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Viewing posts categorised under: Succession Planning

The when I die folder

By Antony Poole - Topics: Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning, Wills
This article is published on: 7th July 2020

07.07.20

Discussing how to deal with “life after death” with loved ones is not an easy topic for most families, much less planning for it. While it may sound morbid, creating a “When I Die” folder will save loved ones time and money because nothing is more time consuming and agonizing than sorting through a month’s worth of mail, rifling through cabinets to locate a last will and testament and trying to sort out all the different policies that are accumulated through the years.

While you may be thinking, I don’t have so much that I require a folder. Actually, the opposite is true. A “When I Die” folder is about much more than you’re your assets; it should include debts, funeral and final disposition arrangements, passwords, and letters to loved ones, among other things. The difference between having your files organized or not is about more than just stress; leave behind a mess and it can delay inheritors’ access to funds and cause potentially high legal fees.

The ”When I die” folder can be a physical or digital folder that an individual or family keeps that contains important information that will be needed in the event that someone dies or becomes incapacitated. It serves an important, but often overlooked role in estate planning.

A good start to your folder can be found BELOW to enable you to start one for yourself or for a family member, please feel free to adapt it.

CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY AND ORGANISE YOUR ‘FOLDER’

UK share portfolio

Should you require any help with estate planning please feel free to contact me:

Inheritance Planning & French Residency

By Occitanie - Topics: France, Inheritance Tax, Moving to France, Succession Planning, Tax, Wills
This article is published on: 9th June 2020

09.06.20

Welcome to ‘Spectrum in Occitanie, Finance in Focus’.

The Covid-19 pandemic still dominates the news and will inevitably remain at the forefront of our thoughts for some time. Last month we focused on the financial consequences of this virus and we may well return to this subject in future editions. However, in this issue we are going to focus on the very important, and often neglected, subject of Wills and Inheritance Planning. Succession laws in France differ significantly from those in the UK and careful planning is required to mitigate French inheritance tax.

As a reminder, we are Sue Regan, Rob Hesketh, Derek Winsland and Philip Oxley. Together we form Spectrum’s team in the Occitanie.

As touched on in last month’s Newsletter, now is probably a good time to revisit the subject of inheritance planning – an integral part of any financial planning review.

Despite the importance of making sure one’s affairs are in order for the inevitability of our demise, very few people actively seek advice in this area and, as a result, are unaware of the potential difficulties ahead for their families and heirs, not to mention potential tax bills which can be quite substantial for certain classes of beneficiary. With some sensible planning you could save your intended beneficiaries a great deal of stress and dramatically reduce their inheritance tax bill.

The basic rule is, if you are resident in France, you are considered also to be domiciled in France for inheritance purposes and your worldwide estate becomes taxable in France, where the tax rates depend upon the relationship to your beneficiaries.

Fortunately, there is no inheritance tax between spouses and the allowance between a parent and a child is reasonably generous, currently €100,000 per child, per parent. For anything left to other beneficiaries, the allowances are considerably less. In particular, for step-children and other non-related beneficiaries, the allowance is only €1,594 and the tax rate on anything above that is an eye-watering 60%!

There are strict rules on succession and children are considered to be ‘protected heirs’ and so are entitled to inherit a proportion of each of their parent’s estates. For example, if you have one child, the proportion is 50% of the deceased parent’s estate; two children, one-third each; and if you have three or more children, then three-quarters of your estate must be divided equally between them.

You are free to pass on the rest of your estate (the disposable part) to whoever you wish through a French will and, in the absence of making a will, if you have a surviving spouse, he/she would be entitled to 25% of your estate.

You may also be considered domiciled in your ‘home country’ and if so, this could cause some confusion, since your home country may also have the right to charge succession taxes on your death. However, France has a number of Double Taxation Treaties (DTT) with other countries covering inheritance. In such a case, the DTT will set out the rules that apply (basically, ‘which’ country has the right to tax ‘what’ assets).

For example, the 1963 DTT between France and the UK specifies that the deceased’s total estate will be devolved and taxed in accordance with the person’s place of residence at the time of death, with the exception of any property assets that are sited in the other country.

moving-to-france

Therefore, for a UK national who is resident in France, who has retained a property in the UK (and does not own any other property outside of France), the situation would be that:

  • any French property, plus his/her total financial assets, would be taxed in accordance with French law; and
  • the UK property would be taxed in accordance with UK law, although in theory, the French notaire can take this asset into account when considering the fair distribution of all other assets to any ‘protected heirs’ ie. children

If a DTT covering inheritance does not exist between France and the other country, with which the French resident person has an interest, this could result in double taxation, if the ‘home’ country also has the right to tax the person’s estate. Hence, when people become French resident, there are usually two issues:

  • how to protect the survivor; and
  • how to mitigate the potential French inheritance taxes for other beneficiaries

Protecting the survivor
There are various ways in which you can protect your spouse:

European Succession Regulation No. 650/2012
Many of you will no doubt have heard about the EU Succession Regulations that came into effect in 2015 whereby the default situation is that it is the law of your place of habitual residence that applies to your estate. However, you can elect for the inheritance law of your country of nationality to apply to your estate by specifying this in a French will. This is effectively one way of getting around the issue of ‘protected heirs’ for some expats living in France.

Adopting a ‘community pot’ marriage regime or family pact
There are other tried and tested French structures available to fully protect the rights of a spouse, that don’t rely on the notaire having an understanding of the succession laws of other countries.

You could choose to have the marriage regime of ‘communauté universelle avec une clause d’attribution intégrale au conjoint survivant’. Under this marriage regime, all assets are owned within a ‘community pot’ and on the death of the first person, those community assets are transferred to the survivor without any attribution of half of the assets to the deceased’s estate.

However, adopting a ‘community pot’ marriage regime would not be suitable for families with step-children. This sort of arrangement could be subject to a legal challenge by the survivor’s step-children as they could miss out on their inheritance due to the fact that there is no blood relationship with the step-parent.

In this situation, a family pact (pacte de famille) could be the solution, whereby families agree in advance who will inherit and when. Of course, this would only really work where there is an amicable relationship between parents and children, as the children are effectively waiving all or some of their right to inherit.

There are a number of other ways in which you can arrange your affairs to protect the survivor, depending on your individual circumstances, and we would always recommend that you discuss succession planning in detail with a notaire experienced in these matters.

Mitigation of inheritance tax
On whichever planning you decide, it is important to remember that the French inheritance tax rules will still apply. So, even though you have the freedom to decide who inherits your estate, this will not reduce the potential inheritance tax liability on your beneficiaries, which, as mentioned above, could potentially be very high for a step-child. Hence, there will still be a need to shelter financial assets from French inheritance taxes.

By far and away the most popular vehicle in France for sheltering your hard-earned savings from inheritance tax is the Assurance Vie. The assurance vie is considered to be outside of your estate for tax purposes and comes with its own inheritance allowances, in addition to the standard aIllowance for other assets. If you invest in an assurance vie before the age of 70 you can name as many beneficiaires as you like, regardless of whether they are family or not, and each beneficiary can inherit up to €152,500, tax-free. The rate of tax on the next €700,000 is limited to 20% – potentially making a huge saving for remoter relatives or step-children.

Let’s look at a simple example of the inheritance tax position of a married couple with two children, comparing the IHT position with and without investing in assurance vie:

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD PDF

It is clear to see from this example that by wrapping their medium to long term savings in an assurance vie, this couple have saved each child €30,500 in IHT.

Of course, the more beneficiaries nominated, for example grandchildren, siblings, etc, the greater the IHT saving overall. Beneficiaries can be changed or added to the assurance vie at any time. Remember, also, that beneficiary nominations are not restricted to family members, so, whoever you nominate gets the same allowance.

The inheritance allowance on premiums paid to assurance vie after age 70 are less attractive at €30,500 of the premium (capital investment) plus the growth on the capital shared between all named beneficiaries, and the remaining capital invested is taxed in accordance with the standard IHT bands.

Nevertheless, an assurance vie is still a worthwhile investment after the age of 70 as, in addition to the inheritance tax benefits, assurance vie offers personal tax efficiencies to the investor such as gross roll-up of income and gains whilst funds remain in the policy and an annual income tax allowance of €4,600, or €9,200 for a couple, after 8 years.

So, in order to ensure that your inheritance wishes are carried out, some planning may be required and there are investment opportunities to mitigate the IHT for your chosen beneficiaries.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss your particular circumstances.

The Spectrum IFA Group – Occitainie
occitainie@spectrum-ifa.com

Health, Wealth and Happiness

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: Financial Review, France, Inheritance Tax, Succession Planning
This article is published on: 12th April 2020

12.04.20

During the current lockdown in France, I have seen a noticeable increase in the number of my clients wishing to review the beneficiaries of their investments. This could have been prompted by the daily depressing news of covid-19 deaths around the world, or it could simply be because of the extra time available to get their financial plans in order – working through the ‘to do’ lists.

Whatever the driver behind these reviews, it is a responsible part of financial planning to think about how and to whom you wish your investments to be distributed after your passing.

Inheritance planning is a key feature of the well documented ‘assurance vie’ in France – a simple and efficient investment vehicle available to French tax residents. In the next article I will remind you of the assurance vie benefits.

For the moment, I will focus on the title of this ezine. As a Financial Advisor, I am clearly not in a position to advise you on health matters. But as it happens, during this covid-19 confinement period, my own personal health has come under review! With the extra time I now have as I am not travelling to see my clients face to face, I have been able to spend 20 mins every morning exercising via an online personal coach. I will to continue this when normal life resumes.

I am, of course, able to help you with your wealth matters; and it does matter. Perhaps during this time of global lockdown, we can all reflect on our financial plans. Should I change my spending habits? Could I afford to retire earlier than planned? How can I stay financially motivated given the financial and economic forecasts? We can all lose focus from time to time, but it’s a financial adviser’s role to help you keep focused and to bring your financial plans back on track.

Please use your spare time constructively – why not contact me for a review, either over the telephone or via a video call. We will discuss many different areas such as life insurance, pensions, savings and investments, inheritance and wills, mortgages and education fees. We do not charge you a fee for our discussions, our follow up work, our regular reviews or our reports and you are under no obligation to follow our advice. Simply put, if you agree with my recommendations and I then arrange for you for example, an assurance vie or a pension, we are then remunerated by the companies we recommended.

When the daily news is worrying, it is understandable to get absorbed about the here and now impact. We are, after all, thinking about things like the latest restrictions, food shopping and how to keep the family occupied. However, when it comes to your financial plans, it is really important to stay focused on your key objectives.

I believe that if you have your health, an abundance of family and friends, a plan for your wealth then happiness will naturally follow.

To discuss further, please contact me on 06 62 50 70 21 or email Victoria.lewis@spectrum-ifa.com

Guardianship for your Children

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: Financial Planning, France, Succession Planning
This article is published on: 11th April 2020

11.04.20

Being the mother of two small children and the aunty of several more, like many parents, the issue arose quite early of what would happen to my children if something were to happen to my husband and I and what would happen to my sisters’ children should something happen to them. Whilst I don’t need to make a will from an inheritance tax point of view, because I have two children with the same father (my husband) and French law states that my half of our assets would go to my children as bare owners (nu propriétaire) and my husband as beneficiary (usufruitier), I do need to make a will regarding my wishes for my children’s guardian.

The first question is a personal one. Who, in your family or friends, would be best placed to be able to raise your children, in the country you want them to be raised in, in their language, in the way you want them to be raised? Do(es) this person(s) have children of their own? There are a range of different questions that are all particular to your situation. If you intend to appoint someone to be a guardian, then you should talk to them about it and maybe, if possible, talk to your children about it.

The second issue is the legal aspect. There are two ways to appoint a guardian in France. Firstly, you can appoint them in your will, or you could appoint them using a special declaration. Either way a notary needs to be involved. If no guardian is appointed by the parents, under aged children will be put under the protection of the court. A “Family council” will be appointed by the Guardianship Court (Juge des tutelles). This Family Council, made up of a minimum of 4 people, will have the responsibility of appointing a guardian (if one hasn’t already been appointed) who can be a member of the family or someone outside the family. Even if a guardian has been appointed but this person is unable to either adequately care for the child or properly manage the child’s assets, the matter can be referred to the court and another family member can chose another guardian.

If a child loses one parent then it is the other parent who will have parental responsibility. This parent can either care for the child themselves or appoint a guardian, who can be a member of the family or a close friend. If the parent is unable or incapable of looking after the child, then another guardian can be appointed by the court.

The third aspect is the financial aspect. If something were to happen, would the guardian have the financial means to look after the child(ren)? One thing you can do is make sure you have life insurance (called death insurance in France) which will pay out a lump sum and/or an annuity to the children for the rest of their childhood. Often when you purchase a house there is loan insurance that will cover some or part of the value of the house upon death of one or both parents. However, it may not be convenient or possible for the child to be raised in the family home and property as an asset is difficult to manage. Other liquid assets can be kept in bank accounts like Livret As or LLDs, but large lump sums (like the proceeds of a house or the lump sum from insurance upon death) should be placed in an assurance vie in order to protect it from inflation.

Luckily it is uncommon that a young child would lose one or both parents, but it is something that plays in the back of the mind of many parents so it is better having things in place to decide, who, how and with what means someone would look after your child in the best possible way.

Save Thousands in Gift and Inheritance Tax in Spain

By John Hayward - Topics: Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning, Tax
This article is published on: 27th February 2020

27.02.20

In Spain, you can transfer money or other assets to your children or grandchildren during your lifetime, but these transfers can be subject to gift tax. Tax on gifts in Spain is payable at the time they are made.

However, many autonomous regions have special tax allowances or deductions for these gifts. In the Valencian Community, for example, each child or grandchild could be eligible to receive €100,000 without attracting any gift tax, whereas the tax on €100,000, without any allowances, would be at least €12,000. Also, gifting an asset now will mean that any growth on that asset will be free of any future inheritance tax.

The same allowance is available on inheritance, which means each child can receive €200,000 of your wealth, tax free, saving many thousands in inheritance and gift tax.

Gifting your property whilst you still live it in it, with rights to remain, is another option which many people consider. Known as usufructo, children will inherit the bare ownership of the property, possibly paying some gift tax now, but freeing property from the estate when considering inheritance tax.

As with most things relating to Brexit, what will happen next year is not known publicly at the time of writing. Also, it has been suggested that gift and inheritance tax is about to change in Spain. Therefore, if you are thinking of gifting money, or other assets to your children or grandchildren, this might be an opportunity that will not be around for much longer.

Planning for the Inevitable

By David Hattersley - Topics: Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning, Wealth Tax, Wills
This article is published on: 13th February 2020

13.02.20

The Grim Reaper is not a nice subject, but its finality remains. There are those left behind, alone after the loss of their Spouse or Partner. There is a grieving process. But at the same time is the harsh reality of due process. Wills, Probate, Succession Tax, Inheritance Tax and Death Certificates spring to mind, with added complication in a “Cross Border” society. One hopes that we can offer sympathy, support and help, but trying to soften the blow for loved ones is best prepared for with forward planning such as Wills, Funeral Plans, Life Insurance and Estate Planning.

Circumstances prior to death take many forms. Recent family experience has bought all of this into sharp focus; there was the duality of emotions, allied to the need to help in a professional capacity in what was a complex mire. The double edged sword of living longer applies. Death can be quick, or prolonged due to substantial improvements in many critical fields such as cancer treatment.

“Lingering Death” can take months or years. Drugs can help alleviate Dementia & Alzheimer’s, but do not provide a cure. These illnesses are certified causes on a Death Certificate. What isn’t is the loss of “Independent Existence”. This is a gradual erosion; loss of a lifetime spouse/partner, location, loss of mobility and simply carrying out simple day to day tasks all take their toll. It creates an immense strain on the family, financially and emotionally. ”Long Term Care” often starts in the home, but eventually Long Term Care in a Residential Nursing Home can become the only option.

In Spain costs are substantially less than the UK, but for some the UK becomes the only option due to language and family support. Careful planning in advance can sometimes mitigate the more onerous UK costs and “taxes” or help prolong the benefits of living in Spain. But it is complex and many factors need to be considered well in advance, taking into account “Cross Border Taxes” and differing rules.

It is hard to consider the impact of all the above and many people prefer to ignore it, but I feel compelled to bring this important subject into the open. There are things you can do to make things easier for your loved ones; if financial and legal aspects are well planned out, that is one less thing for them to worry about. I will be posting a series of articles dealing with the many differing issues that I have come across and the steps you can take to overcome them, as it will affect us all one way or another.

Don’t despair or defer; positive steps can be made to mitigate future headaches as much as possible and we are here to help. One of the best ways forward is to sit down with someone who understands the possibilities and to make a plan. Contact me now if you would like to discuss what you can do to make the future easier.

Spanish Succession and Gift Tax boost for non-EU beneficiaries

By John Hayward - Topics: Costa Blanca, Estate Planning, Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning
This article is published on: 6th December 2019

06.12.19

Imagine that it is Saturday 1st February 2020. Britain has calmly left the European Union with trade deals in place with Australia, Canada, South Africa, the USA, China, Cuba, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Columbia (I did say imagine). It is possible that you have children who live in one of these countries and you are resident in Spain. 2 years ago your children would not have benefited from the European Court of Justice ruling (2014) which stated that children who live in an EU/EEA country should benefit from local Spanish rules and allowances when calculating Spanish Succession and Gift Tax. Since the decision in 2018 in favour of a Canadian (Canada is not due to join the EU), the Spanish Supreme Court have ruled that “connected” non-EU beneficiaries will also benefit from the rules of each Autonomous Region in Spain. What this means is that, even if there was a hard Brexit, your child in London would be treated as fairly as one in Valencia, Havana, or Beijing.

It is possible to reclaim overpaid Succession and Gift Tax. Please get in contact if you know anybody who has been a beneficiary of an inheritance using the allowances under the old rules. The claim could amount to many thousands of Euros.

Gifting your Spanish property can save tax

Investing some time in estate planning now will help to make certain that your wealth is distributed the way you want it to be and not end up in the taxman´s pocket. One example is where we have helped parents in Spain gift their properties to their children, who live in the UK, whilst the parents continue to live in the property. This could save thousands in future inheritance tax.

Positioning investments in tax efficient structures can also help protect against inheritance tax. We have the solutions.

Inheritance Tax in Catalunya

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Catalonia, Catalunya, Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning, Tax
This article is published on: 28th April 2019

28.04.19

Inheritance Tax in Catalunya

So, we have now managed to control the amount of wealth tax due (Wealth Tax in Catalunya). However, when we receive an inheritance or leave something to our family, we are taxed again. Inheritance tax or ‘impuestos de successiones’ feels even worse than Wealth Tax. At this point we have now paid savings tax, income tax AND wealth tax. Now there is IHT on top! Like Wealth Tax, though, it is possible to manage your liability.

Inheritance Tax in Catalunya – How it works
Perhaps the most important aspect is that tax is charged to the recipient of a bequest or property physically located in Spain. For UK nationals living in Catalunya, this is a surprise, as in the UK it is on the estate of the person who has passed away.

Tax is due on the value of the bequest but the rate of tax is dependent on your relationship with the person who has passed away. A spouse, child, sister, uncle or non-related all have different methods of calculating the tax due. Once the tax has been calculated, there may be discounts to be applied to reduce the amount. Indeed, it takes at least four different steps when working out the tax due to end up with the final figure. Fortunately, help is at hand in calculating the amount.

It is also very important to understand that the tax return has to be submitted within 6 months of the death and the tax has to be paid by the same day. A common situation we see is where a person is due to inherit a share of a property but the property has not been sold within 6 months. The forms still have to be submitted to the Hacienda and tax paid based on an estimated value. Failure to do so results in a fine and interest.

How to Manage Your IHT
There are numerous strategies, but for British people, careful planning is required. In the UK it is the estate of the person who has passed away that is taxed, but in Catalunya it is the recipient; so we have two different systems with two sets of rules. Care is needed to ensure that planning in one system does not increase the liability in the other. Fortunately our qualifications and experience in the UK and in Catalunya mean we understand this issue.

Another issue specific to British people living in Catalunya is that they do not plan for RECEIVING a bequest. When asked to assist with planning for inheritance tax it is nearly always from a view of “what can I leave to my children?”. Yet before then people often receive bequests from their parents and family which triggers a tax charge. Planning for receiving a bequest can be as important as planning for leaving a bequest.

Certain assets are exempt from Inheritance Tax. Careful choice of where investments are kept can also help. Finally, dovetailing UK and Catalan Inheritance planning can also make a difference.

If you would like to discuss how to manage your Wealth Tax liability, please email me at barry.davys@spectrum-ifa.com, call me on 00 34 645 257 525, or use the contact form below.

Inheritance Tax in Catalunya

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Catalunya, Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning
This article is published on: 12th November 2017

12.11.17

So, we have now managed to control the amount of wealth tax due (Wealth Tax in Catalunya). However, when we receive an inheritance or leave something to our family, we are taxed again. Inheritance tax or ‘impuestos de successiones’ feels even worse than Wealth Tax. At this point we have now paid savings tax, income tax AND wealth tax. Now there is IHT on top! Like Wealth Tax, though, it is possible to manage your liability.

Inheritance Tax in Catalunya – How it works
Perhaps the most important aspect is that tax is charged to the recipient of a bequest or property physically located in Spain. For UK nationals living in Catalunya, this is a surprise, as in the UK it is on the estate of the person who has passed away.

Tax is due on the value of the bequest but the rate of tax is dependent on your relationship with the person who has passed away. A spouse, child, sister, uncle or non-related all have different methods of calculating the tax due. Once the tax has been calculated, there may be discounts to be applied to reduce the amount. Indeed, it takes at least four different steps when working out the tax due to end up with the final figure. Fortunately, help is at hand in calculating the amount.

It is also very important to understand that the tax return has to be submitted within 6 months of the death and the tax has to be paid by the same day. A common situation we see is where a person is due to inherit a share of a property but the property has not been sold within 6 months. The forms still have to be submitted to the Hacienda and tax paid based on an estimated value. Failure to do so results in a fine and interest.

How to Manage Your IHT
There are numerous strategies, but for British people, careful planning is required. In the UK it is the estate of the person who has passed away that is taxed, but in Catalunya it is the recipient; so we have two different systems with two sets of rules. Care is needed to ensure that planning in one system does not increase the liability in the other. Fortunately our qualifications and experience in the UK and in Catalunya mean we understand this issue.

Another issue specific to British people living in Catalunya is that they do not plan for RECEIVING a bequest. When asked to assist with planning for inheritance tax it is nearly always from a view of “what can I leave to my children?”. Yet before then people often receive bequests from their parents and family which triggers a tax charge. Planning for receiving a bequest can be as important as planning for leaving a bequest.

Certain assets are exempt from Inheritance Tax. Careful choice of where investments are kept can also help. Finally, dovetailing UK and Catalan Inheritance planning can also make a difference.

If you would like to discuss how to manage your Wealth Tax liability, please email me at barry.davys@spectrum-ifa.com, call me on 00 34 645 257 525, or use the contact form opposite.

 

 

 

 

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Successful estate planning in France – Having a will is just the beginning

By Sean Webb - Topics: Estate Planning, France, Succession Planning, Wills
This article is published on: 16th October 2017

16.10.17

When I left school, I knew more about Shakespeare than I did about personal finance. While we gain academic knowledge through education, and professional knowledge through work, there is no formal channel for learning the key life skill of money management. Most of us pick it up in the same way we acquire our wealth – very few have a strategy, even fewer have a plan.

The problem is that personal finance can be complex, sometimes very complex. Mistakes can be costly. This is especially so in France, even for the French themselves. How much more so then for those of us whose first language is not French. And one of the most complicated areas of personal finance in France is estate and inheritance planning.

Successful personal finance is not just about organising our financial affairs so that, while we work hard for money, our money works hard for us. It is also about putting in place arrangements to transmit that resultant wealth in the best conditions to the chosen ones we leave behind.

The passing of a loved one can be one of the most stressful moments of our lives, one where our families are at their most vulnerable. It is then that we need to rely on the robustness of the arrangements that we have already put in place. In spite of this, most of us do not have even a basic will.

The starting point of any successful estate planning starts with defining the ultimate goal. There are three aspects: –

  1. The capacity to transfer at death whatever assets remain to your preferred beneficiaries in proportions of your choosing
  2. In the most cost efficient and tax intelligent manner with the minimum amount of deductions
  3. While ideally retaining and maximising as much control as possible during your lifetime

The bad news is that in France ‘forced heirship’ succession law and inheritance tax rates of up to 60% can make this difficult to achieve. For families with complicated situations, such as step children, this can be especially problematic and UK arrangements will not necessarily function in France and may have unpredicted results. Moreover, finding a proactive English speaking French lawyer prepared to take the time to fully understand your situation and needs can be both challenging and expensive.

The good news is that there is also a complexity of legal and financial planning strategies that can be used when defining your plan to help you achieve your goals and get you nearer to the ideal goal, as defined above. Here are some examples: –

  1. A will with the possible addition of a ‘clause d’attribution intégrale au survivant’ or ‘clause de préciput’. Given Brexit, hand written wills in English should not be relied on in practice.
  2. A change of marriage regime, typically from ‘séperation de biens’ to ‘communauté universelle’ to protect the surviving spouse
  3. Brussels IV (EU Regulation 650/2012) allows you to avoid French succession law (not tax) by opting for the law of your country of nationality rather than of your residence
  4. Adoption of step children
  5. Gifts (‘donations’)
  6. A strategy of dismemberment (‘démembrement’) of real estate into life interest (‘nu-propriété) and usufruct (‘usufruit’). This can significantly reduce the inheritance tax bill, especially if done sooner rather than later via a will at time of death
  7. Use of assurance vie as tax optimisation wrapper for financial assets, ideal for transmitting inheritance to distant relatives, friends or third parties
  8. Careful editing of the beneficiary clause within an assurance vie policy
  9. A strategy of dismemberment can also be applied to certain assurance vie policies.
  10. Use of inheritance tax free allowances –the standard 100,000 EUR per child per parent and a second one via assurance vie adds another 152,500 EUR per beneficiary.

So make it easier on your lawyer and help him to help you. Given the complexity of both the issues and the solutions, ask for a free holistic review of your situation from your financial adviser so you can already begin to define your needs and goals, and have an idea of what strategies are possible.

Thus prepared, you will make your lawyer’s job easier and so less time consuming. As well as achieving peace of mind, you might even save yourself some fees!

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