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Legal advice needed on French property inheritance laws-how to go about it

(28 Posts)
mignonette Wed 10-Jul-13 10:49:04

A few years before my Father died he informed me that upon his death according to French property laws, My siblings and I would inherit 75% of his house in France. He has been married to my stepmother for 23 years and they have no arrangement to protect the house from the inheritance laws.

He died last year and my stepmother is claiming that they 'left the house to each other' in their wills. She met another man three months after his death and has now placed the house on the market. They also have two other British properties and all three are owned outright so she will not be left homeless or financially vulnerable.

What do I need to do to ensure that the French laws are upheld regarding our inheritance? I do not know who her lawyer is and she will not tell us anything other than that it is hers to do as she wishes. How do I initiate legal action and do I need to inform the French authorities and if so, who and how? Can we receive any legal aid to do this? Would you advise against no win, no fee for example?

Please do not post here if you wish to advise me not to pursue this for whatever moral reasons. The family story is more complicated than I wish to disclose here and we siblings have made up our mind to proceed. we just do not know what to do.

Thanks in advance.

kirsty75005 Fri 12-Jul-13 06:53:43

@mignonette. One last thing : I don't believe you're liable for CGT on the sale of an inheritance in France. Or more precisely, I think you will be taxed on the difference between the value of the house at the time of sale and its value at the time of the settling of the estate, not the difference between what you get for it and what your father paid for it. (The idea being that you paid death duty which replaces CGT at the moment of the settling of the estate.) You should check this but if I'm right, given the current evolution of the French housing market, you probably wouldn't have to pay CGT at all if you did inherit and sell the house.

whataboutbob Fri 12-Jul-13 21:17:08

Hi mignonette. I m probably not as we'll informed as others who have already posted on here, but my grandparents were French and my brother and I inherited their property, mum having pre deceased her parents. As you know in France you cannot disinherit your children. You are an heritier reservataire, the state sets aside a certain amount of money and assets for you even if you are not mentioned in the will. The rest will go to whoever is mentioned in the will. If money is held in the uk then I guess that part of the inheritance would go to your stepmother, if she is named in his will. But the french property should at least in part go to you and any siblings. My only piece of advice would be to not necessarily trust the notaries. They are not the equivalent of the UK solicitor. Their first duty is to the French state and to collect taxes. Their very near second I suspect is to themselves. My grandparents' solicitor's offer to sell their apartment via his etude was totally self serving- he mentioned a price which on checking was about 66% only of the true value.

tb Sat 13-Jul-13 18:52:25

We've lived in France for the last 7 years. We were married in the UK, and lived there for over 20 years before moving.

Under the Hague convention this meant that, when we bought a house in France, we had 'separation de biens' which meant that we each owned half, and it was only after we paid to have a French marriage contract drawn up that it became 'commonauté de biens' - as in the UK.

So, at the absolute outside, I would imagine that your sm could only be entitled to half of the house.

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