Confusion over notaire fees to settle estate in France

My husband died recently and I am confused following a visit to the notaire to find out the costs of settling the estate. We had a typical French marriage contract and he left everything to me in a will. There are no children, brothers or sisters or surviving parents and the only property we owned, in which I live, was purchased in joint names. When I asked the notaire for an estimate of the costs she said it would depend on the value of the property... This implies I will have to pay, what, I have no idea, for the house I already own and have paid for. Can you explain? L.O.

While there is no inheritance tax in France between spouses, the notaire needs to request payment of costs and fees, similar to stamp duties, for various works concerning the estate.

These include drafting and registering the French probate papers to confirm entitlement (Acte de notoriété), the Inheritance Tax account (déclaration de succession) if applicable, the title transfer deed (Attestation Immobilière/Attestation de propriété), and/or for registering the will (procès-verbal de dépôt du testament).

Additionally, unless you attend the notaire’s office to sign in person (in which case the notaire may need to arrange for a translator to be present, at your cost), there may be fees for preparing a French power of attorney in order for the notaire’s clerk to sign the probate documents on your behalf.

Even for modest value French properties in an estate, notaire fees and duties usually work out at around €2,500 - €3,000.

Fees and duties are set on a national scale but there are regional variations. These include various separate elements and stamp duties: some value based, and some fixed. Some are a national ‘tarif réglementé’ while others are location-based (tarifs non réglementés) such as registration costs, disbursements or duties. Fees are also due for the notaire’s work.

It is tricky to work out the exact amounts and you are right to ask for an estimate.

Question answered by Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt

Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930

If you have a query on this topic send it to