UK Wills on French Property

Email tonight refers to yougov site which claims

" Inheritance tax and wills

Wills made under UK law will remain valid after Brexit. This includes wills that apply to property in the EU. Property abroad will continue to be subject to local laws."

My Notaire disagrees with this and has told me that for French property French law rules.


Of course my Notaire may be wrong.

French inheritance tax rules apply.
So you can make a UK will and leave your French property to a non relative, but they have to pay 60 cent inheritance tax as per French succession law.
T’was ever thus. Brexit changes nothing.

“YouGov is a British international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm” -

They are talking about " Wills made under UK Law" - which is not quite the same as “Wills made under French Law” … :thinking:

Under French Law, a Resident in France (of any nationality) can choose to have the Inheritance Rules of the land of his/her birth… applied to his/her Estate, provided this choice is clearly stated in the Will made here in France. (this applies to european Residents in France and non-european Residents in France)

As Anna says… French Inheritance TAX Rules will apply, regardless.

This has been much discussed on the forum and Brexit changes nothing… in this case…

Your notaire is wrong. Anna is right.

The ability to choose to have your will subject to UK law is nothing to do with the EU, it is an instrument that the UK opted out of called Brussels IV. However succession law and inheritance tax are two totally different things, and your notaire should know that.


Correction to my post: Brexit will change something…

Brexit will change European Brits Resident in France… into… Non-European Brits Resident in France… :zipper_mouth_face: but it will not affect the French Law re Wills/Inheritance… :hugs:

I am doing my best to understand the somewhat dismissive note of some of the comments made but I think that you should consider the rights of a child who has been eliminated from an English will. Under French law this is not permitted and an eliminated child MUST inherit it’s due portion of French property. Or so I am told. Anyway when you become a French citizen you swear to give priority to French law.


Richard… not dismissive, simply pointing out what French Law says for its Residents - of whatever Nationality…

English Law enables a person to leave their assets to whomever they please… You have the right to consider that unfair… but, there it is… :relaxed:

Absolutely right, Jane. UK opted out. :zipper_mouth_face:

But France voted to allow us Brits Resident in France to benefit anyway. It was deemed “discrimatory” that Brits Resident in France should NOT be allowed to benefit from the Brussels Agreement… and… after much discussion it ended up with France allowing ALL non-French Residents to benefit (ie not just those from EU countries). :hugs:

And it is perfectly allowable in french law to make your final testament under english law and give your assets to whoever you like. I’ve not yet become a french citizen, so I don’t know what you have to swear but I would have thought this is perfectly compatible with swearing that you will honour and uphold the law?

Sorry if you found comments dismissive. Law is a dry subject and doesn’t lend itself to flowery phrases.

The phrase from the yougov site is taken from the latest iteration of gov’t guidance for Uk citizens living in the EU, here

It is badly phrased. The sentence about property in EU being subject to local laws in my interpretation means that it is subject to local laws about inheritance tax (which it is).

Are you absolutely certain, as someone trained in French law, that an aggrieved child, eliminated from a parent’s UK will, does not have the right to pursue a claim for its due share in a parent’s French property under French succession law.
If someone gets this wrong then the results could be very expensive for survivors.

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Richard… have you read the Brussels Agreement… ???

So Richard, I guess you took a keen interest in Johnny Hallyday’s kids’ law case? What was your view on that, justified or not justified?
As I see it, legally you have the right to opt for a UK will and disinherit a child. The child has the right to contest this in the courts.
I think French inheritance rules shouldn’t be seen in isolation, they should be seen in the context of the mutual obligations lifelong between parents and offspring.

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JH’s case is very complex…

and, of course, born in France means the Brussels Agreement changed nothing for him…

As I understand it… JH was using Californian Law when his Will was drawn up in California … and that is still being contested by his children…

Occasionally, one does hear of family in UK contesting a Will drawn up in the UK… … one rarely hears of them winning their case. UK Inheritance Law is what it is… :wink:

My point was just that wills can be contested. The Brussels agreement gives more flexibility but the courts are there as a backstop if that flexibility is abused. Richard seemed to be questioning whether disinherited kids have any comeback, and they do.
But, there will be cases where the flexibility makes things fairer. Say an English family has a kid who left home at 16, got rich and never went to see the old folks or put a penny into the family home. If the parents die with a property in France they will probably not see why that kid deserves to inherit anything. Under the Brussels agreement they can leave everything to the other sibling who stayed in touch and cared for them. And a French judge is unlikely to overrule that.

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I agree with you… and I see no reason why a French Judge would become involved …

I am of the opinion (perhaps wrongly) that the Brussels Agreement was brought in so that Residents in France could opt for Inheritance Laws as per the land of their birth… and thus opt OUT of French Inheritance Laws - which is cemented in my view by the way it is clearly stated that even if one opts for the land of one’s birth… French Inheritance Tax is still applicable … :wink: :thinking:

My wife passed away suddenly six years ago. We had property and assets in France and abroad, not a fortune but enough, so I had the associated inheritance and tax issues to resolve, not so much for me as for our daughter who was studying in Dublin and therefore an Irish tax resident. I used a sympathetic Notaire I trusted and with whom I was already friendly. I was also lucky that our Bank (HSBC) had structured our French affairs properly, though I paid scant attention at the time because, of course, nobody was planning on dying, Our Notaire did his research and Jill avoided a big tax bill, which I would have had to pay and that would have got us into a whole new Irish gift and capital acquisition tax conundrum. Even though it worked out well (or rather as well as can be expected) in the end it took a couple of years, was stressful and the last thing you wanted to deal with while grieving.

All the Johnny Halliday case tells me, and I didn’t even know there was a case :slight_smile: and based my client side experience I concur with Richard’s advice to be careful, especially about any old notaire’s advice.

I wonder where that leaves me Stella? Born in Lambeth, property and assets in Ireland and France and daughter in Australia? I’m not sure about the land of birth bit. My understanding (well that’s what I think my Notaire said) is that now, unlike six years ago, I could opt for my French property to be treated under Irish inheritance law. Maybe that’s because I have dual citizenship. I dunno.

Also, on the fiscal side are there inheritance tax provisions in dual taxation agreements? Having read one after being caught with potential double taxation on an investment they don’t seem as comprehensive as I would have hoped.

It is quite possible that your Notaire reckons it will suit your circumstances to “choose” Irish Rules rather than French… so you can leave your Estate to heirs of your choice (possibly) and in whatever ratio you wish… However, I have no idea what Irish Rules are… :thinking: and no idea how your Notaire reckons you fit that scenario… :thinking: It’s between you and him… :hugs:

(as an aside… did you really not read anything in the Press about Johnny Hallyday’s death and the subsequent fury about his Will - a bitter dispute which is still ongoing… )

I have read the official Brussels bumpf etc (not just what the Press highlight) … indeed, I follow the EU and French stuff pretty closely (depending on my mood) and then discuss with all and sundry to make sure I am understanding what I am reading…

I have friends in all walks of life and they are used to me quizzing them about something which falls within their area of expertise as and when we meet up… :hugs:

My real point in all my waffle was “ I’m not sure about the land of birth bit“ since my Notaire is saying I can opt for Irish law, yet Ireland is not the land of my birth.
And no, I’ve missed the JH stuff. I’d shy away from any headline with his name in it. I’ve always had an aversion France’s Elvis. Mind you I didn’t like the original either. I’m more a Led Zeppelin or Jacques Brel man myself.

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