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Cross-border inheritance in France: which law should be applicable?

Bilingual lawyer Benjamin Kergueno, who operates offices in the heart of Nice as well as near the British Museum in London, shares his advice about cross-border inheritance. 

"Each year, half a million families are involved in cross-border successions. In cases where someone has suffered a loss or may intend to disinherit someone of their family, inheritance issues are always sensitive.

EU legislation facilitates succession planning: it offers EU citizens the right to prepare a Will of their choice and opt for their inheritance process to be subject to their national law or the law of their country of residence.

This option will apply to the totality of their estate even if they live in another EU country and have assets in different countries. In other cases, the law of the EU country where they last lived should be applied.

For example, the succession of a Frenchwoman living in Spain will be governed by the Spanish law for all her properties, wherever it is, if she has not designated the French law to govern her succession. Moreover, being an heir, you can prove your rights and powers with the European Certificate of Succession anywhere in the EU.

In the meantime, such rules don’t apply in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark. This means that people living in any of these three countries are not subject to the EU rules, but they can benefit from them.

I have worked extensively with individuals and families who need legal advice with inheritance abroad. You may contact me: for professional legal advice on the latest information about foreign inheritance laws, to secure your inheritance, and to prevent possible penalties, costly tax payments and further professional fees.

My first advice is free of charge and I remain at your disposition to offer you high-quality legal advice on many cross-border legal matters including drafting your foreign will or finding out how your family and other people close to you can manage your inheritance if more than one EU country is involved."


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