Will/Property in France


Newbie here, so please be gentle with me :).

Have a property in in France for over 10 years now, live in the uk, hoping to move to France next year.

I am single , with no children. Some one mentioned to me that if you dont have a will, that should i die the property in France will just go to the state. Does anyone know if this is true?.

I would like to thank you in advance for any replies i may receive.

Hi Charlie and welcome to the Forum

Do you have any relatives, at all
 ??? no matter how far “removed”

I believe that what you “leave behind” goes to relatives and if you have no-one then, yes, it goes to The State
 unless you make a Testament/Will to the contrary

Souscrire une assurance vie pour transmettre son épargne sans héritier.

If you have no one to leave your property to, please consider a will to gift it to a charity - far nicer than the state getting it i would have thought :grinning:


Agree that a charity would be very grateful!

The way it works is that a notaire will spend months searching for your second cousin twice removed. And only absolutely no-one can be found does it go to the State.

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You say you don’t have children yourself but do you have any siblings, and if so do they have children?

You can enter your circumstances here to see who would be entitled to inherit your house before the state gets it.


Thank you for the replies and the usefull link.

Hopefully i wont be single forever, so that might make it easier :slight_smile:


Hi Stella.

I do have a brother. I just wondered if it would only be left to chidren or a wife for example.
Thank you for putting my mind at rest. I will do a will just incase.

Welcome, CD - it may be appropriate to mention that the rules for Will making are quite different in France, and you should comply with those, as your property is in France. Ideally, contact a notaire, who will know exactly what to do - and you can file the document with them too.

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That is true if you have no surviving relatives, but only after the notary in charge of managing the estate can not find a surviving heir ascendant or descendant:

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That’s generally true but for foreigners it is slightly different since they can choose to have their will applied according to the law where they come from.


True, Vero, but a] you need to be certain that the possibilities of UK law does not involve a French inheritance tax liability; b] It is better that the actual document is written according to French law (ie. Hand-written; not witnessed; preferably dictated by a notaire); and c] France has tried to withdraw from this EU provision, and the whole thing is currently ‘under discussion’ with Brussels.
Therefore best to play safe at the present time.

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Oh yes testament olographe or document drawn up by and with a notaire, which is even better if the person’s French isn’t fluent. You have more options than we do, nevertheless!

Not necessarily, it depends on how long you’ve been married and how long you’ve been resident in France. If they’re both over 10 years then inheritance comes under french law .

Yes. If you’re foreign it’s slightly different. Foreign meaning not French, obviously.

Ces diffĂ©rents dĂ©veloppements ne valent cependant que s’agissant d’une succession sans lien d’extranĂ©itĂ©, c’est-Ă -dire sans qu’il n’existe de lien avec une lĂ©gislation internationale : prĂ©sence d’un bien Ă  l’étranger, nationalitĂ© non française, centre des intĂ©rĂȘts Ă©conomiques 
 Il peut cependant arriver, que la compĂ©tence française d’une juridiction soit remise en cause, par un des enfants, par un Ă©tat ou un conjoint. De ce fait, les rĂšgles de dĂ©termination de la loi applicable devront ĂȘtre mises en oeuvre.

S’agissant d’une succession internationale, il faut donc relever que : « afin de dĂ©terminer la rĂ©sidence habituelle, l’autoritĂ© charg Ă©e de la succession doit procĂ© der Đ° une Ă©valuation d’ensemble des circonstances de la vie du dĂ©funt au cours des annĂ©es prĂ©cĂ©dant son dĂ©cĂšs et au moment de son dĂ©cĂšs, prenant en compte tous les Ă©lĂ©ments de fait pertinents, notamment la durĂ©e et la rĂ©gularitĂ© de la pr Ă©sence du dĂ©funt dans l’état concernĂ© ainsi que les conditions et les raisons de cette prĂ©sence, la rĂ©sidence habituelle ainsi dĂ©terminĂ©e devant rĂ©vĂ©ler un lien Ă©troit et stable avec l’état concernĂ©, compte tenu des objectifs spĂ©cifiques du RĂ©gl. (UE) n ° 650/2012 du Parlement europĂ©en et du Conseil du 4 juill. 2012 relatifs Đ° la comp Ă©tence; dans les cas oĂč il s’avĂšre complexe de dĂ©terminer la rĂ©sidence habituelle du dĂ©funt, par exemple lorsque celui-ci vivait de faç on altern Ă©e dans plusieurs Ă©tats ou voyageait d’un Ă©tat Đ° un autre sans s’ĂȘ tre install Ă© de fa çon permanente dans un Ă©tat, sa nationalitĂ© ou le lieu de situation de ses principaux biens pourrait constituer un critĂšre particulier pour l’apprĂ©ciation globale de toutes les circonstances de fait ( en l’esp Ăšce, rĂ©sidence habituelle du dĂ©funt Ă  New York et incompĂ©tence dejuridictions françaises alors que le dĂ©funt partageait son temps entre les États-Unis et la France, sans que la durĂ©e des sĂ©jours dans l’un ou l’autre pays puisse ĂȘtre dĂ©terminante pour la solution du litige, compte tenu de sa nationalitĂ© amĂ©ricaine et de la situation de l’ensemble de ses principaux biens aux États-Unis, critĂšres particuliers retenus pour l’apprĂ©ciation globale des circonstances de fait permettant de dĂ©terminer sa rĂ©sidence habituelle) » (Cour de cassation, civile, Chambre civile 1, 29 mai 2019, 18-13.383, publiĂ© au bulletin).

Here is an article that clearly outlines the complexities


Two important aspects to note -

  • Inheritance laws are not the same as tax laws, which will also apply

  • Make a will. A will follows your informed choices where dying intestate may not.

Being married in the UK also helps as it is recognised in France as Sùperation des biens and also as joint owners immediately. Children of the deceased are also immediate heirs and their share of the deceased party’s property is apportioned after the spouse receives half of it - been there and done it. If not married but in joint names it is more complex if no french will such as en tontine done on day of purchase of property. If no immediate heirs, other family members are sought out and given the chance to inherit but taxes would be high if not french resident so many don’t accept plus if the defunct has debts, they have to pay them off or renounce the inheritance, same with direct heirs and spouses if the deceased had debts they were not party to. You get 10 years in which to accept an inheritance and if you renounce it, you can still accept withinthe ten year limit - we did! At no time was there a demand for any UK will but then we did not have one being french resident.

This is getting too complicated for the purposes of Charliedelta’s basic request for guidance; and their currently uncomplicated circumstances - namely a French property owner; becoming resident in France next year; single; no children.
A few points, therefore. 1] Property (indeed, one’s whole ‘estate’) does not go to the State on death. Under French law it will be passed to the nearest linear family member - and the notaire’s job is to identify this person or persons. This will happen automatically unless you make a Will (testament) setting out something different.
2] I am unable to identify any French law requiring 10 years of residency before it applies, as quoted by Mark. Could he confirm what he is thinking of, please. French law applies applies as soon as you are fiscally resident (ie. pay your taxes here).
3] Vero’s long quote refers only to the problems arising if you want to use your own national laws, but have a history of moving around the world previously - which country’s laws can you opt for?
4] European Succession Law applies to all countries in Europe (not just the EU). France came into line with this in 2015. Then, in 2021, France changed their legislation to give greater protection to women - meaning that their provisions that enabled non-French residents to use their own laws no longer complied with European law. Effectively this puts the interpretation of the current French situation on hold until they agree to fall back into line (or European law changes).

Sorry, should have been clearer. Its also the clause tontine that becomes invalid after 10 years residency.

Just been through all this with our new purchase and notaire - its quite complicated

Only in England, not the same in Scotland (thank goodness).

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Sorry, Mark, that hasn’t made anything clearer! Far from it - since when did a tontine clause expire after 10 years? Never heard of such a thing! Unless you are certain that both of you will die before then, there would be no point in buying en tontine.

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