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Does Brexit have implications for a will involving my French home?

Since Brexit second-home owners should be wary of possible pitfalls in managing their wills

If your pre-Brexit UK will is valid and does not exclude France, then it will still be valid in France. Pic: fizkes / Shutterstock

Reader question: My English will, made pre-Brexit, leaves my second home in France to my brother. Has Brexit changed anything? 

While Brexit has seen numerous costs, changes and complications for many British residents regarding France, issues surrounding UK wills are not, as a general rule, among them.

If your pre-Brexit UK will is valid and does not exclude France, then it will still be valid in France.

However, watch out for the frequent problems in UK wills surrounding trusts, trustees and discretionary trusts.

You should also be aware of the inheritance tax consequences of leaving French property to a sibling, which, while better than leaving it to a stranger, are not negligible.

There is a tax-free allowance of €15,932.

Above this, the next €24,430 is taxed at 35%, while any excess is taxed at 45%. Penalties and interest apply if the tax is not settled within 12 months of the date of death (for a non-resident deceased).

However, since Brexit, another monster has reared its head from the depths of the French legal quagmire, namely the French laws introduced last November, which affect a French-resident deceased or EU-resident children of a UK-resident deceased.

If your will makes an election of English law and disinherits a child, then the notaire invites the disinherited child to claim their inheritance.

In your situation, you are UK-resident with a French holiday home, so these rules only affect you if you have a child who is resident in the EU.

It is expected that this law will at some point be overturned, as it is contrary to EU law. Until then, it presents a risk.

If in doubt, always seek advice from an expert.

Related articles:

Extra step in French property sales for UK, US, Australian residents

Brexit updates: Ehics, EU citizenship ruling, reaction to Brexit study

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