Legal Advice on Wills in France
Sarah Bright Thomas is an Avocat Associé and Partner at Bright Avocats.
Sarah Bright Thomas
George R has a question and seeks legal advice on Wills in France
I find myself shying away from preparing my will here in France. I have a UK version but the idea of a French one seems so complicated. What is the actual process? Can we simply translate the English will? A notaire told me they had to verify ownership of everything first.
Making a will in France is not complicated as the most common form is the “olograph” will, where you simply draw up the will in your own handwriting, sign and date it and the will is valid in France, you do not even need witnesses. To ensure the will cannot be mislaid it is advisable to register it with the “fichier central des dispositions de dernières volontés”.
It is often recommended to have a separate will in France if you own property here and even though a UK will is recognised in France, if it contains notions of “trust” or “executors” then this can cause unnecessary complications and, in the case of the existence of a discretionary trust, even have high tax implications.
With the European Succession Regulation if you live in France you can elect your national law to deal with all your assets and thus avoid the French enforced heirship rules if your national law allows you to leave your estate as you wish.
Your will can even be written in English or the language of your choice, it does not have to be in French.
You should seek advice from a specialist before drafting and lodging your will.
First published in the November/December 2019 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Bright Avocats and Shutterstock