Will under English law

I have a will that was drawn up in the UK a few years ago. I have lived in France since January 2014. I understand that as from August 2015 with the new Inheritance laws I can choose to have English law to apply to my estate.

Can anyone tell me what I have to do? Do I have to have an English solicitor add this request to my existing will? Do I need to ask a notaire here in France to add a clause?

I have read several articles but it is currently mystifying me. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

One last thing, I promise. EU Reg 650 2012 was intended as a "one size fits all". I eliminates the need for all of the regimes. Great to hear everyones views.

David, what I reported is based on advice from a Notaire in France and my lawyers in the UK. You have missed the point that our property in jointly owned and our French marriage contract is "Communaute Universelle" which ensures that is what will happen.

Forgive me, I missed the marriage contract bit.

But I entirely agree that we all should take legal advice, which as I say is what we did, but also each of us have different domestic issues such that "one size fits all" may not be the best solution.

I agree get professional advice.

Under the new EU reg the designation will stand, however the question of tax liability may cause delays. Example: I die and my spouse is allowed to inherit our joint property under the succession laws of Canada. However the heirs may still be liable for the tax that would otherwise have been payable to the French under French law had the designation not been made to have the estate governed under the laws of Canada (insert UK). I am waiting to hear of a test.

I think David Silcox has got it right....last sentence is very relevant.....and until it is actually tested in a "French" court, I really don't think we will know the answer regardless of where or how your will is written, this country thrives on making up the rules at the point of impact.....i.e. wait until it happens then we'll decide!

Good advice Dave Spokes. The correct terminology is important and the law only allows you to have the dissolution of your estate governed by the laws of your nationality. Be aware (at least I have been told that) under French law you are not allowed to exclude rightful heirs.

You really need to take best advice from a notaire and possibly a knowledgeable financial consultant, both of whom should be chosen with care and with personal recommendations.

We have been advised that a French will must be hand written in French. An English speaking notaire should help. It is now possible to specify how your estate should be apportioned and to whom.

The tax issue is more complex, especially where children from previous marriages are concerned. It is therefore important that the will is 100% correct.

Peter under French law if you die your French property is divided between your heirs with your wife being entitled to a small portion. This applies even if you are not a French tax resident. Please do not take my word for it. Go to a Notaire, site EU regulation 650 2012 (I think).

I have been through the grinder with this as well. In our case, my second marriage with only children from first. Everything is in joint names so under French law the assets go to the survivor and in effect we do not need a Will.

But we also have English assets, some joint and some not, where theoretically when say I die, I am intestate. However, I have spoken to and/or written to the various finance companies and the "rule" is that provided we can supply a death certificate and a marriage certificate the assets will be "transferred" to, in this example, my wife.

The only complication arises if we die simultaneously in some catastrophic accident, then the estate will go to my children and nothing to Caroline's family or as she wishes. For that you need a Will which states al the stuff we already know from this discussion.

The point being is that each family often has a unique set of circumstances that require careful thought and research. As is clear it a complex problem.

I have not read every comment but I have researched this to death and have done what must be done to ensure that disposition of my estate takes place in accordance with the laws of my nationality, which is the correct wording. You must see a Notaire in France, there is simple but specific wording, it can be written in English however if you have an empathetic Notaire he may help you translate it on the spot where you might sign it. The cost should not exceed a few 100 euros and it is not complicated. There are a lot of horror stories especially where 2nd marriages and greedy children are involved. The issue of inheritance tax is not addressed by the legislation.

Thank you all for your input and advice. Very much appreciated.

Very many thanks for your sound advice Peter Scawen. Now on our action list.



I do not know but I am almost certain that your Will has to be registered with the French authorities and I guess for that you need a Notaire to go thru the correct process. Essentially the same comments in my reply to Ken apply to you and your estate, do it now and ensure that the paperwork is right and lodged with the right authorities.

Hi Ken

Uh, with respect you are being unwise. I do NOT know the answer but at least you should ensure that your French property is included in your English Will and my intuition says, talk to your Notaire about what you need to do in France.

I think your expectation about inheritance is correct but in a culture driven by bureaucracy and procedures I fear having "nothing" and assuming default is imprudent, if only that it might take your children much time and money to sort out the mess post your death, which is easily avoidable now

My will is written in english by myself, is witnessed, and a copy is held by the executors who are my brother and sister in law, living in England. I update it regularly (eg when I changed cars). I can easily write it in French. I am not wealthy and actually have very little to leave. Is it essential to involve lawyers in either or both countries or is it likely to be accepted simply by including a statement that I would like English Law to apply.

Our French property is a maison secondaire (we're resident in UK). We understand that under French Law the house will be divided between our two sons, on second death, and are quite happy with that. With that in mind we haven't included the house in our English wills and have not drawn up any French wills.

Would we be foolish or naive to leave things as they are? Or should we draw up English only wills to include the property in France and/or would we need to register said wills in France or draw up additional French wills to be on the safe side?

I know it's a pretty complex matter for all but any advice from this esteemed forum would be gratefully received.

For Robert, my understanding is that you can handwrite a will to cover french assets, in english, it does not need to be witnessed, there is no cost but must specify the location and date. Write is simply and directly "I give X Y". There is more detailed support available on the internet. But you may not need a French will

The EU legislation (in english) is available on the internet. To "elect" for a country that country should be your country of residence (residence is complex and individually determined)

The Certificate of Succession does not affect the "death duties" payable. France can apply inheritance tax on property in France in the estate of the deceased.

If there are children in France they still have priority rights on the estate

I believe that on the notaires.fr site there is a leaflet available which should initiate a common approach amongst notaires. But as many contributions to SFN demonstrate notaires are not born equal. And ask for the cost in advance before instructing a notaire. One notaire wanted half as much again as another to provide their same (marriage contract) solution to my inheritence needs, and no solution was actually required

This does get a bit complicated. I don't think there is a 'one fits all' answer. I don't know where you live, but we have a seminar on the subject on Nov 16th at Confolens (16500) presented by an English speaking French finance expert and a Notaire.

There have been many discussions about this topic. This is a link to an earlier discussion which I think was very helpful.



I had a meeting with my Notaire on Wednesday and even he was a bit vague on the subject, in fact he ran off to speak to some one else. He suggests I write out my will, he'll translate and register it, job done! Needless to say, I'm a wee bit wary of that. As a single guy with no family I can see the French government rubbing there sticky fingers together and going for a rose' and crepe' at my expense. I think the other problem is , there is no cases have been heard, i.e. no precedents, as the regulation have only recently been introduced, after the first case then we'll have a lot more understanding of what needs to be done. I have a will in the UK which I'll have to have redrawn, but I'll be interested to read of other peoples experiences.