Saturday, November 7, 2009

UK will could soon override French succession rules?

Good news indeed for British expats resident in France and concerned by France's antedeluvian system of inheritance laws. Under current legislation, British and other foreign owners of French property are forced to comply with complicated rules of inheritance, that closely define who can inherit their French property and which penalise bequests to those outside the immediate family.

All this could soon change, according to a report in November's issue of the English language newspaper The Connexion, if Community members accept proposals adopted by the European Commission, under which a will could decree that the deceased's estate be dealt with under the laws of their nationality - such as a British person living in France, or a British resident owning a property - such as a second home - in France.

This would bring France into line with other European countries where successions involving property are dealt with under the (deceased) owner's national legislation. It would also affect the many French citizens living in Britain and owning property there.

However the brief statement from the European Commission on 15 October somewhat confusingly adds that 'the measure wil not affect inheritance taxes, which will continue to be covered by national law, as will issues such as who inherits and how survivors share assets'.

Adoption by the European Commission is the first stage in the new legislation becoming EU law, and would be followed by national enabling legislation in order for it to become law in each Member State.

Source: The Connexion, Issue 85, November 2009.