Succession Law, Brussels IV, Succession Tax And Your Heirs

05.11.14

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.

French succession law imposes strict restrictions on how residents can divide up their estate. A new EU Directive will allow expatriates to distribute their assets in accordance with the law of their nationality.


One of the most worrying issues facing UK nationals living in France is the outdated Napoleonic code that imposes strict restrictions on how residents can divide up their estate. Children are “protected” heirs and may inherit up to 75% of your estate – spouses are not protected in presence of children.

French law is not changing, but new European Certificate of Succession regulations will give foreigners the right to opt for the succession law of their country of nationality to apply on their death. You need to make this election before death, otherwise, if you are habitually resident in France, French succession law applies by default.

Known as “Brussels IV”, the regulation takes effect from 17th August 2015. Note that it does not cover taxation – you cannot choose UK inheritance tax instead of French succession tax.

Brussels IV is undoubtedly welcome news for UK nationals in France.  However, many do not realise that the taxman will be the major beneficiary in many cases.  When leaving assets to siblings, nephews/nieces etc. and non-relatives (including step-children), tax rates range from 35% to 60% and allowances are very low.

You must therefore carefully consider the tax position when deciding which succession law applies.  Please CLICK HERE to contact us to make an appointment with your Blevins Franks Partner to establish how Brussels IV will work; the impact on succession tax, and the solutions to lower the tax liability for your heirs.

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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