A British lasting power of attorney is a process whereby you name someone to make decisions for you in the future if you become unable to do so.
It involves either or both finances and property or health and welfare.
The equivalent in France is the mandat de protection future.
However there are also two simple procedures related to bank accounts or healthcare – procuration and naming a personne de confiance, which you can also make use of.
A person can sign a form for their bank designating someone who can also manage their account – a procuration.
Similarly, anyone going into hospital can write a letter to the hospital designating a personne de confiance, who can help them with formalities and who will be consulted if they cannot express their wishes.
This can also be done in other contexts, such as a letter to a person’s GP.
The mandat de protection future is more wide-ranging and allows people to plan ahead avoiding the need for a judge to rule on tutelle or curatelle.
Tutelle and curatelle are similar to the mandat but are imposed should a person become incapable of taking responsibility for themselves.
What is the mandat de protection future?
The mandat de protection future is a contract designating one or more people who you wish to take responsibility for looking after you and/or all or part of your property, which comes into effect if your health declines to the extent that you need their help.
The designated mandataires apply to a tribunal d’instance court, with a medical certificate, to activate it if and when necessary.
The contract states the powers conferred and can be drawn up with or without the help of a notaire.
The former version confers greater legal powers, such as the ability to sell a home. English-speaking notaires can be identified via notaires.fr.
Setting up a notarised mandat usually requires the presence of everyone concerned, that is to say the elderly/incapacitated person and their intended mandataires (the people who will have power of attorney).
Having said that, some notaires allow mandataires who live in the UK to accept their duties without coming to France, with assistance from a UK solicitor.
It would be possible, if there are significant assets both in the UK and France, to consider arranging both UK and French mechanisms as, while in principle both the UK and France recognise each other’s arrangements, the two are most effective on their respective sides of the channel and there can be complications in making use of a British power of attorney in France.
A mandat has to be set up while the person is in reasonable health and able to make their own decisions, as opposed to a relatively new procedure, habilitation familiale, which was added to the traditional options.
This is intended to be fairly simple to set up and once in place does not require any ongoing input from a judge (unlike curatelle and tutelle).
This can only be used by one or more close family members (ascendant or descendant) or a spouse or civil partner and can either be set up conferring specific powers (not including making gifts and bequests) or general, wide-ranging ones.
It can allow for the sale of property and access to bank accounts. It is activated on request, backed by doctor’s advice and must be approved by a juge des tutelles (judge) at the tribunal d’instance once he or she has checked there are no objections from other family members.
It lasts up to 10 years but a judge can end it at any point in the case of difficulties.