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European Succession Regulation - Selling French probate property from 17th August 2015

The European Succession Regulation will start to take full effect from 17 August 2015. After this date, French properties being sold by deceased estates will need to be handled with great care. British nationals who die resident in England with French property will, in most cases, have their French estate dealt with under English law. This means that the notaire selling the probate property has to do so under English law.

What many people have not realised is that if English law applies to the French property this also means that English law applies to the administration of the property. Who can sell, who can sign the mandate, will all be determined by English law.

French notaires will not be used to this as in French law the heirs are deemed to own the property from the date of death. This will no longer be the case for deaths on or after 17 August 2015 and the properties will have to be vested in the executors or administrators of the estate as per English law.

For agents it means that the “mandat de vente” has to be signed by the executor/administrator and not the heirs for the notaire to be able to pay the commission on completion. Otherwise the notaire cannot pay out and the executor/administrator would be entitled to refuse to pay.

Agents who sell French properties before the executor/administrator is appointed will be “intermeddling” in the deceased’s estate and will automatically assume full liability for all the deceased’s taxes and debts; as well as the worldwide inheritance tax.

Sykes Anderson Perry are available to help you with any questions on this important change in French property practice.

David Anderson

Solicitor Advocate, Chartered Tax Adviser, Barrister (Unregistered) and Director

Sykes Anderson Perry Limited

13May 2015