Rights of ‘former’ UK stepchildren in France

I am a Briton in France with a French wife. I have stepchildren in the UK from a previous relationship. Do they have a claim on my estate?

12 November 2017
By Connexion journalist

Your former stepchildren have no claim. French law and inheritance tax apply different rights, allowances and rates according to relationship. Natural or adopted children have an obligatory “reserved share” and if there is any share of the estate left over, it could be left to a stepchild / children by a will but a stepchild has no legal right to this.

If you have no natural or adopted children, in the absence of a will, your wife will inherit between half and the whole of your estate, depending on whether you die before either or both of your parents. With a surviving parent or parents, your wife will inherit all your estate if you make a simple French handwritten will naming her as sole beneficiary.

Natural/adopted children have an inheritance tax free allowance of €100,000 and, after that is used up, pay tax of from 5% to 45% depending on value. There is no tax payable between spouses.

Outside of the reserved share, you can make a will leaving the rest to a stepchild but the allowance is just €1,594 then tax is applied at 60%. The EU inheritance regulation means non-French nationals with assets in France can elect the law of their nationality, avoiding forced heirship, but French inheritance tax still applies.

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2017 Inheritance Law guide (PDF version) - For expats or second home owners - 48 pages
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