Death and joint accounts
19th February 2018 at 16:58 #1823317
We are a married couple with no children on either side and no property in the UK other than bank accounts. Due to health problems on my part even after being here for 9 years we are still renting. A retired builder, I still intend to buy land and take control of the construction since I find materials and design by French builders to be really crap and outdated but that’s for the near future.
We intend to simplify our bank accounts both here in France with just one joint account, we have always had total financial trust in each other. We also intend to do the same in the UK. The less paperwork the better and should my wife survive me I want to leave things as simple as possible.
I’ve a good idea of how expensive settling affairs is in France via notaires. Am I right to assume that joint accounts do not constitute part of a deceased estate, in our case the most important question, an accurate answer would be most appreciated.19th February 2018 at 18:22 #1823323
helixhelixParticipantJoined: 21 May 2010Location: 39Total posts: 394
The joint account must be M ou Mme. If it is in the names of M et Mme then it is considered as two individual accounts just in the same place, and will be frozen on the death of either party.19th February 2018 at 19:00 #1823328
The only accounts in France that can be held as” joint ” are bank current cheque accounts ,and certain assurance vie contracts . All french savings and share accounts etc. must be in sole name.
Houses can be held in indivision (tenancy in common) which is also taken as 50/50 unless otherwise stipulated in the Acte de vente. A car can also be registered as Mr ou Mme …………., which simplifies transfer.
If you were married in the UK , and have not changed your marriage regime , then at succession , all assets in sole names are regarded as being 100% the property of the named owner, and all joint property (in your case the bank cheque account only -joint assurance vie is not advised for your marriage regime) is treated as having belonged 50/50 by the account holders .
With no children and no living parents the surviving spouse automatically inherits all the deceased’s estate outright. If there is no real estate involved , and there is no will , a notaire is only necessary to provide the acte de notorieté de succession (needed to get access to the full joint account) , which costs about 60€.
So, at present you , or your wife , would not face any large notaire’s bill , provided you own no house or land, and you resist any attempt by the notaire to convince you that you need more services.
You must ,yourself, complete the declaration of succession for the tax authorities, which in your case would not be difficult , the forms can be downloaded and the tax people can assist. I have done a quite complicated one for a widowed friend and it is straightforward, no worse than a normal tax declaration.
Once you buy land the above won’t apply , and a notaire has to be involved because of the paperwork to transfer the real estate at the succesion. One way to reduce the fees on this may be to change your marriage to the french communauté universelle regime before buying the land; I advise you to speak to a good notaire about this.20th February 2018 at 01:13 #1823358
Helixhelix – it is M ou Mme and it is a chequing account.
parsnips – we got married in France and did not make any legal arrangements, should we belatedly do so? or does this civil ceremony make it a ‘communaute universelle regime’ automatically?
I realised tonight that I was a fool not to remember that a retired notaire and his wife and her mother have moved permanently into a house literally across the road, it was just a holiday home until he retired. We are friendly with the whole family and have broken bread with them, perhaps the best legal advice we could find, let’s see.
We have each yet to make a testament olographe. We understand the form and contents to validate the document and the delay has been, what charities to leave our estates to, as we know that for tax purposes, the tax authorities will hammer any bequests to foreign charities whilst French ones are untaxed.
Our assets are liquid and in UK banks, we liquidated all our ISAs except one in my wife’s name as we fully intended to stay in France and for tax purposes they are not recognised by the French tax system. We intend to consolidate our UK bank accounts into one joint one. I intend to open a UK options account in the near future, to satisfy the part of my character that enjoys ‘dancing on the edge’.20th February 2018 at 13:34 #1823403
If you marry in France without a special contract you are in the so-called “regime legal “, other wise k.a. “communauté reduite aux acquets” -this means that what you owned before marriage remains in your sole ownership , but anything acquired after is owned communally ,as in a UK joint tenancy. Your notaire friend may confirm this – show him your marriage documents.
In my opinion , given that you have no children , you have no need to make wills ,as everything reverts to the survivor , free of inheritance tax. When you acquire land and a house , this would still apply as the real estate would be in the “communauté”, and would automatically revert to the survivor; the intervention of a notaire would be required just to legally transfer title of the house , but IMO a full succession would not be necessary. Again , ask your notaire friend to confirm.
It is possible to leave donations to UK charities without them paying french Inheritance tax , see this (especially the last couple of paragraphs);
regarding your liquid assets in the UK , they are also subject to french law and taxes , but inheritances between spouses are completely free of french IHT.20th February 2018 at 14:00 #1823420
loup-garouParticipantJoined: 28 Sep 2012Location: South Haute-MarneTotal posts: 842
I have two accounts which I have always considered to be “savings” accounts in that they pay interest, albeit sparingly!
One is with CA and is titled Releve de Comptes en Euros and the other is with LCL and is titled Releve de Compte sur Livret and both of these accounts are in the name of M ou Mme.20th February 2018 at 14:25 #1823426
Parsnips, I have two accounts which I have always considered to be “savings” accounts in that they pay interest, albeit sparingly! One is with CA and is titled Releve de Comptes en Euros and the other is with LCL and is titled Releve de Compte sur Livret and both of these accounts are in the name of M ou Mme.
I do apologise; I / we have never held these accounts , savings beyond the limits for the tax-free accounts go into Assurance -Vie.
Such joint savings accounts , I now learn , are not automatically blocked at the decease of one holder , but in the presence of reserved heirs , the deceased’s half is part of his/her estate , and subject to forced heirship rules .
In the OP’s case , this is irrelevant as the surviving spouse is the only heir.
I should mention to the OP that after the succession the survivor should make a will setting out their wishes for their estate – if they are intending to leave sums to charity most charities will assist the will making (although this probably would be more useful with legacies to french charities).20th February 2018 at 18:53 #1823455
What can I say – except a huge thank you.
We will each make a testament olographe, simply because you never know, an accident could take both of us at the same time and I do have an evil sibling, the reason we couldn’t entertain living in France until 2008 – she is no longer a ‘reserved heir’. I feel certain that if we didn’t designate charities and died intestate she would have a claim.
If as intended we do own a house then it will be left to charities on last death.
Your paragraph on non French charitable bequests must surely have a big question mark after Brexit or not?
It really is a shame French Entree is closing these forums. I understand why but I have found this site to be so useful and would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all those who have shared their knowledge so freely with others.20th February 2018 at 20:20 #1823460
ChanceuxParticipantJoined: 17 Mar 2010Location: PicardieTotal posts: 13130
The titles are the name of the document not the accounts.
One is with CA and is titled Releve de Comptes en Euros
and the other is with LCL and is titled Releve de Compte sur Livret a
The first (CA) actually means statement of Euro (currency) accounts, mine includes statements for my current account, the Livret A, Livret LDD and all the others whose names I have forgotten
The second (LCL) means savings account statement (one of the Livret schemes)
21st February 2018 at 09:38 #1823489
- This reply was modified 20 Feb 2018 20:22 by Chanceux.
loup-garouParticipantJoined: 28 Sep 2012Location: South Haute-MarneTotal posts: 842
Thanks for that clarification Chancer although I admit to being a tad confused since I looked up the papers. The first (CA) only has details of one account, as I say, which gains a dribble of interest. I had thought CA did a check when I opened it and confirmed that I had no other Livret account but now I see the LCL one has that word.
Is it true that you can only have one Livret type account and that it is not necessary to record that on your tax return – up to certain limits?21st February 2018 at 12:10 #1823518
The charities exemption applies to registered charities in EEE countries , so some doubt about post-Brexit – personally I think it will continue; however , it might be prudent to look for french charities with the same sort of aims as the British ones you wish to support. For animals- IFAW and WWW have french branches , SPA is like RSPCA, for people – Red Cross, Medecins sans Frontiers ,have french branches and I am sure you can find something to suit. One that I support is “Contribuables Associés” which gets tax exemptions despite being created to campaign against the government to get reduced taxes.23rd February 2018 at 12:26 #1823692
it was in the 90s’ when we were still in the UK and I got a cold call (banned in Germany for decades) touting for contributions for the RSPCA. I got suspicious and asked the obvious question “you are volunteering for this work”, “no we get paid,” I was appalled. There must be people all over the country who would volunteer for free. It started me delving into the RSPCA’s finances. They have enormous funds and the salaries for those at the top are disgusting, on a par with commercial companies. No one should expect those at the top to work for nothing but their salaries and especially there pensions are wonderful. Medecin sans Frontiers – the doctors and nurses on the ground are doing an excellent job but those at the top?
Someone on this forum marked my card about the SPA – take a look at the particular kennels, some are good, others not so good. Make a general bequest and it goes to Paris. As it happens we shall be moving to within 6K of the Tarn kennels. I/we would love to help out if the kennels turn out to be one of the ‘good ones’. There are charities that buy rain forest land for use as animal sanctuaries, we need to investigate these as well. As with everything parsnip – there is no substitute for thorough research.23rd February 2018 at 16:04 #1823725
I was not recommending any particular charities (except Contribuables Associés), just demonstrating that there are french branches or equivalents of UK ones . Personally , I would never support the RSPCA,which is overly political . Most of the publicity and canvassing for the bigger charities is done by companies which take big cuts out of the collected monies. In view of recent events , all the headline charities should be regarded with caution. I responded to your post which seemed to seek ways of giving your assets to something other than the government (a worthy aim). Besides the big-name charities (all of which are somewhat suspect) there are many establishments and associations which can receive legs , some of those exempt from IHT are listed in the article here;http://www.associations.gouv.fr/donations-et-legs.html
Your mairie may be able to suggest others locally.27th February 2018 at 10:50 #1824034
once again a big thank you and yes I agree entirely with your comments about the big charities, I havn’t trusted any of them for a long, long time. Indeed this is the main reason we havn’t created our wills yet. I think we are agreed that the two areas we are seriously interested in are animal rescue centres and land bought to be protected wildlife santuaries.
A few years ago I saw for sale a farm only 10 K from a town with all services. It had 7 hectares of land with a crappy old farmhouse. It would have been a doddle to create woodland for coppicing and open spaces, great for wildlife and be assured no hunter would have dared to enter this space, I would have made a point of ‘marking their card’. The problem was the local mayor wouldn’t entertain letting me knock down the rubbish building and create a comfortable 21st century home. Then we could have left the land as a wildlife sanctuary with the house as a warden’s home – so it goes.