A French notaire is a public official appointed by the Ministry of Justice, and not the equivalent of a notary public in the United States. The number of notaires in each jurisdiction is limited, and their fees fixed by law. Their functions include the preparation and recording of notarial acts (i.e. wills, deeds, acts of incorporation, marriage contracts) the administration and settlements of estates (excluding litigation in court) and serving as the repository of wills. They are not lawyers, but very specialized members of the legal profession. They may not plead in court.
See below for Information on Settling an Estate in France.
Disclaimer: The U.S. Embassy Paris, France assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by the following persons or firms. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. The information in the list on professional credentials, areas of expertise and language ability are provided directly by the lawyers. You may receive additional information about the individuals by contacting the local bar association (or its equivalent) or the local licensing authorities. Important Note: Officers of the Department of State and U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad are prohibited by federal regulation from acting as agents, attorneys or in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of U.S. citizens in private legal disputes abroad. (22 CFR 92.81, 10.735-206(a)(7), 72.41, 71.5.)
Settling an Estate in France
In most cases, the services of a “notaire” is required to settle an estate in France. A notaire is a government-appointed lawyer whose role is essential for all real estate transactions: if property is bought, sold, donated or inherited, a notaire will draft the act, record it, levy the appropriate taxes (such as inheritance taxes), and deliver the deeds of property. In addition to handling real estate transactions, a notaire will also assist with closing bank accounts, settling unpaid bills, and disposing of personal property through sale or donation. In the event a decedent did not leave a will, a notaire will be responsible for identifying and locating heirs, sometimes with the help of genealogists. Physical presence of an heir in France is not required to settle an estate.
The services of a notaire must be retained if the deceased U.S. citizen owned real estate or left an estate valued at more than 5,000 Euros. However, under certain circumstances heirs may be able to access a decedent’s rented property and take possession of the contents. In this case, the heirs would need to communicate directly with a landlord or rental agency to make arrangements.
The Embassy has a list of English-speaking notaires in Paris (below). For more information regarding notaires, their roles, their fees, or locating a notaire in other regions of France, please visit the official French website for notaires, in English, here.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How are notaire fees determined?
The fees of the notaire are determined by the French government and are payable once the notaire’s services are complete.
Are burial or cremation costs considered as part of the estate settlement?
The funeral home can use up to 5,000 Euros from the deceased’s bank account to cover costs related to burial or cremation.
Do I have to travel to France to settle an estate?
Physical presence in France is not required to settle an estate. If official signatures are required on French legal documents, heirs can visit the nearest French consulate for assistance.
How long does it take to settle an estate?
Each case is unique, but heirs should expect the process to take several months at a minimum.
What are the potential tax liabilities for me as an heir?
The notaire will declare the estate to the fiscal administration, which will determine the amount of taxes to pay.
If my relative did not own real estate in France, and the estate is valued at less than 5,000 Euros, am I still obligated to retain a notaire?
No. If desired, heirs can waive an estate by going to a French court. A notaire can advise on this.
What can I do without retaining a notaire to claim my relative’s personal effects?
To claim a deceased relative’s personal effects, the Embassy can assist you by issuing a “certificat d’hérédité consulaire,” an affidavit notarized by a Consular Officer. Heirs should check if such a document will be accepted by the entity holding the personal effects.
Do I need to retain an attorney in France regarding a deceased relative’s estate?
A notaire is a French government-appointed public and ministerial officer who handles estate matters. Unless there is a dispute, a separate attorney is generally not required.
Brogi et Notaires Associés 8, avenue du Père Lachaise, 75020 Paris Tel: 01 43 58 29 29 Fax: 01 43 58 33 42 E-mail: email@example.com Cheuvreux Notaires 55, boulevard Haussmann Paris 75008 Tel: 01 44 90 15 01 Contact Angélique Devaux E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com Website: www.cheuvreux.fr Choné et Associés 13, rue Tronchet, 75008 Paris Tel: 01 40 17 99 22 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.bruno-bedaride.com Durant des Aulnois, Groeninck, Le Magueresse, et Vincent 10, rue du Cirque, 75008 Paris Tel: 01 40 76 80 80 Fax:01 42 56 34 26 Contact: Sylvie Durant des Aulnois E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.10rueducirque-notaires.fr N3t Notaires 3 Turbigo 3, rue de Turbigo, 75003 Paris Tel: 01 44 76 13 00 Fax: 01 40 26 11 59 Contact: Anne Guichard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: notaires3turbigo.eu Edouard Job & Guillaume Gieules 7, place du Général de Gaulle 78580 Maule Tel: 01 30 90 80 07 Fax: 01 30 90 73 65 Fax: 01 34 75 12 69 E-mail: email@example.com Lacourte et Associés 54, avenue Victor Hugo, 75783 Paris Cedex 16 Tel: 01 44 28 40 00 Fax: 01 86 95 29 42 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.lacourte-associes.eu LBMB Notaires 25 avenue Marceau, 75016 Paris Tel: 01 47 66 02 66 Contact: Suzanne Schmidt-Alric or Corinne Thierus E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.lbmb-notaires.com/en Letulle Deloison Drilhon-Jourdain 3, rue Montalivet, 75008 Paris Tel: 01 42 66 92 66 Fax: 01 42 68 62 62 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: letulle.fr Michelez Notaires 128 boulevard de Courcelles, 75017 Paris Tel: 01 56 33 80 04 Fax: 01 46 22 08 05 Contact: Patrice Bonduelle E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org Website : www.michelez-notaires.fr/en/home-en Morel d’Arleux Notaires 15 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris Tel: 01 42 60 34 60 Dedicated Tel. for English-Speakers: 06 27 58 88 44 Fax: 01 42 96 38 47 Contact: Pierre-Alain Conil E-mail: email@example.com Website: moreldarleuxnotaires.fr/en Nénert & Associés Notaires 38, avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris Tel: 01 53 93 02 02 Fax: 01 53 93 02 03 Contacts: Stéphanie Sirot: firstname.lastname@example.org Ella Grady: email@example.com Website: www.nenertnotaires.com/en Rochelois-Besins et Associés (SCP) 22, rue Bayen, 75017 Paris Tel: 01 44 09 40 00 Fax: 01 44 09 40 07 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: rochelois.notaires.fr/en