Reader question: I have inherited my late father’s estate as sole beneficiary, including a French bank account with about €30,000 in it.
He returned to the UK eight years ago and recently died there.
I have dealt with his UK assets using the grant of probate and have sent this to the French bank but they will not send me the funds from his account.
Unfortunately, sole name French bank accounts for a deceased UK resident can be complicated to recover, requiring more than a UK grant of probate.
It is best to write to the bank in French. You can ask a translator or a specialist professional to help.
Commonly, the bank will send a letter outlining the requirements to release funds.
They will usually request the death certificate, any will (with translations), and a livret de famille.
British nationals do not have the latter, so you would instead send certified copies of identification documents for the deceased and any beneficiaries and executors (birth certificates showing parents’ names, marriage certificates, passports).
The bank will request an acte de notoriété from a notaire to show who is entitled to inherit, or a statement from a UK lawyer to confirm the validity of any will, or absence of will, and who inherits, called an acte de dévolution successorale.
For a sum as large as €30,000, I expect they will require a tax certificate from the French non-resident tax office to confirm the payment or exemption of French inheritance tax.
To obtain it, you need to complete a déclaration de succession.
It is worth seeking help from a notaire or French law specialist.
In your case, it should specify that there should be no inheritance tax in France on the French bank account under the UK/France double tax convention.
This can take several months.
Once you have it, send this to the French bank, with signed bank details, for the receipt of funds.
Author: John Kitching, French Law Consultancy. French Law Consultancy provides French legal advice