and infirm)… and this responsibility for her and/or her relations, would possibly even touch your children and their children (due to the blood-line through their Father).

I am no expert… but I do know enough to know that your husband and you… you both need to understand the full ramifications.

a vague idea of how different France is… to what UK’s are used to…

Nursing Home Costs Court Summons

Perfectly normal, I was in exactly the same situation. It is so that when the stepmother dies (assuming she does so after the father does) your husband actually inherits and doesn’t have to pay extortionate tax. Very sensible move. Assuming your children are also your husband’s, then his being adopted means they will eventually inherit something too.

What it boils down to is step-children/parents aren’t related in French law. So yes if your husband isn’t adopted by the stepmother then he is no relation at all and everything will go to her 2nd cousin once removed Jeannine in La Souterraine, or whoever.

Re some random fr relative laying claim to your rstate, it is only your estate if you are dead. You get half, the children if they are his also get half. If they aren’t his see 2nd paragraph above.

1 Like

Thanks Stella, interesting article! Yes I have sought legal advice through a notaire but it is taking ages to get any info. does this mean that as his wife, if my husband died before his step mum that I would be responsible for her care?

Thanks Veronique for the reply. I totally understand the reasoning for the adoption and agree to it but as I am being asked to sign this letter, there must be an implication. If for example, my husband died, I would inherit everything of course but as he would have been adopted into the family and I am not, does the random cousin have any rights to make a claim also?

If you re-read his final paragraphs… I think that is what it means… as the link is still there with your children (even though their father/your spouse is dead in your example).

The original poster, said that his wife had been dead for 3.5 years and yet he could still be called upon as responsible for his mother-in-law…

“If for example, my husband died, I would inherit everything of course”

No you wouldn’t, not if you have children. There is no of course about it. The random cousin, however, has no rights unless there are no direct descendants (=children) or ascendants (=parents). This is to stop gaga grand’père leaving the farm/factory/shop/château/chests full of bullion etc to some floozy or the local cats’ home.

You don’t need to be adopted into the family, you will have a legal connexion (marriage) with it once your husband has been adopted; your husband, at the moment, has no legal relationship with his step-mother, she is just his father’s wife and no relation to your husband at all.

So when she inherits 50% of the father’s assets when he dies (if there are any seeing he can give them to her tax free while he is alive), none of those assets will be coming your husband’s way when she in turn shuffles off the mortal coil, unless he has been adopted.

As for looking after her when she is old and infirm etc well obv you will have to, she will be your mother-in-law.

I think this is an area of understanding, that differs greatly between UK and France…the Family aspect…the legal aspect …

In a normal, loving family situation…family will support family (if they can)… but there is no legal requirement. You can be a rich person and yet your grandmother is living in poverty…you will not be forced to pay her bills or to help in any way… (though if you were famous you might be publicly shamed into doing something.)

Parents can “chuck” their kids out at around 18 (?) and are not responsible for them after that… sounds ghastly, happens a lot…

Us Brits need to have an understanding of French Family legalities and responsibilities… we just need educating :grin:

How many of us have the Code Civil as bedtime reading, I wonder…:wink:


Guarantees rapid, deep but possibly troubled sleep :wink:


Hi Veronique, sorry to take ages to reply but I have been away with work and then on holiday.

So basically if I sign to agree the adoption my husband and then I (should he die first) would be responsible financially for my mother in law in her old age…that is not so bad…she is family after all.

My husband and I do not have children between us…I have 2 x sons from my first marriage and my husband has a son from his first marriage also. So if both my husband and I die (heaven forbid) before my mother-in-law could my sons also be responsible financially for their step grandmother or could my husbands son be responsible??


Generally in the case of adult adoption it stops with the adult concerned, so the children of the adopted person aren’t concerned, at least that is how it works in Germany. So for France you should check!

Along the same lines…
When we are living in France, can my husband adopt my daughters, even though they’re adults and 2 of them will be living in the UK?
He has no children of his own and has been dad to the girls for 16 years in the UK.

Is their biological father alive? I think you would need to see a notaire.

He is, but hasn’t been part of their lives for over 16 years. He wants nothing to do with them!
As adults can they be adopted ithout his permission?

You need to see a notaire, in my case the problem didn’t arise because my father died some time ago. It would raise questions in French law, see a notaire and not a solicitor ( in English law I am not sure adult adoption exists, because filiation doesn’t affect inheritance).
According to Fr law his wishes not to see them etc have no bearing on his being a father and a court would condemn him to support them at least until they have finished higher education. For me a lot of family related stuff seems bizarre in England, where in my narrow experience it is considered perfectly normal for a man to dump his children and never see them, and certainly only lip service is paid to putting things right.

The girls are already adults, 1married with a child another due to marry later this year. There is no expectation of support from ex.
This is about succession for the girls as I’m really worried about what will happen if I die first and then my husband. At the moment the girls will be hit with a high tax bill and won’t be able to afford to keep the house.
My husband has no children of his own and our girls would inherit equally!

Sorry about digressing - I have to deal with a whole English ex family in law who think that 25€ a month is adequate child support for 5 children.


In your particular situation, you absolutely must see a notaire.

Talk to a Notaire. There will be ways around the problem especially if you have the house in your name with a usufruit allowing your husband to remain in the house if you pre-decease him with your children inheriting upon his death. My neighbour is in exactly that position.

I tried to do this many years ago and was told by the french court at Saintes that it is not possible to adopt adult UK children as UK law does not allow adult adoption.
There are other ways to ensure their inheritance - for instance you should buy your french house in your name only , and put all possible assets in your sole name . You then safeguard your husband in the event of your dying first either by a will,or a “donation entre époux” which gives him a life interest in all your assets , including the house , and the possibility under a "quasi-usufruit "(specify this in the will or donation) to spend any monies or investments.
If in doubt discuss with a notaire BEFORE buying a house, and take a copy of this post.

PS. I have heard stories of people succeeding in adopting UK adults ,in spite of the above court ruling , but your notaire can advise you on that.