French Probate, Estate Planning and Wills
We deal with all forms of French succession work. This includes French probates, cross-border tax and estate planning as well as drafting French Wills.
We respect your arrangements with your existing lawyers and accountants, who may have no experience in France. We will, and indeed prefer, to work closely with them if you so wish. They will have knowledge of your UK affairs and it is almost always best that they continue to deal with your matters in the UK and we assist them with the French and international aspects.
Many of our clients are other solicitors/lawyers, both in the UK and abroad, who ask us to deal with the cross-border/French aspects of their clients’ estates. We can act either for such solicitors/lawyers or for the estate direct.
We can deal with both the French and the UK estate if required.
If required we are able to travel to France to resolve any practical issues. In the past this has involved settling disputes the deceased was involved in, going through the deceased’s papers searching for a will, taking possession of properties and vehicles left by the deceased. We have a hands on and practical approach to resolving matters which otherwise can become very protracted.
We offer no financial services and leave investment of probate funds repatriated from France, such as the sale proceeds of properties, to your existing advisers. The same applies to structured investments as part of your estate planning. We leave investment in products such as “assurances-vie” to your financial advisers.
We normally operate on an hourly rate. Wherever possible work is carried out at the lowest available fee earner’s billing rate. Estimates for dealing with estates are provided on request.
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.