Administration of a French Estate

In France, the Administration of your French Estate must be handled by a Notaire.

  • First of all the Notaire will draw up a list of the deceased’s heirs and beneficiaries who stand to inherit and the proportion of the estate that they are entitled to inherit. The Notaire will review all the documents that you will provide him/her and additional ones, and relate all these details in an offical deed called the “Notoriété”.
    Then, the Notaire will prepare the inheritance tax return (Déclaration de succession) including a full statement of the deceased’s assets and liabilities in which he/she will list the total value, again, thanks to the documents provided by the family. This will then be served to the tax authority, together with the payment of the taxes due.
  • If the deceased owned lands or buildings, the Notaire must draw up a deed for the transfer of the ownership (attestation de propeiété immobilière) of his/her land/buildings to the heirs and s/he has to publish it on the French Land Registry.
  • Finally, the Notaire will proceed to the legal division of the assets (partage) amongst the heirs, if necessary.  If the heirs decide to not formally divide up the assets amongst themselves, they will remain joint owners (en indivision).

The timescale for winding up a French estate will depend on the particularities of the estate, although 6 months is a general guide when the deceased dies in France and 1 year if he/she dies abroad.


In France, it is the deceased’s heirs and beneficiaries who are liable to pay inheritance tax.

As regards the fees incurred in France, they are of three kinds:

  1. French inheritance tax payable by each heir/beneficiary (from 5 to 60%, after application of the relevant tax-free allowance, depending on the person’s relationship to the deceased and the value of the assets in question),
  2. Disbursements (e.g. the cost of certain obligatory documents and formalities),
  3. Notaire’s fees (calculated in accordance with a tariff set by the French State).

Some documents will be needed by the Notaire to administer a French estate. As examples and depending on the assets of the estate and if there is a Will or not, those documents are:

  • The original of the death certificate (with a translation by a sworn translator)
  • Wills and Trusts (with translations by a sworn translator)
  • Grant of Probate / Letters of administration (with translations by a sworn translator)
  • Passport of each beneficiary
  • Birth / Marriage / Divorce / Civil partnership Certificates may be necessary
  • Property Title deeds (if you do not have them, the Notaire can request copies from the Land Registry)
  • Bank statements (current accounts, savings accounts etc.)
  • Documents relating to liabilities

If you need to administer an estate or a Will, or if you would like more information about the administration of an estate or a Will, we invite you to contact us at: Our team of bilingual specialist lawyers assist our international clients in their personal and professional matters including the administration of cross-border estates and Wills.