Whether you’re plan­ning your move to France, or are al­ready liv­ing there, our panel of pro­fes­sion­als aims to keep you fully in­formed with the best ad­vice for ev­ery even­tu­al­ity

Living France - - Contents -

Our ex­perts an­swer your ques­tions, in­clud­ing draw­ing up a will, buy­ing a hol­i­day home and the pros and cons of gîtes ver­sus B&Bs


QI’m mak­ing a new will and am elect­ing for it to be ad­min­is­tered un­der UK law. I don’t want to make a sep­a­rate French will in case it in­val­i­dates the UK one, but I see the law states you must have the hand­ing over of your French prop­erty dealt with by a no­taire. Will they in­sist on do­ing a French will, and what are the likely charges? SA­MAN­THA SMITH It is cer­tainly sen­si­ble to take ex­tra care when writ­ing wills in or­der to make sure to cover as­sets in dif­fer­ent ju­ris­dic­tions. There may, how­ever, be a very good ar­gu­ment for hav­ing sep­a­rate wills to cover the dif­fer­ent es­tates.

A no­taire in France would not nec­es­sar­ily in­sist on writ­ing a sep­a­rate will for the French prop­erty, although if that is what is pro­posed, it must be drafted with ut­most care, to en­sure that there is no risk of cross-over or un­in­tended re­vo­ca­tion, as is clearly (and rightly so) a ma­jor con­cern here.

A no­taire could, in prac­tice, sug­gest that a French will could not re­voke a pre-ex­ist­ing English will, although English law would not be that le­nient.

While it is pos­si­ble to put the terms of an English will into ef­fect in France, and in­deed only have one will to ap­ply to all of one’s as­sets, this can give rise to its own com­pli­ca­tions.

With the new EU Reg­u­la­tion on in­her­i­tance mat­ters hav­ing come into force on 17 Au­gust 2015, the ap­pli­ca­tion of English law might well be a suit­able op­tion.

Yet un­til they are then tested through the courts (which may take years in the event of a case go­ing all the way to the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice), an el­e­ment of doubt re­mains as to how this will work in prac­tice.

There are, how­ever, other op­tions that may also be suit­able, and it would be wise, there­fore, to as­sess all of these in de­tail with spe­cial­ist so­lic­i­tors with a knowl­edge of both French and English law, to en­sure that a de­tailed anal­y­sis of a per­son’s sit­u­a­tion can be car­ried out be­fore tak­ing any steps, whether in the UK or France. MATTHEW CAMERON


QMy wife and I have young twin boys, and are look­ing for a hol­i­day home in France that will re­quire very lit­tle main­te­nance, prefer­ably in an area with lots of things to do for both us and the chil­dren. We also want to rent it out when we are not there. How easy is this to do, what rental in­come can we re­al­is­ti­cally ex­pect and what ar­eas should we con­sider? JOHN ROBERTS This is quite a com­mon set of prop­erty re­quire­ments for in­ter­na­tional buy­ers. For those who don’t live near their hol­i­day home, a low-main­te­nance prop­erty can prove ideal, as try­ing to man­age re­pairs and deal­ing with any other is­sues that may oc­cur – in ad­di­tion to the rudi­men­tary ba­sics of rent­ing out the prop­erty – can prove ex­tremely time­con­sum­ing and ex­pen­sive to do from abroad, es­pe­cially as many peo­ple of­ten don’t speak French well enough to han­dle it them­selves.

So, where to start look­ing, and what prop­er­ties to con­sider? An old stone cot­tage in a quaint vil­lage, although al­lur­ingly charm­ing, is of­ten not the most ap­pro­pri­ate prop­erty pur­chase un­less you plan on trav­el­ling to France a cou­ple of times a month and have a lot of time on your hands. If you don’t fall into this cat­e­gory, then con­sider the op­tion of go­ing for a new-build prop­erty (which you will of­ten have to buy off-plan) with a man­age­ment com­pany on-site, who will be able to deal not only with the main­te­nance, re­pairs and se­cu­rity but also the rental of your prop­erty.

There are a good num­ber of these places avail­able in France – most of­ten they are found in busy sea­side re­sorts, in large cities or in the Alps, and so draw a great num­ber of tourists, which in turn means that you are

most likely to get the best rental in­come. They of­ten have ad­di­tional fa­cil­i­ties such as swimming pools, a re­cep­tion and sports fa­cil­i­ties, which help boost the at­trac­tive­ness to po­ten­tial hol­i­day­mak­ers look­ing to rent prop­erty in the area.

These types of prop­er­ties are of­ten lease­backs (lim­ited per­sonal use but with a fixed rental pay­ment). How­ever, you can find places that are free of any re­quire­ment to rent your prop­erty out for large chunks of the year. In terms of rental in­come, you can typ­i­cally ex­pect any­thing be­tween 3% and 5% net if you al­low it to be rented for most of the high sea­son. NICK DOWLATSHAHI


QAfter many years of dream­ing about mak­ing the move to France, I’ve fi­nally made a de­ci­sion! I’ve put in an of­fer on a large prop­erty, but need ad­vice on whether to run it as gîtes or as a B&B. What are the main dif­fer­ences in lifestyle?


AFirstly, on a per­sonal level, you will need to be friendly, tol­er­ant, em­pa­thetic and ded­i­cated to good ser­vice for both lifestyle op­tions.

If you run gîtes, then reg­u­lar prac­ti­cal chores in­clude ser­vic­ing and main­tain­ing the prop­er­ties, re­spond­ing to emer­gen­cies and work­ing in­ten­sively on change-over days to get the ac­com­mo­da­tion ready. Gen­er­ally this hap­pens once a week.

Reg­u­lar host­ing chores in­clude wel­com­ing guests on ar­rival, show­ing them their ac­com­mo­da­tion, ex­plain­ing how ev­ery­thing works, and be­ing on call to deal with queries and emer­gen­cies.

If you have sev­eral gîtes, you might bring peo­ple to­gether for games or of­fer a weekly evening meal or bar­be­cue. Guests can ask ques­tions about the prop­erty and the area all in one go. You can also de­cide on a bal­ance be­tween pri­vacy and avail­abil­ity, so you could have ei­ther an ‘open door’ pol­icy for guests to come and ask for what they need at any time, or spec­i­fied hours when you are ‘in’ and avail­able to them.

Time out is good be­cause if you get busy and stressed, you can meet friends and ‘off­load’. It’s never ap­pro­pri­ate to bur­den guests with your prob­lems or in­volve them in lo­cal pol­i­tics!

A B&B is more ‘hands on’ than gîtes, as you have strangers in your house. Depend­ing on your lo­ca­tion, your sea­son may be longer.

Prac­ti­cal du­ties in­clude cook­ing and serv­ing a good break­fast, clear­ing away, clean­ing and mak­ing up rooms daily. The av­er­age stay may be shorter than at a gîte, so there tends to be ex­tra clean­ing and check­ing in and out.

If you de­cide to of­fer the true ta­ble d’hôte ex­pe­ri­ence, with a home-cooked evening meal, this de­mands more prepa­ra­tion and hos­pi­tal­ity, so it’s es­sen­tial to be swan-like – serene on the sur­face while pad­dling like mad un­der­wa­ter.

Again, there are choices and vari­ables. You can take time out in the mid­dle of the day, have your own quar­ters sep­a­rate from guest rooms, de­cide how much dis­tance you want to main­tain and judge how much pri­vacy your visi­tors pre­fer. GLY­NIS SHAW DO YOU HAVE A QUES­TION TO PUT TO OUR PANEL OF EX­PERTS? Email us at ed­i­to­rial@liv­

This ar­ti­cle is for gen­eral in­for­ma­tion pur­poses only and does not con­sti­tute le­gal or other pro­fes­sional ad­vice. We would ad­vise you to seek pro­fes­sional ad­vice be­fore act­ing on it.

For those who don’t live near their hol­i­day home, a low-main­te­nance prop­erty can prove ideal

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