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Thegonnec, Judge
Category: French Law
Satisfied Customers: 1419
Experience:  15 years experience as judge at Paris Industrial Tribunal
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Hi My parents, who were both domiciled in Jersey in the

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My parents, who were both domiciled in Jersey in the Channel Islands (Iles de la Manche), purchased a property in France in the 1970s.
My father died last year and as his executor I have been attempting to deal with his estate and have thus instructed a French notaire to handle the formalities required under French law in regard to my parents' property.
Sadly my mother suffers from dementia and I have been appointed as her legal guardian (curateur) by the Royal Court of Jersey. As "curateur" my role is simply to administer my mother's assets which remain in her name. I am unable to sell or acquire assets on my mother's behalf without the Royal Court's consent.
The notaire advises me that me and my brother have inherited the reversion ("nue propriete") of half the French property from our father and that my mother has inherited the life-enjoyment of my late father's share.
In order that the French formalities may be completed he has informed me as follows (I quote):
"Je vais établir la consistance de la succession de votre père en vous adressant une déclaration de succession (document que j’établis et qui liste l’ensemble des biens de vos parents et votre père en France).
Vous devrez demander au juge compétent de Jersey d’autoriser un de mes clercs à accepter au nom de votre mère, la succession de votre père. Vous ne pouvez agir au nom de votre mère, en raison de l’opposition d’intérêt qui existe entre vous à raison de l’usufruit que votre mère profite sur les biens de votre père.
Cette décision du juge devra être revêtue de l’apostille (c’est une certification de la capacité du juge à prendre une décision). Cette apostille est délivrée par le Foreign Office à Londres."
My first question is am I conflicted as asserted by the notaire? I really do not see how I can be unless the concept of conflict in French law is different to that in Jersey law of which I have some knowledge.
My second question is can me and my brother renounce our inheritance of our father's share in the French property? This would then presumably obviate the need to follow the tortuous procedure outlined by the notaire. I am sure it will not be that simple.
Yes, this is standard procedure under French law. French law supposes that is a conflict of interest as soon as you and a person for whom you have been appointed legal guardian, or tutor, have different interests in a same notarial transaction involving acquiring assets or parting of assets. This is why we have the juge aux tutelles intervene in all notarial transactions involving both a guardian/tutor and his protégé(e). Which complicates matters tremendously. And even more when the appointment as guardian or tutor was make by a Foreign court.
Renouncing your inheritance would unfortunately not obviate the procedure as you would still be part of the transaction, albeit in a different capacity altogether as a renouncer to the inheritance. Besides, it would be likely, depending on the value of the French assets, to be costly in terms of inheritance tax. If you inherit the property in 2 sequences, your brother and yourself can each claim a inheritance tax base reduction of 200 k€ (100K€ on the share inherited from your father and 100K€ on the other half you will one day inherit from your mother). If you renounce your inheritance on your father's share, you will inherit the entire property and be able to claim the base reduction only once.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Many thanks for your clear and comprehensive reply.


I have a supplementary question:


If I am to obtain the Royal Court of Jersey's consent to the procedure you and my notaire have outlined as required under French law I will need to provide the Royal Court with an explanation of what it is granting its consent to.


Can you explain the role of the notaire's clerk and what if any duties he will be required to perform? Is he in fact acting as a form of substitute guardian/curateur in my place as I am deemed to be conflicted and will his role be a continuing role or a "one off" simply to effect the transfer the life interest in my father's half of the French property to my mother?