Certain French benefits are repayable, partly or completely, from your estate after you die.
To avoid unpleasant surprises for your heirs, it is worth knowing which these are. Currently they are:
Allocation de solidarité aux personnes âgées (Aspa)
A pension top-up benefit for older people with low incomes. You apply to your French pension caisse or, if you have no French pension, to your mairie, which forwards the application to the Saspa service, now run by the MSA agricultural pensions body for the region of Lorraine.
Aide ménagère à domicile
Money towards paying for help with domestic tasks. You apply to your mairie (to its centre communal d’action sociale – CCAS – if there is one) but the funding is from the departmental council. This, and several related forms of council aid such as meals on wheels, comes under a general heading of aide sociale à domicile (ASD).
Aide sociale à l’hébergement (ASH)
Money towards living in a retirement home or with an accueillant familial (a person paid to look after someone at home). You apply to the mairie/ CCAS and it is paid by the departmental council.
Prestation spécifique dépendance (PSD)
A former aid paid by departments, replaced by Allocation personnalisée d’autonomie, which is not repayable.
ASH money is completely repayable from the estate, though heirs do not have to pay extra if there is not enough money to cover it.
ASD and PSD are only repayable where the net estate value is €46,000 or more.
The part of the money paid over €760 is repayable in the limits of the estate. These money limits apply to the main heirs, not recipients of individual named gifts, who are eligible to repayment in proportion to the value of their gift.
Recipients of lifetime gifts may also be eligible if a gift was after the benefit payments began, or in the 10 years before, in proportion to the gift.
Beneficiaries of assurance vie are also eligible, relating to payments made after age 70.
There are different rules for Aspa. In this case, repayment is only due if the net estate is worth €39,000 or more, and the repayment is only from the part exceeding this. The sum repayable cannot be more than €7,354 per single beneficiary per year of payment, or €9,838 per year of payment for beneficiaries who are in a couple (in which case half is assumed to have been received by each).
In the case of the deceased’s spouse or partner, or dependants who lived with them, it is often possible to defer repayment from their inheritance until their own death.
Recipients of individual gifts are not eligible to repay Aspa.
Agricultural holdings are exempt from inclusion in the estate value for calculating the €39,000. However, amounts paid into an assurance vie since the Aspa payments began, or gifts made, can be added on if the sums seem disproportionate and mean Aspa cannot be repaid.
The bodies that made the payments have five years after the death to claim repayment.