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For further information you should contact us.

For a detailed list of questions and scenarios, please visit our FAQ's.

Contact Us

Our business consists of providing legal advice to British and other English language purchasers of properties in France. All the staff at Sean O'Connor speak fluent French and will converse directly in French when handling your business. Fees are in most cases arranged on a package basis and are pre-agreed.

These are the services we offer:

  • French conveyancing - property purchases and sales
  • French inheritance laws
  • French inheritance tax
  • French capital gains tax
  • French income tax
  • French wealth tax
  • French land holding companies
  • French translations
  • French wills
  • French matrimonial regimes
  • French winding up of estates


Now here is a TGV getting you there.  TGV means train à grande vitesse which means train at high speed .

Now what is "grande vitesse"   in a French property purchase?  Answer : two months if you are not obtaining a mortgage and three months if you are.  In this sense, we are your   legal TGV .

Ride with us .  You will be fine.

Buying a French Property

  • The Contract is followed by a Deed of Sale, as it is in the UK. However, unlike the UK, you sign your  Contract on Day 1 and are then subject to suspensive conditions (get out clauses).
  • We examine the Contract and report on it in writing and in detail, adding any suspensive conditions that may be desirable.  We do not translate the Contract.  This is unnecessary.  Some pre-printed French Contract forms now contain English translations, largely unintelligible.  Our report will make the Contract clear to you and, while being thorough, will stick to the essential.
  •  We liaise with the French Estate agent and/or French Notary. This ensures all changes and conditions are acceptable to the vendor.
  • Subsequently we examine the draft Deed of Sale and report on it in exactly the same manner.

Selling a French Property 


  • We explain how French capital gains tax is calculated, and we do our own calculation of it for you.  The rules as to what invoices are and are not deductible are technical and rigid.  We will explain them to you.
  • If the sale price is more than 150,000 euros, you used to need an accredited representative in France to prepare the Tax Return for you, but assuming that you reside within the European Union that is no longer the case.  For all prices, the Notaire will prepare the capital gains tax return for you.   Normally he will not charge you for this as, perhaps surprisingly, all his fees are paid by the Purchaser unless otherwise agreed. 
  • As at present, you will also have to pay French Social Charges on top of French Capital Gains Tax.  For further information go to our French Legal Issue No.  3 on this website.
  • We examine the Contract and the Deed and report on each of these two documents to you sticking to the essential, bearing in mind that all you really want to know is that you will be released from all liabilities and will get your money.
  • We stay with you until you do get your money.

Inheritance Tax

There is no longer any inheritance tax in France between husband and wife.  If you have signed  up to a PACS, which is roughly the same thing as a UK civil partnership and which  you can only have if you are permanently resident in France, there is no inheritance tax between the partners of the PACS.  A UK Civil Partnership is now recognised in France as if it were a French PACS so it is fiscally treated in exactly the same way as a PACS. 

Children can receive from each parent 100,000 euros free of tax.  Above that, simplifying here a bit, the rate is 20% up to 552,324 euros.   

Note that strangers in blood i.e. persons outside the family  pay inheritance tax at 60 %.  For further information go to French Legal Issue No. 2 on this website.

For fuller particulars you should contact us.   

Planning Issues

The planning laws in France have recently been revamped.

Briefly, if you are going to make any changes to the external appearance of your property, you will need an outline planning permission [certificat d'urbanisme positif].  We will make sure you get it and will render the Contract subject to you doing so.

The Commune where you are purchasing may or may not have a land development plan.  If it does, the plan will have constructible and non-constructible areas.  In constructible areas there will be, depending on the precise place, a particular coefficient showing the maximum floor surface area that may be built on a  particular plot.   We will check all this for you.

Special rules apply to an estate of plots [lotissement].

For further information, you should contact us.

Winding up of French Estates

  • The French Notary will prepare an Act of Notoriety recording that the deceased person has died and stating who is entitled to inherit the property having regard to the deceased's Will if any,  and to the French inheritance laws, that is to say in particular the compulsory reserves in favour of children.
  • The French Notary will also prepare an Attestation as to Devolution of Real-Estate, which in effect puts the deceased's interest in his or her real-estate into the names of the beneficiaries.
  • The French Notary will also prepare a declaration of the value of the Estate of the deceased and submit the declaration to the French Inheritance Tax Administration.
  • The detail of all this is complicated and time consuming.  We liaise with the French Notary in every respect on your behalf, thereby getting the whole job largely off your back.
  • If you are a beneficiary you will have to sign a Power of Attorney in favour of a clerk in the Notary's office for the purpose of accepting the Estate.  We prepare the necessary Power of Attorney for you.
  • If the deceased died domiciled in England,  UK inheritance tax maybe involved, so if necessary and if desired, we also prepare the UK Inland Revenue account. 

For further information you should contact us.

For a detailed list of questions and scenario's, please visit our FAQ's

Contact Us