This guide has been prepared in collaboration with France based English speaking volunteer group Bereavement Support Network (BSN). BSN helps English speaking residents throughout France to manage their bereavement or terminal illness. You can contact BSN by mail at email@example.com or via their website at Bereavement Support Network.
- Registering a Death
- Bank Accounts
- Spouses's Pension
- Bereavement Grant
- UK Pensions/Benefits
- Income Tax
- Vehicle Sale/Transfer
6. Inheritance and Succession Procedures
Unless the estate of the deceased is worth less than €5,000, you will be required to make an inheritance tax declaration called a déclaration de succession. That does not necessarily mean you will be liable for inheritance tax.
You need to make the declaration within six months of death.
The formalities are handled by a notaire, whom you will need to appoint if you do not have a regular notaire.
We have a complete guide you can read at Inheritance Tax Declaration.
Some planning in advance, if at all possible, can be most helpful.
A sealed letter left by the deceased with his/her private papers can be most helpful.
Besides instructions for the funeral it should contain details of all the writer’s affairs. This list is not exclusive but should include most of the following: note of who holds any will; birth certificate; marriage certificate(s); divorce certificate(s); death certificate of spouse/partner; names and whereabouts of any children or other relatives.
Also included should be details about pensions, state benefits, stocks and shares, insurance policies, details of property owned and where other papers and keys may be found.
The names and addresses of accountant, lawyer and stockbroker may be relevant for some people.
The notaire will need the passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce papers, and the will of the deceased, as well as identity documents of inheritors. Whether they are prepared to accept copies or originals will depend on the notaire, but generally speaking original documents are required.
They will also need all bank details and documentation on assets owned personally and jointly by the deceased.
You will also need to provide them with their tax returns and information on social benefits they may have received.
Details of debts must also be provided, including utility bills.
The notaire fees and taxes associated with administration of an estate can be substantial, as we set out in our Newsletter article Death and Estate Administration in France, which we recommend you read.
There are frequently complaints of overcharging. Accordingly, ask the notaire for a detailed written estimate, and consider inviting estimates from two or more notaires.
Unless you stay on top of the notaire, there are frequently delays that occur.
If the deceased has opted for the right that his/her will is subject to UK law, evidence of this must be provided to the notaire and it will be required for the Will to be translated into French by an accredited translator, lists of whom can be obtained either from the mairie or at Traducteurs Assermentés.
You may also be interested to read a legal case reported in France Insider of a French resident who relocated to Portugal shortly before his death, which you can find at Principal Residence and French Succession Laws.
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