How do you apply for Probate in France?

This guide aims to give an overview of the process involving the administration of an estate in France.

The administration of a French estate compromises three main stages.

In all cases, any French inheritance tax due must be paid within 6 months of the date of death (or within 12 months if the deceased died outside France).

First Stage

We liaise with the Notaire to draw up the Inheritance Deed.

To assist the Notaire in drawing up the deed, we provide the Notaire with documents enabling the Notaire to identify the beneficiaries who are entitled to inherit the deceased’s estate.

The deed is referred to as acte de notoriété which legally establishes the identity of the beneficiaries and the proportion of the estate they are each entitled to receive.

The Notaire will also ascertain if any French Will has been registered by checking with the French Central Wills Registry and, if so, where the original is being kept.  

Second Stage

We collaborate with the Notaire to complete the French inheritance tax return (déclaration de succession) and advise the executor on its interaction with the UK inheritance tax. This is to ensure inheritance tax is not paid twice on the same assets.

Unlike in England where the deceased’s estate is liable for inheritance tax, in France it is the deceased’s beneficiaries who are liable to pay inheritance tax.

We also assist our clients in having the documents translated, notarised and apostilled in the UK to ensure they comply with the requirements under French law.

Final Stage

The final stage of the administration of a French estate is the legal division of the assets amongst the beneficiaries in accordance with the acte de partage prepared by the Notaire.

How we can help?

This guide is not a substitute for full legal advice. If you are an executor of an estate with French assets and you require legal advice and assistance in this regard, please contact us for further information.

We have extensive experience in liaising with beneficiaries, executors and French Notaries in relation to the administration of French estates to ensure the estate is administered as quickly as possible and for advising you throughout. Please contact us for further information.

Written by Brian Tan (Partner), assisted by Aishwarya Suresh (Paralegal)

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