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How to avoid inheritance disasters in France

Sponsored content: Inheritance tax insight by Daniel Butcher, founder of DTB Wealth Management (DTB)

'British married couples in France must ensure they make the correct legal moves under French law so that in the event of a death the remaining spouse inherits the desired assets' Pic: mapo_japan / Shutterstock

Daniel Butcher, founder of DTB Wealth Management (DTB), explains why if you are British, married, living in France and want to have control over what your partner will inherit, legally it is more important to have a Donation au Dernier Vivant than a will.

“British married couples in France must ensure they make the correct legal moves under French law so that in the event of a death the remaining spouse inherits the desired assets,” says Daniel.

“When British married couples move to France, many do not realise that French law will view the couple’s assets, including property, separately. French couples are systematically married into a communauté, where a communal pot is created that has its own law and protects the married couple’s assets, but this is not the case for UK expat couples. French notaires will apply the séparation de bien regime instead, where everything acquired during a marriage is divided in two.”

“Under French family law the main inheritors are the children and not the remaining spouse,” says Daniel. “The blood line overrides marital affiliation, and this means that the remaining spouse could find themselves sharing property rights with, or having to give half of their savings to, the children. The worst-case scenario would be for re-married couples who are only allowed to leave each another one-quarter of their respective half.”

To avoid any inheritance disasters, British married couples in France must take out a Donation au Dernier Vivant with a notaire to protect the remaining spouse. This will allow an increase or adjustment which meets the couple’s inheritance wishes more closely.

“It is absolutely essential that married couples do a Donation au Dernier Vivant as soon as possible, it is far more beneficial than writing a will.”

“At DTB we are expert in both the UK and French financial systems, not only can we advise our clients on the most advantageous way to set up their Donation au Dernier Vivant, but we can also provide the notaire as part of our service. “Combining this with an Assurance Vie can often bring further financial benefits, too.”

DTB is referenced by both the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and the Autorité des Marchés Financiers in France and therefore is well placed to create the appropriate structures for its clients. As it is also a Conseil en Gestion de Patrimoine (a company qualified in insurance, banking, finance and notarial law), DTB is able to offer expats the best advice, as well as a bilingual service.

Daniel concludes: “We can organise the best inheritance arrangements for married expats. Our initial consultation is free because we are passionate about helping clients to create the best future for themselves in France.”

Tel: 06 72 34 48 50 Email:

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Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
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