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Does anyone know about wills for dual nationality and 2 countries and 2 houses?

(10 Posts)
tb Wed 27-Feb-13 22:30:04

I have an elderly relative who was born in France.

They moved to the UK in 1939 and have a British passport. Their father was British and their mother was French.

They own property in both the UK and France and so have a bank account in France.

In the last 2 years or so they've made wills - 1 in France and 1 in the UK.

I thought that they could leave everything except the French house under English law, and only the French property would have to be left under French estate law.

They told me recently that their French notaire was asking to include their English property in the French will, but was chased.

I'm concerned that their French relatives will have to pay inheritance tax - at 80% - on anything that they inherit from this relative's bank account in France, as they have an unused nil-rate band from their spouse which would more than cover all their assets with the exception of the French house.

They have no children, and no parents or brothers or sisters.

They have not surrendered their French nationality, but have never had a French passport or identity card as an adult.

However, they insist that in France they are French, and so all their goods in France including bank accounts will be subject to French inheritance tax.

They spend no more than 3 months a year in the French house, and this is treated as a second-home by the French tax authorities.

So, should all their French assets be covered by the French will, or just the house?

montmartre Wed 27-Feb-13 22:36:17

I don't know the answer to this particular question I'm afraid, but I do know one other thing they should think about- under french inheritance law, you cannot settle a person's will until the wills of any deceased inheritors (inheriters?) have been settled- so if anyone that stands to benefit is elderly, the other beneficiaries have to wait until the other deceased beneficiary's estate is settled before they can access any of their inheritance.

Lenghthy legal processes would mean that most of an inheritance will go straight to notaires' bills sad

iheartdusty Wed 27-Feb-13 23:56:09

do't know about France but for many countries HMRC have a deal so you just pay the higher total tax - eg if tax in Country A is 40% and in Country B tax would be 30% and the asset is in Country B, you pay 30% in Country B and only the extra 10% in Country A, not twice.

iheartdusty Thu 28-Feb-13 00:01:30

sorry, just read your Op properly, ignore my irrelevant post.

tb Thu 28-Feb-13 07:12:56

Just to add, their spouse died 6 years ago, and didn't use any of their nil rate band as all their assets were owned jointly.

They have told me that they estimate the value their estate at no more than £500k, so well within the nil rate band, as it stands now. It's now probably less than that with the fall in property prices and the sale of something that realised less than they thought.

They told me that their notaire told them not to worry about the title to the house when they expressed surprise that it was in joint names with their now deceased spouse. This makes me wonder if their marriage is registered at Nantes - the centre for 'foreign' marriages. They married in the UK in 1949.

Since moving to France we've had to have a French marriage contract drawn up so that everything passes to the survivor on the first death. This has been registered at Nantes as neither of us has French nationality.

babybarrister Colombia Thu 28-Feb-13 07:14:58

You need specialist advice not MN I am afraid - get in touch with the French embassy in London who have a list of solicitors expert at this sort of thingsmile

montmartre Thu 28-Feb-13 20:35:53

Has the deceased spouse's estate been settled already?

tb Fri 01-Mar-13 14:21:35

Yes, they didn't really have anything except clothes, and every bank account etc was in joint names.

digerd Fri 01-Mar-13 16:12:30

I do know about French inheritance law. Spouses cannot be the heirs. 2 spouses, if they have no children together, must each make a Will leaving everything in their name to their blood relatives.
If married with children, the children are both their heirs.

Last year, a woman living in France married to her french husband posted here to confirm, that she will get nothing when her husband dies as will all go to their children. She does keep what is in her name or gifted to her by her husband.

mumblechum1 Fri 01-Mar-13 17:10:15

I'm presuming that you realise that they would be considered domiciled in England and Wales on the basis of your OP, and so all assets here are safe? The English will should have been written to include all assets outside the jurisdiction except for the French house which will be covered by the French will, and of course subject to French inheritance tax rules.

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