International buyers should be aware that there are a number of legal requirements that may affect the purchase of their French property: the number of people wishing to buy a property together, their marital status, and French inheritance laws. The latter tends to favour children over partners.
It is important for international buyers, and in particular those from the UK, to be aware that there are two types of marital status in France:
Unless specific steps are taken before purchasing, British married couples buying property in France will be deemed to be in the “séparation de biens” status. There are possible advantages to adopting the “communauté de biens” status for inheritance reasons.
To learn more about the full implications of these marital schemes, please seek advice from your notary or a specialised lawyer.
When you purchase a property in France, French inheritance laws apply to that property. These laws, which are very different from the Separate Estates laws in most Anglo-Saxon countries, can have an impact on the use of the property in the event of a spouse-owner's death. Unless specified beforehand, a surviving spouse/partner residing in France will not automatically become the legal beneficiary of the property prior to any children's rights. To counter these effects, specialised lawyers could advise to set up an SCI or change one's marital status and have it validated in France only for French assets. It is also possible to draw up a personal will. This is an important and complex issue.
For more detailed information on the implications of marital status and inheritance laws, seek advice from your notary or a specialised lawyer.