Guide to French Inheritance Laws and Taxes

  1. Introduction
  2. French Inheritance Laws
  3. French Inheritance Tax
  4. Inheritance Planning in France

4. Inheritance Planning in France

Although there are forced heirship rules in France there are measures that you take to secure greater control over your estate, and reduce potential inheritance tax liability for inheritors.

You may need to adopt more than one solution, and the precise mix will depend on your own circumstances, aspirations and needs.

However, you need to be mindful of the potential for legal conflict between the different approaches. Whatever you decide needs to be consistent.

Clearly, you should take professional advice, preferably from different sources, which may include your legal/tax advisors, your bank and your notaire.

In 2015, a European regulation came into effect allowing international French property owners to choose whether the law applicable to their succession (but not inheritance taxes) should be that of their place of habitual residence or of their nationality. This is considered below.

There are three main approaches, not all of which are mutually exclusive:

  • Property Ownership
  • Juridical
  • Financial Planning

Within each of these main approaches there are a number of different options open to you, all of which area considered below.

Property Ownership Options

  1. Buy 'En Tontine'
  2. Buy using a Property Company

Juridical Options

  1. Adopt a French Marriage Contract
  2. Enter into a French Civil Partnership
  3. Make a Family Inheritance Pact
  4. Make a Will
  5. Create a Trust Structure
  6. Adopt European Succession Law

Financial Planning Options

  1. Buy or Improve with a Mortgage
  2. Make a Gift Between Man and Wife
  3. Make a Gift to Children/Grandchildren
  4. Make a Gift to Others
  5. Take out Life Insurance

Next: Buy 'En Tontine'

Back: French Inheritance Taxes

The Guides to France are published for general information only.
Please visit our Disclaimer for full details.