13 things you can do through a French notaire apart from buy a house

A notaire can help with much more than property purchases in France - some services are free

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France has around 17,000 notaires who, as well as dealing with property transactions – they also sell property (see immonot.com) – offer a range of other services and advice.

Some families use the same notaire for everything, including inheritance, marriage contracts, business set-up, property sales/purchases and gifting property.

As public servants, most of their fees are fixed but some services are free, especially for long-standing clients. Here are more key services they can help with.

1. Draw up marriage or Pacs contracts

Notaires can draw up marriage and pacte civil de solidarité (Pacs) contracts, which are common in France, and advise couples what type of clauses to insert according to their circumstances and wishes.

They advise how to draw up contracts relating to how property will be shared during the marriage, and how it would be divided in the case of divorce or the dissolution of a Pacs.

It is obligatory to use a notaire to draw up a marriage contract. Notaires can also register Pacs contracts.

Read more: Wills, assets: UK couples and France’s three main marriage regime

2. Give family legal advice

Notaires are bound by professional confidentiality so can be trusted to give legal advice about delicate family matters.

3. Draw up paternity papers

A notaire can draw up papers establishing a man’s paternity of a non-related child he is parenting if the child has not been legally acknowledged by their biological father.

Establishing a lien de filiation by formally ‘recognising’ a child gives both parties legal rights and responsibilities.

4. Offer business support

When setting up a business, notaires can advise on which kind of legal structure is best and draw up the correct paperwork.

They can help with drafting the statutes.

5. Give merger and takeover advice

In the case of a business merger or takeover, a notaire can offer legal advice and draw up the most appropriate contracts for it.

6. Make a will

Notaires can advise which type of will to choose and help to draft it.

In some instances, a will might not be needed at all, in which case they will be able to tell you.

Sometimes, when a simple will is drawn up during a property transaction, this might even be a free service.

Conversely, if a person who would normally inherit part of an estate wishes to renounce their inheritance rights in favour of a third party, a notaire can organise this too.

Read more: What happens to my French family home if I do not make a will?

7. Issue an acte de notoriété

After a death, the notaire issues an acte de notoriété as proof that a person is an inheritor.

This document allows the holder to access the deceased’s bank account, change the ownership of their car, etc.

The document costs €69.23 including tax.

Read more: How do I recover funds from my late father’s French bank account?

8. Help untangle inheritance issues

In the case of several people inheriting shares in the same property, a notaire can sort out exactly who owns what.

This can be done with the agreement of all parties or legally imposed if agreement is not reached.

9. Protect against legal clauses

Notaires must be impartial and are legally required to prevent illegal clauses being added to documents such as marriage contracts and wills.

10. Verify someone’s ID and capacity

Notaires check the identity and civil capacity of everyone who signs a legal document in their office.

11. Give free consultations

Notaires offer free and anonymous consultations via the Conseil Départemental de l’Accès du Droit (CDAD) in each department (CDAD01 would be Ain, for example).

Look on your department’s CDAD website for permanences gratuites to make an appointment.

12. Provide a copy of a missing document

Notaires maintain archives of all the documents officially signed before them, including deeds of property ownership, wills, gifts and acknowledgements of debts.

This storage of original documents is free.

It means that if new copies are ever needed, they can be obtained from the notaire (for a fee of €6 to €30).

13. Arrange a proxy

If you cannot get to their office to sign something, a notaire can draw up a procuration à distance so a third party (often a notaire employee) can sign as a proxy.

They can also offer remote electronic signatures.

Read more: Can a proxy sign acte de vente for French property purchase for me?

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