New French Inheritance Law for Non-French Residents [Guide]

Last will and testament papers and key as symbol of property.

 Inheriting assets from a relative can be a complex and emotional process, especially when it involves navigating the legal system of a foreign country. 

Understanding the country’s inheritance laws is crucial for non-French residents who may have inherited assets in France. There’s a huge population of non French residents in France that are pretty affluent from all over Europe, UK & the US. It’s a matter of great concern among a lot of such individuals regarding inheritance laws & how they apply to foreigners. The legal

This blog will explore the new French inheritance law for non-French residents, outlining what it means for those who have inherited or may inherit assets in France and how to navigate the legal landscape.

New French Inheritance Law for Non-French Residents

The French government has introduced a new inheritance law for non-French residents who own assets in France. This law allows non-French residents to choose the inheritance law of their country of nationality to apply to their French purchases.

A European Certificate of Succession has been introduced to simplify the inheritance process for non-French residents who own assets in different European countries. These changes provide more flexibility and streamline the inheritance process for non-French residents with investments in France.

How Much Inheritance Is Tax Free In France?

How Much Inheritance Is Tax Free In France

Spouses and partners of a PACS (civil union) have a tax-free allowance of €100,000 each. Children also have a tax-free allowance of €100,000 each, which increases to €159,325 if the child is disabled.

The amount of an inheritance that is tax-free in France is determined by the relationship between the heir and the decedent.

For grandchildren, the tax-free allowance is €1,594, while siblings and nieces/nephews have a tax-free allowance of €15,932. For other heirs, such as friends or distant relatives, the tax-free allowance is only €31,865 .

French Inheritance Laws For US Citizens

If a U.S citizen residing in France passes away, French Succession Law will apply to all assets to his name, within or outside of France. This basically means that the tax imposed & distribution of his property will be as per French Law rather than that of the US.

Under French inheritance laws, assets are divided among heirs according to strict “forced heirship rules” This means that a portion of the estate must be reserved for specific family members, such as children, spouses, and parents, regardless of the deceased’s wishes.

French Inheritance Laws For US Citizens

Understanding the new French inheritance law for non-French residents is crucial for US citizens who have inherited assets in France. In France, inheritance laws differ significantly from those in the United States, so it’s important to be aware of the differences and how they may affect the distribution of assets.

Is An English Will Valid In France?

An English will may be valid in France, but it’s important to understand the requirements for a will to be recognized as valid as per French law. The will must be executed in the presence of a French notary or another authorized individual, such as a consul, to be considered valid.

Additionally, the will must meet certain formalities and requirements, such as being in writing and signed by the testator, and it must be dated and contain the testator’s place of birth.

If an English will does not meet these requirements, it may not be considered valid in France, and the deceased’s assets may be distributed according to the French inheritance laws.

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French Inheritance Tax On Property

French Inheritance Tax On Property

The tax rate on property inherited by spouses or partners of a PACS (civil union) is 0%, with an exemption of up to €1.4 million. For children, the tax rate starts at 5% for inheritances up to €8,072 and can go up to 45% for inheritances over €1.8 million.

The tax rate for grandchildren is also 5% for inheritances up to €8,072, but it increases to 20% for inheritances over €1.8 million.

In France, inheritance tax on the property is determined by several factors, including the value of the property and the relationship between the deceased and the heir.

Do Foreigners Pay Inheritance Tax In France?

Yes, foreigners who inherit assets in France may be subject to French inheritance tax, regardless of nationality or residence. French inheritance tax applies to all assets in France, including real estate and financial assets.

The amount of inheritance tax foreigners may need to pay in France depends on several factors, including the value of the inherited assets and the relationship between the deceased and the heir. However, foreign heirs may be eligible for the same tax-free allowances and deductions as French residents.

Reducing Your Inheritance Tax In France

One way to reduce inheritance tax is to make gifts during your lifetime, as gifts between spouses, partners of a PACS (civil union), and children are tax-free up to a certain amount. Another option is to invest in tax-efficient vehicles, such as PEA (Plan d’Epargne en Actions) or Assurance Vie, which offer tax advantages that can help reduce the tax burden on heirs.

In France, inheritance tax can be a significant burden on heirs, and reducing the tax liability is a key consideration for estate planning. While minimizing inheritance tax in France can be challenging, several strategies and options are available to reduce the tax burden.

How Do I Transfer Ownership Of a French Property?

Transfer Ownership Of a French Property

To transfer ownership of a French property, a preliminary agreement or “compromis de vente” is signed between the buyer and seller, which outlines the terms of the sale, such as the purchasing price and closing date. Secondly, the transfer must be completed by a notary or “notaire,” who verifies the legal ownership of the property, ensures that all taxes and fees are paid, and prepares the final sale documents.

As highlighted above, transferring ownership of a French property is a process that involves several legal steps and requirements.

Once all conditions are met, a final agreement or “acte de vente” is signed by both parties in the presence of the notary, which transfers ownership of the property to the buyer. The buyer typically pays the purchase price at this time, and the notary distributes the funds to any relevant parties.

Finally, the notary registers the sale with the local land registry office, which officially records the transfer of ownership. It’s important to seek the guidance of a qualified notary or legal professional to ensure that the sale is completed properly and in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

What Are The 3 Types Of Joint Property Ownerships In France?

In France, there are three types of joint property ownership: en indivision, en tontine, and copropriété.

En indivision

En indivision is a type of joint ownership in which two or more people jointly possess a piece of property without any formal division of shares. Each owner has the right to use the property and share in the profits and expenses according to their respective percentage of ownership.

En tontine

En tontine is a joint ownership arrangement where two or more individuals jointly own the property. Still, upon the death of one owner, their share automatically transfers to the surviving owner(s). This form of ownership is popular among couples who want to ensure that their partner inherits the property.

En copropriété

En copropriété is a type of joint ownership commonly used in apartment buildings and co-owned residences. Each owner has a specific share of ownership in the property, along with rights and responsibilities related to their unit and the common areas. Owners must work together to manage the property, including maintenance, repairs, and financial matters.


Understanding the different types of joint property ownership and their implications and strategies to minimize inheritance tax can help ensure a smooth and successful ownership experience.

Additionally, navigating the process of transferring ownership requires careful attention to legal and financial details, and it is important to seek professional guidance to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations.

E.A. Gjelten
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