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french matrimonial regime


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we are having to structure our joint ownership of our french property and we know that our best course of action is to change our french matrimonial regime.

i believe the french term for this process is "regime de communaute universelle avec clause d'attribution integrale de la communaute au conjoint survivant"

has anyone done this themselves and please could you say how much it costs to do

also, does anyone know of an english-speaking notaire in the bordeaux, cognac, perigeaux area whom we can engage to do this for us

many thanks indeed

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thanks for your reply.  i shall now be ready with all info that the notaire might possibly need.  and it doesn't seem too expensive or onerous so we'll do the change in the very near future



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We used a really good notaire who is in Mussidan (between Bordeaux and Perigeux) and who spoke excellent English. He was very efficient and helpful and had an English speaking assistant who actually used email. Pm me if you would like his details.
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The term you quote is one of several regimes recognised by the French, admittedly the one that seems best for most British people. You should seek advice as to whether it will be the right regime for you before committing yourself to it. Also, the change is not possible or not beneficial for everybody. Cost depends on whether you do it before or after signing the Acte de Vente for your house, and seems to vary considerably between notaires.
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many thanks indeed for your comments.  from my limited research of the subject, i think it probably is right for us  both as my husband and i have been married before and have children from our previous marriages though not from our own marriage.

i do appreciate the time and trouble you have taken

all the best

therese (sweet 17)

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[quote user="sweet 17"]

...from my limited research of the subject, i think it probably is right for us  both as my husband and i have been married before and have children from our previous marriages though not from our own marriage.


Therese - those are exactly the reasons why we were told (by a notaire) that a CU would not be right for us. Just shows how advice from supposedly reliable sources can be so variable.

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This problem arises from the use of a differing default situation.The French default is non-CU whilst the UK default is, effectively, CU. I had heard that there was a test case going through the European courts that basically said that a standard EU marriage should be recognised in a host country as its home equivalent and NOT as the host countries default. In other words, UK marriages should be recognised in France as CU because thats the intention in UK law. Anybody know what became of that?

At least you guys are lucky that your notaire recognises this problem. Ours initially denied there was such a thing as CU until I showed him the french legal papers that I downloaded (thanks to somebody pasting the link on this forum yonks ago). He then subsequently refused to process our change without a letter from our Marie in England giving him dispensation. We tried repeatedly telling him we don't have anything quite like a French  Marie and our Mayor might sound a similar word but doesn't have anything to do with marriages but we were absolutely up against gallic pigheadedness. According to our immobilier he's being a pain in the harris to everybody and its not just Les Anglais that get messed about.

Still, if he doesn't want our business we'll find somebody that does.....

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dear goose

i had a giggle at your message.  talk about cultural differences!  now that i have heard about your experience, i should be very careful as to which notaire i appoint to do this for us

what would be the ultimate best thing would be if the cu matter as you describe it is then extended to wills and inheritance but i don't for one moment think that that would ever be

i am looking at the implications of just keeping the french property (an immovable object) french as it were and keeping the rest of our assets elsewhere.  haven't got as far as finding out about tax and other implications.  fortunately, the french property does not constitute anything like the bulk of our assets

when i do find out more about this, i will post the info on the forum.  alternately if there are folks out there who are experts in french and uk inheritance tax, please don't keep all that useful knowledge to yourselves, will you? 

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I was under the impression that a notaire would only grant CU in circumstances such as this if he received written agreement from all heirs (ie the children from the former marriages, plus any from a current marriage) since the CU effectively disinherits them or at least defers inheritance.


This of course may be yet another regional view of the complex French laws.

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thank you so much for your view of this.  it's not what i wanted to hear as one of the "children", being autistic, will be unable to give his "consent" but at least i am now forewarned as to what might be requested

complexity is one thing but being beyond the commonsense view of "reasonable" beggars belief

thanks anyway and i hope all affected will take note!

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Hmm, disinheriting the kids is a different issue and almost imposible in France I'm told. We don't have children so the CU was solely to mimic the situation we have in the UK where you own a house as "tenants in common" and therefore when one of you dies - as is inevitable - the other automatically gains the house without it going through the estate and therefore being subject to inheritance tax. In France the house normally passes to the children and they let mama carry on living in it so it doesn't catch them out as much as us. I don't know that a CU is neccessarily the best situation for people with kids, especially with one who is autistic. I'd be taking very careful legal advice if I were you.

Our problems only arose because we thought the notaire was doing our "CU" and then on the day of exchange he simply said "no" and we were left sitting there with a wad of money opposite the couple selling the house and an intransigent notaire. The entente was a little less cordiale for a few minutes but we were stuffed and he knew it. Barsteward!

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Hi All,

My boyfriend and I have just spent about 6 hours at our Notaire

discussing the best course of action in just such a

situation.   My boyfriend has kids from a previous marriage

and I have none.   We bought our house whilst unmarried and

only found out about such problems through this website so thanks to

all the questions.   What we have done is to make a contract

of marriage (cannot remember the name right now) which basically makes

anything that we buy together common to the marriage.  

(Basically disinheriting the kids).   The only claim that the

kids might have is on the amount of the mortage we have already

paid.   So, without getting too complicated, imagine we have

already paid 10,000 Euros of our mortgage before we get married the

children can then claim a percentage of that amount since the house did

not yet belong to the marriage.   Therefore, we have to get

married as quick as possible - just getting all the paperwork together


However, we did get one surprise - the price!!   Since the

house will be passed from one partner to the other with no inheritence

tax you have to pay a tax on the amount of the mortgage you have

already paid.   I don't know the percentage but we only have

our house since October last year and it cost us 1.300€ to make the

marriage contract.   We live in Alsace and so we have a

different regime, in other parts of France you have to add another

2.000€ (roughly) to this price.   If you are prepared for

this its not a huge amount of money but we had no idea it would cost

anything like that.

Once you are married the children have NO claim on the house

whatsoever.   We did not need permission from the kids to do

this because we bought the house 50/50.   If my boyfriend had

put more deposit than me or he paid more mortgage than me then it would

have been more complicated apparently!

We should get our papers soon and I'll be able to give you the exact name of the contract!

Hope everything works out for you.   Other tip if you are

getting married and you pay tax in France then do it in the middle of

the year - you save more tax!   And beware that the documents

you need from the British embassy cost 64€ each too!

What a hassle!!!!!

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Also, after 1 January next, French inheritance law is changing. Although the basic principle remains (i.e. you cannot disinherit children) there are a number of important alterations to the current situation, including the possiblity to provide for stepchildren without having to legally adopt them. This is not automatic, and needs to be set up in the right way, so do see a notaire or other qualified professional about it. Not all notaires seem to be aware of the change, surprisingly, so refer them to the www.notaires.fr web site (where there is a summary, in French) if they don't seem to know what you are talking about.
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