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Reader question: Is my non-French Will valid in France?

We don't want to put a downer on anyone's new life in France, but it's time to talk about death.

Reader question: Is my non-French Will valid in France?
Photo: Rosmarie Voegtli | CC BY 2.0

Moving to France and buying property here involves a lot of paperwork, but one piece of paper that is often forgotten in a Will.

So do you need to make a whole new Will when either moving to France or buying property here, or is your old Will valid?

The short answer is that your previous Will can remain valid – but under some conditions.

Long answer: If you make it clear that this is what you want, your non-French Will can apply over your estate, otherwise French inheritance law will take precedence over – at least – any French assets you may hold.

READ ALSO Wills, estates and notaires – what you need to know about inheritance laws in France

All non-French residents in France can opt for the law of the country of their nationality to apply to their estate. This law still applies to Britons, despite Brexit, so it may not be necessary to make an entire new Will.

But this decision has to be clearly expressed, otherwise – under the same EU regulation that allows you to choose under which law your estate shall be administered – the law of the country of the deceased’s last residence will apply to the entire estate.

At a minimum you will need to add a codicil to your Will, stating that you want the law of your home country, not French law, to apply.

Alternatively, a testament olographe stating that you want the Will of your nationality to apply, should be sufficient – though this is best done with the help of a notaire.

If you don’t live in France but do have property here then your home country’s Will should apply, but for the avoidance of doubt it is better to add that Codicil clearly statting that you do not want French law to apply to your French assets.

If you do decide to make a new Will in France, do seek professional advice from a notaire, since it’s not as simple as just leaving all your worldly possessions to whoever you like. French inheritance rules may be very different to the ones you are used to and include, for example, a ban on disinheriting your children.

You can make two Wills – one for your assets in your home country and one for your assets in France – but this should not be done without professional advice to ensure that the two Wills are not in conflict with each other.

Be aware, too, that under French law there are certain rules on who can inherit what. So, if you make a French Will for your French assets, they will have to comply with these rules.

For more answers to frequently asked questions about Wills and inheritance in France click here

The Notaires de France website also offers useful advice in English, while a list of English-speaking notaires in France is available here.

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Filing taxes and finding cheap fuel: 6 essential articles for life in France

From the best websites to know for working in France and the places you should avoid for filling up your car, to the best regional cuisine in the North and South of France and planning your tax dates, here are the six essential articles you need to know for life in France.

Filing taxes and finding cheap fuel: 6 essential articles for life in France

The French government has loads of different websites for different purposes, and it can be hard to know which are worth keeping track of…and which are actually possible to navigate as an English-speaker.

If you are planning to work in France (or hire someone in France), then you’ll want to keep track of the most useful websites for the various administrative hurdles that will come up. 

We made a list of the best, and easiest to navigate, French government websites that will answer all of your questions from visas to employment contracts. On that list, you’ll find a new website that the French government just updated that consolidates a lot of the different things you used to have to go to several separate websites to find. 

Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Spring has sprung, and therefore so has tax season!

Taxes can also be an area that is confusing for foreigners living in France. Filling out the forms in French is a bit daunting, and you might be wondering what applies to you, specifically as a foreigner in France. Knowing the deadlines for filing your taxes is an important part of living in France.

As for what is coming up for May and June, you’ll want to mark your calendars for the dates for declaring your revenue. We made an updated list for you.

Income tax declaration in France: The key dates you need to know

After moving to France, many foreigners find it difficult to get French people to just speak to them in French without reverting to English. It is easy to feel stuck, wondering how and where you can practice your French skills.

If you are looking to gain confidence in your listening skills – to avoid those blank-face moments – we asked other readers for their recommendations.

Here is what they recommended for filling your free time with French TV shows, podcasts, and radio channels.

The French TV series, radio shows and podcasts that will boost your language skills

Not a French resident yet, but still looking into buying a car in France? In reality, depending on where you are going, you might not need to have a vehicle.

Still, having a car is an essential for many people living in France, particularly those living out in the countryside. You might be thinking it would be easier to just buy a car in l’Hexagon rather than bringing one here – and you might be right. Doing the process in France will save you the headache of having to get the French equivalents for all the necessary paperwork.

Here are the essential things to know about buying a car in France:

Reader question: Can I buy a car in France if I’m not a resident?

And if you do end up buying that car, you’ll probably be wondering where to find the most affordable fuel in France.

With inflation on the rise, fuel is becoming more expensive throughout France, in some places more than others (you might want to avoid filling up in the Paris region).

There are still some places in the country with relatively affordable fuel, however, and we have made a guide for where to go to avoid breaking the bank at the fuel pump.

Which parts of France have the cheapest fuel prices?

Ah, French cuisine. People might think you can never go wrong with French food, but there are definitely some choices worth prioritising higher than others.

You are probably starting to think about your summer travel plans. If you are looking to eat well while jetting across France, without having to put too much thought into food-planning, then check out our regional guides!

We have come up with a few food and drink guides for you, complete with specific regional recommendations. Here is what to eat and drink in the North and South of France:

French regional cuisine: What to eat and drink in northern France