Making a Will in France
Wednesday 06 January 2016
Our article last month on the new succession framework in Europe prompted many mails from you about making a will in France.
As we indicated in the article, if you are resident in France and you wish to make use of your right to adopt the inheritance laws of your nationality you will need to make a will.
Although it is possible to prepare a will in your own handwriting in English, we would strongly recommend you only make a will in French through the auspices of a notaire.
Such a will is called a testament authentique.
Whether or not you also need to consider retaining your own English speaking solicitor alongside the notaire will depend on the circumstances - language, size of estate, complexity of testamentary wishes, and whether you wish to bear the cost of doing so.
However, particularly if language is an issue, or you consider the notaire does not have an adequate understanding of the inheritance laws and procedures of your country, you either need to consider using a different notaire or engaging a solicitor to oversee their work.
The notaire is obliged to offer appropriate advice to you in the drafting of the will. This will need to include advice on the inheritance tax implications of your wishes.
A preliminary visit to a notaire to discuss your plans should soon establish whether or not they are up to the task.
The notarial procedure requires the involvement of two notaires, or at least one notaire and two witnesses.
The cost of the process is fixed by law, and should be around €150. You may need to pay more for translation assistance.
Once completed the will is entered on to the official national register, called the Fichier central des dispositions des dernières volontés (FCDDV).
It is possible for you to later modify your will, when the same procedure will operate.