New European Inheritance Law

The promised changes to inheritance law came into effect for all deaths occurred since 17th August 2015 allowing people who are resident and non-resident in France to apply the law of their own nationality to their Will in favour of the very strict French inheritance law.

Everybody’s circumstances are different and as always in these situations it is best to take legal/expert advice, but as a general guide this is good news for ex-pats who own property in France and particularly those with children from a previous marriage.

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If you are still on your first marriage and intend to leave your assets to your children in equal shares then the current French law is probably fine for your circumstances and a little less complicated for the French lawyers and notaries to sort out for you as they can work within a system with which they are familiar.

However, if things are less straightforward for you, then you can request your assets are disposed of as per your wishes under the law of your nationality.

People resident in another country can make an explicit choice in a Will to have the law of their nationality applied to property, such as a holiday home, that they own in France. If no explicit choice is made then French notaries would apply the law of your last residence.

If you wish your assets in both France and your country of residence to be treated under the same inheritance law, i.e. of your nationality, then you would need to make an explicit choice in a Will.

A lawyer advised us there are some ‘wrinkles to be ironed out’ but this should be sorted by the end of the year when things are a little clearer. However, as Wills are so important for those you leave behind, if you want to make sure things are as uncomplicated as possible for them after you are gone, then you should contact a professional as soon as possible.