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Living France - - THE ESSENTIALS - MATTHEW CAMERON

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.

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