Key financial steps to take after the death of family member in France

Unlocking bank accounts, cancelling contracts, we look what you need to do in the months following the death

An elderly woman in her French home looking at a bill or document.
You may receive some financial aid after a close family member’s death
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A reader recently asked what they may need to do in the immediate event of a family member’s death in France. 

We look at the first steps to take – within the first 24 hours, then within the first week – in this article, including how to obtain a death certificate and arrange a funeral in France.

However, there are several other actions that need to be completed in the months that follow a death and we cover these below.

 Read more:  Explainer: burials, cremations and funerals in France

What needs to be done within the first month?

Within the first ten days, you should inform both the relevant government and financial institutions of the death, especially if the person was receiving benefits or regular payments.

This includes the Caf (caisse d'Allocations familiales) and Cpam for their French health insurance. 

You need to inform the local department if they were receiving benefits such as the APA (allocation personnalisée d’autonomie).

If the person was receiving a pension, you must let their pension fund know (both in France or overseas) and if the person was still working, obviously inform their employer. 

You have the right for any remaining funds from the employer (untaken paid leave, thirteenth month, other bonuses, the days worked the month before the death etc) to be paid out to the deceased’s bank account to go towards inheritance. 

This is also the case for any companies or banks that had provided the deceased with a loan, such as a mortgage. 

Banks will block the deceased’s account in most cases until inheritance issues are sorted. However in some cases, such as for joint accounts, they may remain open. 

Read more: What happens to a French bank account after a person’s death?

You have up to a month to inform any parties related to the deceased’s housing situation, such as their landlord, tenants and the syndic if they lived in a communal building. 

Insurance contracts and bills should also be cancelled within this time, or changed to reflect the new situation (for example if they now need to be only in the name of a partner). 

This is also the case for paid subscriptions services such as Amazon, Netflix, La Poste, etc, which should all be cancelled or transferred to a new name and payment method.

Make sure to check if there are any financial aids you can claim, including life insurance or pension payouts or the Capital décès de la Sécurité sociale if the person was working in France at the time of their death. .

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What to do within the first six months/one year

For inheritances of more than €5,000, a notaire is required to execute this. This is also the case if the inheritance includes property or land. 

The deceased’s bank accounts are likely to be blocked until the inheritance is finalised, so although this does not have to be done immediately, the sooner you can do it the better. 

Once this has been finalised, you will need to declare the inheritance to the French tax authorities, which you can read more about here.

You will also need to complete a final income return declaration for the deceased if you were married or in a civil partnership (PACS) with them. Note that if the deceased lived alone, then their heirs are responsible for doing this. 

This declaration should be done by the usual French income tax deadlines, however, note that if they had professional incomes from self-employment these in some cases need to be declared within six months.

Finally, you should think about closing any accounts of the deceased –such as social media profiles or email accounts – that may not be tied to monthly payments but would be better to close.

The Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (Cnil) has a list of useful links and information on how to ask for these accounts to be closed.