Purchasing a property in France is a significant investment and it is essential to fully understand the intricacies of French property law and procedures before making such a big investment.
Only a native french qualified lawyer is in the position to provide you with this highest level of French law expertise and then help you to anticipate and avoid problem.
On the other hand, it is important that you get assistance from a professional who can speak your language.
Assistance in French property law
The law firm of Indra Balassoupramaniane can assist you with the purchase or the sale of your French property.
The firm offers legal assistance for a fixed fee package depending on the value of the property.
In this package, the following services are provided:
- Examination of the terms of the pre-contract (referred usually to as the “Compromis de vente”)
- Report on the compromis de vente (in English) allowing you to decide whether to proceed with the purchase
- Liaison with the French notaire and other players involved in the transaction (estate agents, etc.)
- Examination of the final deed of sale (acte de vente)
- General telephonic advice throughout the transaction
The role of the French notaire
Please note that, unlike the UK conveyancing legal system, the French notaires, who are nominated by the French state to deal with French property affairs (among other matters), are not expressly instructed to protect the interests of either vendor or purchaser as their responsibility is simply to execute the property transfer and to collect taxes related to property sales. Also, a French notaire will not be conversant with English legal system and will not understand the problems that the French system procedure may create for foreigners (he/she may not even speak English).
As such, it is important to seek independent legal assistance such as a bilingual French lawyer who will explain to you the French legal system, along with its implications, particularly with regard to taxation and inheritance rights.
Indeed, on the issue of successions, the property in France is governed by French succession rules. Unlike UK system, French law dictates that certain heirs have automatic rights of inheritance, which must be respected, and a surviving spouse/partner does not automatically become the legal beneficiary of the property in France in the event of the death of the other spouse/partner.
However, there are, in certain circumstances, ways to structure the purchase to minimise the impact of inheritance rules if desired. Indra Balassoupramaniane can advise you which would be the best way to structure your purchase. Discussion and advice on the French succession issues are included in the fixed fee package.