Retirement in France
Retirement in France can be idyllic but make sure you plan ahead and take the necessary legal steps to ensure you can relax and enjoy your golden years in France
It often sounds idyllic – warmer climates, cheaper property, great lifestyle… and it can be, but as much as we hate to admit it, we do know that we won’t go on forever.
Taking a few relevant steps early on means you can relax and enjoy your retirement abroad or possibly return home, knowing that, even if something unexpected should happen, you’ve put measures in place that will help you retain some control over your future care and life, as well as protect your loved ones.
Structuring your property purchase
Buying a property in the right way to ensure that your co-owner or loved ones inherit without any hassles has always been a good first step. You may or may not have thought about that before you acquired your property; if not, it’s not too late to explore your options, and possibly address during your lifetime any disadvantageous situations you’ve inadvertently allowed to arise.
Making a will
Making provisions in a will is another way to take care of your nearest and dearest. Recent changes to EU succession regulations, which are in place in Europe including France (though not in the UK, Ireland or Denmark), enable a choice of law to be made in accordance with the law of one’s nationality. France applies these so Brexit should have no impact. If you have not made an express or implied choice of law, the law that applies to your property will be determined according to the place of your habitual residence on death, so it’s more important than ever to take advice and make a suitable will or wills. It may be that a suitable French estate planning option is available, and it may then be better for the UK client not to make a choice of law.
A French holographic (handwritten) will may be the best option for many. It has the advantage of being simple and short; French notaires are familiar and used to dealing with them, and they are safer from a tax perspective. A French will can be registered and easily be located via the Fichier Central des Dispositions des Dernières Volontés (FCDDV), the French wills registry. French notaires would normally apply the French will to the French property but would probably want to see a copy of any UK will. Consult a specialist in French and UK wills to ensure that the wording of both French and English-language wills is correct and absolutely clear as to the law which is to apply, for example, and that they are aware of any tax or legal consequences arising from this choice.
Another option is a formal will drawn up by a notaire and witnessed by two notaires, or one notaire and two witnesses. You can discuss this option directly with your notaire.