Make life easier for your heirs

28.12.17

Please note that this article is over six months old. While Blevins Franks takes care to make sure that information is accurate on the date of publication, some content may change over time. You should not rely on the accuracy of legislation and tax information in this article; take professional advice for your circumstances.

How will your heirs cope if you die while living in France? Take steps now to protect them from complex estate issues and unnecessary succession tax.

Moving abroad is a life changing experience, and there are so many benefits to spending your retirement years in France, but what happens if death intervenes?

It would be a difficult time for your family wherever you live, and unfortunately they would have to navigate the various estate issues at a time when perhaps they feel least equipped to deal with it. Living in France, or having assets here, will make it even more complicated and stressful. They will have to work out the complexities of a foreign legal and tax regime and overcome the language barrier.

Both French succession tax and succession law work very differently to the UK. Succession tax can be expensive in France. How much your heirs will have to pay depends on the degree of relationship to you – it can be as high as 60% for distant and non-relatives.

France imposes forced heirship, which may prevent you dividing your estate as you wish. You can use the EU succession regulation ‘Brussels IV’ to opt for the succession law of your country of nationality to apply, but must state this in your will. However, it is not that straightforward, and taking this option may have unexpected consequences for your family.

None of us like to think about the day we will shuffle off this mortal coil, or how our loved ones will cope after we have gone, but we do need to do whatever we can now to make life easier for them. And there are many steps you can put in place to take the headache out of the inheritance process and also potentially protect them from losing too much of their inheritance to the tax authorities.

With many legal and cross-border complexities, this is not an area for do-it-yourself planning. You don’t know what you don’t know, and need to make sure you have considered all the succession issues your heirs could face.

So who do you turn to help you prepare or manage the process?

Blevins Franks has decades of experience successfully advising British expatriates in France on their estate planning.

We have an in-depth understanding of the French tax regime (and how it interacts with UK taxation) and use compliant arrangements to ensure your affairs are structured in a tax-efficient manner and to meet your personal objectives.

While we are not legal experts, we have close relationships with English speaking advisers in France. Working together, we can guide you through the various issues and how best to structure your will and estate to achieve your wishes for your heirs.

We can also help you set up your finances to avoid many of the administrative and tax complications, to make the inheritance process as straightforward as possible.

We would be very happy to have an initial discussion about your estate plan and wishes for your heirs, so we can explain how we may be able to help you.

We have also produced a useful 11-page “Blevins Franks Guide to Estate Planning in France”.

For a copy of our guide, or if you have any questions or want to arrange a consultation, please contact us on:

0800 668 1381 Freephone UK
0 805 112 163 Freephone France
[email protected]

The tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.

Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; individuals should seek personalised advice.

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