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YES, in France, you can disinherit your descendants in an international inheritance

This article is for general information only. French law is a highly specialised area and you should only act or refrain from acting after receiving full professional advice on the facts of your particular case. This article is for general information and does not constitute investment advice. Always consult an IFA.

By repealing the right to claim the worldwide value of the “réserve héréditaire” against the French assets, the French Constitutional Council August 5th, 2011 had opened the way to the weakening of this principle. The “réserve héréditaire” is the portion of the estate which is reserved by the law for certain protected heirs.

Recently, French heirs brought a case in the Court of Cassation asking for the reserved rights to be applied to the French assets of the deceased after they had been excluded from their parents’ estates to which Californian law had been applied.

According to the European Succession Regulation, which states that the law applicable to an estate is the law of the national residence of the deceased, the Court of Cassation, declared in two judgments of September 27th, 2017 that " the foreign inheritance law which ignores the “réserve héreditaire” is not in itself against French international law and can only set aside if its application leads to a situation which is incompatible with the essential principles of the French law ".

Accordingly, a foreign law which does not recognise the “réserve héréditaire” is not against the French international law. It is necessary to examine, case by case:

  1. if its application results in an unacceptable situation, such as leaving a very young child without resources.

  2. if the link with the foreign law is not fraudulent. The choice should not be artificial or made only to evade the law which would normally have been applicable.

March 2018

Romain Candela
Sykes Anderson Perry Limited