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AThe first point to note is that when you married, your existing wills may well have been revoked automatically: in some countries, including England and Wales, a will is immediately revoked on marriage unless it is carefully drafted with an express provision that it should not be revoked. In the circumstances described, I anticipate this is not the case, so you could both be without a will. Nevertheless, if a tontine clause was inserted in the purchase deed then irrespective of the terms of any will, the survivor of you two would most probably inherit the French house absolutely. What happens at the time of the second death then depends on your wills.
The EU Succession Regulation came into force in 2015, substantially amending how inheritance rules can apply in crossborder successions. It is important to note that it should remain in force in exactly the same format as now, in relation to UK nationals, following the UK’s departure from the EU.
It will be possible for the survivor of you two to leave everything to the children as intended. That can be completed under the terms of a will – whether French or English, or even one of each. There is a long discussion among international probate and inheritance lawyers as to whether one will or two is preferable. In practice there are strong arguments either way. However, whichever option is taken, where assets are held in different jurisdictions it is important to seek the assistance of solicitors with suitable crossborder experience. While preparing just an English will to cover all assets might well work, it may be the case that this would result in substantial difficulty in the postdeath administration.
If it is deemed preferable for you both to prepare two wills, then these should be drafted carefully to ensure that one does not accidentally revoke the other, and that they do not work to cover the same assets.
In addition, it is also to be noted that the EU Succession Regulation does not affect the position on inheritance tax, and as such consideration should generally be given to this as well.
In this case, therefore, you should probably be looking to ensure you both have a will or two wills in place to cover all of your assets, and to ensure that your wishes as to the devolution of your estates following your deaths will be respected.
It is very important for people to ensure that their wills are suitably in place. It is invariably preferable to have these drafted properly by solicitors, in particular where there are assets in other countries, in which case solicitors with suitable crossborder inheritance advice knowledge should be consulted.