French law has many differences compared to what you may be used to in your country of origin. In our series of questions from FrenchEntrée magazine readers, our expert contributors select the most frenquently asked questions on matter of French law. In this case, the query comes from a reader in the UK, about the validity of a foreign power of attorney in France.
Reader: My wife and I are both in our mid 70s and own a holiday home in France. We still make good use of the property and enjoy our visits to it. However, we are becoming concerned about what would happen if either of us became ill and loses mental capacity. How will the other be able to sign documents to sell the property if one of us is considered unfit to sign?
Barbara Heslop: Just as in the UK, there is a process to alleviate such a problem. In the UK, individuals have the option of giving a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to a family member or close friend. A similar option exists in France and is known as ‘un mandat de protection future’ (‘a mandate for future protection’). This is a way for individuals who have legal capacity to appoint someone to manage their affairs if and when the individual is no longer capable of doing so.
The mandate is a formal document and although the involvement of a French notary is not compulsory, it is advisable to have the document drawn up as an “authentic deed” by a notary in France. This ensures the existence of the document is safeguarded and that it will be easy to locate if it becomes necessary to use it. Also the involvement of the notary in France should mean that the deed will be correctly drafted with no ambiguous provisions or clauses.
The mandate can also include details of what level of care the individual wishes to receive at the end of their life (such as provisions similar to a ‘living will’).
However, for UK residents such as you who own property in France, you might find it easier to put a UK LPA in place. In the event of incapacity, French authorities and notaries will recognise a valid UK LPA and the powers conferred by it, and allow your solicitor to sign on your behalf, provided that evidence is produced to satisfy them as to its authenticity and validity for the purpose intended – ie to deal with the sale of a property in France.
As always, please seek specialist advice before signing any legal document whether in France or in the UK.
•With thanks to Barbara Heslop, Principal, Heslop & Platt
For more information, contact Heslop & Platt, Solicitors and French Law Specialists on +44 (0)113 393 1930 or see www.heslop-platt.co.uk
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal, or other professional advice. We would advise you to seek professional advice before acting on this information.
From FrenchEntrée magazine