Maubourguet 05 62 96 94 27; Lembeye 05 59 68 47 71; Vic en Bigorre 05 62 31 92 59

LAWS OF SUCCESSION

This is an issue which is of prime concern to many purchasers of a property in France and some planning at the time of purchase is strongly advised. The notaire is available to discuss all matters relating to succession and advise the solution that best meets your individual requirements. Their advice is free and they only charge fees for registration of any of the acts that you may require. There are also a range of legal services offered by specialized solicitors in the UK.

The following information is not intended as advice but simply to give some understanding as to how the laws of succession in France are applied.

For anybody residing in France, their worldwide assets are considered to fall into their estate and previously would have been dealt with under the French succession laws. The sole exception would have been real estate held outside of France which would fall under the laws of the country where that property was held. For anybody residing outside of France but owning a property in France, only assets held in France would have fallen under the French succession laws.

Under French law direct descendants and / or ascendants are considered to be privileged with regard to succession and cannot be cut out of a will. This law relates to all immovable property held by the deceased and includes all children of the deceased even if they are the product of a previous marriage.

  • For anybody considered to be residing in France, their worldwide assets are considered to fall into their estate and would be dealt with under the French succession laws. The sole exception would be real estate held outside of France which would fall under the laws of the country where that property was held.
  • For anybody residing outside of France but owning a property in France, only assets in held in France would fall under the French succession laws.

If not married:

  • On the death of one or other party the deceased's share of the property will pass to his privileged inheritors and not to the other party. The inheritors would normally have the same rights over the property as the other party and can force a sale or co-habit the property.

P.A.C.S:

Unmarried couples tied by a civil pact of solidarity (PACS) are now also exempt from inheritance tax. The surviving partner of the deceased tied by a civil pact of solidarity now benefits from a tax free inheritance on the portion of the estate as bequeathed to them by will.

If married:

  • If there are children and they are all descendents of the marriage then on the death of the first party the deceased's share would be split between his or her children and the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse would have the choice of the usufruct of the property or 1/4 of the deceased's share.
  • If there are children from a previous marriage, adopted children or illegitimate children, then the spouse would not be able to make the choice of usufruct and would instead inherit 1/4 of the deceased's estate.
  • If there are no children the parents of the deceased would have a claim on the estate amounting to 1/4 each. The surviving spouse would inherit the balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the case of principal residence the surviving spouse has the right to live undisturbed in the property and have use of all the furnishings within.

Under current regulations the surviving spouse is exempt from inheritance tax on their share of the estate.

COMMUNAUTE UNIVERSELLE

Under earlier legislation it had already become possible to opt for a change of marital regime called "Communauté Universelle" through which taxes are not incurred on the death of the first spouse. All assets covered by the "communauté universelle" are considered to belong to a common basket which is owned mutually by both parties. On the death of the first party the surviving spouse is considered to then own the basket in its entirety. The resulting inheritance is regarded as invisible to the fiscal authorities.

If no "communauté universelle" is in place the surviving spouse would share the estate with the offspring of the marriage. However, if there are children from outside of the current marriage, they would be able to claim their share from the estate at the time of death. The children from the current marriage would only inherit their share after the death of the surviving spouse.

TONTINE

Under this system the ownership of the property would pass in its entirety to the surviving member of the partnership. This arrangement is irrevocable however unless both parties agree to annul the contract. A Tontine cannot be challenged through the courts. This status can also be adopted by non married couples. Unless a "PACS" is also in place they will however incur taxes at time of succession of 60%. Unmarried couples tied by a civil pact of solidarity (PACS) are currently exempt from inheritance tax. The surviving partner of the deceased tied by a civil pact of solidarity now benefits from a tax free inheritance on the portion of the estate as bequeathed to them by will.

SOCIETE CIVILE IMMOBILIERE

This is a specific type of company set up with the purpose of owning immovable property. If the shareholders of the SCI are not resident in France the shares of the SCI are treated by law as movable property and would fall under the laws of their country of residence. This means that a will can be made to leave the shares to any party thus avoiding the laws which govern privileged inheritors in France. An SCI can be considered as a commercial company by the fiscal authorities and it may incur taxes on the perceived rental value of the property. There are also running costs and accounts that need to be kept for the French fiscal authorities.


UPCOMING CHANGES

Recent changes in European law (JUNE 2012) should open up more freedom in the choices that are available to foreign purchasers. Although these laws have not yet been ratified in France it should soon be possible to opt for the laws of the country of citizenship to apply at time of death rather than the laws of succession which apply in France to French nationals.

 

Note : All information on these pages are set out and intended as a guideline only and should be verified with a notaire, advocate or lawyer should you wish to take any firm advice relating to any legal matter.

 

Siteweb65.fr : Web Site Design © Immobilier Le Bonheur