French property buyers are probably already familiar with the role of a notaire when purchasing a property in France. These public officials are responsible for handling the legal side of the property purchase, including collecting all the relevant documents, ensuring that all legal requirements have been met, collecting the various associated taxes and fees, and overseeing the signing of the contracts.
However, French notaires aren’t only involved in property sales – they also provide a range of legal services and are often required by law to draw up contracts or carry out legal formalities. Here are some of the other reasons that you might need to use a French notaire.
Making a will
A notaire should be your first port of call if you wish to draw up a French Will and will be able to advise you on whether you need a Will and how your property and assets will be affected by French inheritance law. The notaire can draw up your Will for you, your spouse, and other family members, and most importantly, they are legally bound to remain impartial and prevent any illegal clauses from being included in such contracts.
Note, however, that notaires deal with French Wills, and as an expat with potential assets, investments, and family members overseas, you may also want to consult with an international lawyer who specialises in cross-border inheritance planning.
Handling inheritance claims and disputes
The notaire also plays an important role in handling any inheritance rights or claims under French law. After a death, it is the notaires job to issue the “acte de notoriété”, the certificate granting inheritance rights and enabling the inheritor to access the deceased’s bank accounts, etc.
Notaires are also responsible for handling any inheritance claims or disputes, especially in instances of multiple people inheriting a property or in situations where there are disagreements or legal disputes concerning inheritance matters.
Getting PACS or married
If you’re getting married or PACS (pacte civil de solidarité or civil union) in France, a notaire will be able to advise you of your legal rights, especially concerning inheritance and the division of assets. The notaire can draw up both marriage and PACS contracts, although it is not required to use a notaire unless you wish to sign a prenuptial agreement (which can only be drawn up by a notaire).
Either way, French laws surrounding marriage and inheritance can be complicated, so it’s a smart idea to book an appointment to discuss any concerns in advance.
Providing legal advice for businesses
Notaires are able to provide advice on the different business structures in France and the legal responsibilities and potential concerns for your business. You might want to use a notaire to draw up legal paperwork or contracts for your business, either when starting or expanding a business, entering into any kind of business partnership, or going through a merger or takeover.
Note that the notaire’s role concerns the legal side of your business only – they cannot offer tax or financial advice, and you will still need to employ an accountant or tax advisor to handle this side of things.
Carrying out divorce, adoption, or paternity procedures
Notaires are able to give advice on legal family matters and are bound by confidentiality laws. In the instance of a divorce, where there are shared assets, the notaire is responsible for drawing up the divorce papers, and they can also be engaged to draw up custody agreements, issue paternity papers and adoption papers, and any other legal agreements concerning your family.
Signing papers on your behalf
Notaires are able to draw up “power of attorney” or “procuration” contracts, allowing them to sign legal contracts on your behalf. They can arrange a proxy for property sales contracts and other legal contracts, as well as set up electronic signatures – all of which can be especially helpful for foreign buyers and property owners who can’t always be present for legal proceedings.
Providing copies of legal deeds and documents
If you’ve lost important legal documents such as your Will, property deeds, or prenuptial contract, don’t worry – notaires are required by law to keep archives of all documents officially signed in their presence. Official copies can be reissued for a small fee.
Offering free and impartial legal advice
You can make an appointment to see a notaire at any time to discuss your legal concerns, and they are bound by law to offer impartial advice and maintain confidentiality. While most notaires services are charged for (fees are typically set or regulated by the state), there is also the possibility to book a free consultation through your department’s CDAD (Conseil Départemental de l’Accès du Droit). Search for your local CDAD to book a free appointment or “permanence gratuite”.
Leave a reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *