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Money & Finance

Bereavement Payments in France 2019

Tuesday 09 July 2019

The social security system in France provides for a capital sum to be paid to the spouse or children of a deceased active or retired business owner/employee in France.

Business owners and employees in France may well be liable for the payment of often substantial social security contributions, but with that obligation also comes an entitlement to a range of benefits and services, most notably health cover and a retirement pension.

Among the remaining benefits is a capital sum that is payable in the event of their death. The payment is called capital décès.

The sum is ordinarily payable to the surviving spouse/civil partner, in the absence of which dependant children have an entitlement.

It is not taken into account for the purposes of inheritance tax liability, and neither is it subject to social charges or income tax.

The amount of the grant and the terms on which it is paid depends on whether the deceased had still been in business, or whether they were retired, and the nature of their business activity. There are separate rules for former employees.

i. Active Business Owners

In relation to active business owners the sum payable depends upon the nature of the business activity that was undertaken by the deceased.

In the case of those in a trade or commercial activity (artisans, commerçants), the sum payable is 20% of the plafond annuel de la Sécurité sociale, which in 2019 equates to €8,104.

In addition, if you have a dependant child an additional sum of €2,026 (5% of the plafond annuel de la Sécurité sociale) is payable.

For those in one of the professions libérales the rules differ by the nature of activity. In some cases the level of the grant is proportional to the level of the contributions or family circumstances, whilst in other cases it is a fixed sum.

In the case of those professions libérales affiliated to the principal insurer CIPAV there are three sums - €15,780, €47,340 and €79,900 - depending on the class of cover (contribution level) they have chosen. The grant is significantly lower if the deceased is over 65 years of age, by a minimum of 52%, a reduction which increases with age.

Where a former active artisan business owner was also in receipt of a French state retirement pension no bereavement grant is payable.

ii. Retired Business Owners

In the case of a retired business owner the level of the grant is 8% of the plafond annuel de la Sécurité sociale, which in 2019 is €3,241.

In relation to artisans and commerçants the grant is payable on condition that the deceased paid a minimum of 20 years social security contributions (or 80 quarters), and that their trade or commercial activity was the last professional activity undertaken.

Once again, there are separate rules for those in one of the professions libérales which vary by fund, but the rule on the 20 year contribution record is one that does not apply.

In relation to CIPAV and many other professions libérales the same entitlement applies, whether or not the deceased was retired or still in business.

iii. Salaried Employees

The sum payable to a former salaried employee is €3,461, a figure which is revised annually in line with inflation.

Application Process

The grant is not distributed automatically. The beneficiary needs to make an application, which must be made within two years of the death of the deceased.

Application for a former business owner needs to be made to the relevant office of the social security agency to which the owner was attached, which you can do from Secu-Independants.

Beneficiaries of former salaried employees make their claim to their local CPAM.

Widow's Pension

The widow of the deceased may also be entitled to a pension, the level of which depends on the contribution record of the deceased, family circumstances and rules of the pension fund to which the business owner/employee was affiliated.

We published an article on this topic in a recent Newsletter, which you can find at Widow's Pension in France 2019.

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