As of August 17, 2015, the rules applying to international succession will change.
Before that date, in case of death abroad, it is the civil law of the last domicile of the deceased that applies to the movable assets and the civil law of the country where are located the real estate properties for these latter.
After August 17, only one civil law will apply to the whole estate (movable and immovable) and that will be that of the State in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of death.
Any expatriate must keep in mind that it is the law of the host country that will apply to his/her estate and not the French law. This notably applies also in countries where Sharia law applies.
Thus, current or future expatriates have interest to wonder as of today if the French inheritance rules are more interesting or not with regard to their personal circumstances compared to the law of their country of expatriation.
Indeed, the new EU Regulation on succession allows any citizen living abroad to choose the law of the country of his nationality to govern his succession in due course.
It is therefore wise for any expatriate to opt during his lifetime for the law that will be applicable to his/her estate at his/her death, especially if he/her wants to benefit from the French forced heirship rules and to avoid the risk of disinheriting his/ her heirs.
Thus anticipation is key for any French citizens who are expatriated abroad.
But beware, this does not change the tax that will apply to the inheritance.
Client Alert 2015-098