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Brussels hope for elderly expats

Connexion readers express anger at French inheritance laws

1 November 2010

FRANCE'S strict rules on inheritance have prompted hundreds of Connexion readers to write to the European Union expressing their anger and calling for an urgent reform.

The Connexion has sent a dossier of almost 200 reader complaints to the European Commission as part of the latter’s investigation into cross-border inheritance issues.

Brussels is looking at the case for applying consistent inheritance tax rules across all member states.

It is concerned that the current set-up prevents the free movement of EU citizens between countries.

Unlike in the UK, the French system sets a strict legal quota on who inherits.

A common complaint is that France does not recognise stepchildren, who are taxed as if they are strangers – at 60 per cent – if they are left legacies from a will.

An EC spokeswoman said: "If, on the basis of this research, the problems warrant action, the Commission will launch an initiative to address the problems."

Its work is being watched closely by MEPs. Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP for south-east England, said: "We should be allowed to bequeath as we please, however eccentrically, provided we are of sound mind."

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