New inheritance rules

Britons who live in the UK and have a second home in France can benefit from the new EU inheritance regulation that comes into force on August 17, 2015, and thus opt for British law to apply to their French home. This is contrary to previous expectations and means they can, if they wish, bypass restrictive French rules.


Thank you, john locke, for your help. We will go back to the avocats and see what they say again.

We actually had one avocat tell us that our tontine would not protect against claims of my husband's children from a prior marriage. Then we've had opinions that that avocat was nuts but yet they couldn't point us to the law that clarified that there are no reserved heirship in tontined property. It has been a merry-go-round. The only reason that we haven't done our wills is because of the uncertainty of the advice so again I thank you for your help.

Not my area of expertise… Ask a French notaire to draw up the will so it conforms to EU regulation 650/2012.

Look at section 9 and 11… As long as it only concerns succession then the regulation is applicable

Show your avocation this…

Thanks, John, and I do appreciate your input here BUT having been told two avocats in France that our French real estate would still come under French inheritance with the dreaded forced heirship after August 17, 2015, it is now bothering us once again.

The following is an excerpt which I copied from the first article and I must say that I find it ambiguous at best.

"However, the initiative in no way alters the substantive national rules on successions.

The following issues continue to be governed by national rules:

  • who is to inherit or the share of assets going to children or spouses;
  • property law and family law in an EU country;
  • the tax arrangements for assets making up a succession" [Emphasis by me]

what is the exact wording that one would put in one's will to make this apply? For example, both I and my husband would like UK law to apply to our French and UK properties and assets (to ensure the stepchildren can't cause trouble!) but want to ensure that our notaire puts in the correct wording. So what phrase or wording would be written ... has anybody written a UK-law will anticipating August's changes?

The single nature of the law applicable to the inheritance. The applicable legal system will govern the entirety of the inheritance. Thus no distinction will be made between real estate and movable goods, as used to be the case in certain States such as France.

I can only point you to the regulation...

We are aware of the August changes which is why we sought legal advice. Again, we have been told that leaving our estate to each other as of August 17th is doable EXCEPT for real estate situated in France because British law does not cover foreign real estate.

you have been correctly informed up to now but from August everything changes ..

Yes, but we have been told that you cannot transmit French real estate to whoever you wish via a will with your own national inheritance law. Believe me, it is not easy to get clarification on this point. Our real estate is in tontine but we wanted to also cover it in a will with British law prevailing. Have been told twice that British law with regard to immovable property will follow French law.

Up until August 2015, one’s estate is divided between movable property (devolved according to the law of the decedent’s country of residence), and immovable property (subject to the law of the country where the property is located). This often leads to applying two or more inheritance laws from two or more countries.From August 17th, 2015, only one law will apply for all your assets, whether movable or immovable, personal or real property: the law of your country of residence.Needless to say, using a sole and unique law will greatly simplify how international estates are handled.
Choosing the law applicable to your estate

Another interesting change is brought by this new regulation: not only will only one country's law be applicable to your estate, but you will also be able to choose which country's law is applied.

If the law that would normally apply, ie the law of your country of residence, doesn’t please you, you will be free to replace it with the law of your country of citizenship.

So if you live in France but would rather have your estate transmitted to your heirs according to your own national inheritance law, you just have to draft a will saying so.

... but we have been told that British law provides for foreign real estate to pass according to the law of the country in which the real estate is located, and so for France, there is no benefit for real estates. Banks accounts and stocks are different. I would love for someone to tell me that I am wrong and be correct but two big firms have given us this information.