Hello. In French law it is forbidden to disinherit one's child. In French law, your father is entitled to a percentage of the estate of his mother. Because he died before his mother, your father's share should go to you and your siblings.
The percentage that you and your siblings should receive can be 50% or 35 percent of the value of the apartment.
One would need to know more about your case to know the percentage.
Because your father was left out of the estate/succession and you and your siblings did not get anything, you and your siblings can contest the estate before a French court.
However, there is a statue of limitation of 5 years to contest the estate/succession starting from the opening of the succession, this is the date your grandmother died.
After 5 years there is nothing you and your siblings will be able to do.
The value of the apartment will be the value at the date of the death of your grandmother.
However, because you will be getting a percentage, the market value today will count too. The market value at death is for inheritance tax purposes. The market value today is in the event of a sale.
If you and your lawyer have not done anything before the competent French court, then there must be an unresolved problem between you and your lawyer or maybe your lawyer does not have all the necessary elements to commence a court trial.
After 5 years from december 2008, there will be nothing you can do.
I forgot to mention that the gift your grandmother gave to your aunt was an "avancement d'hoirie". In French law this is an advance of the inheritance, and if your aunt was given too much the French court can reduce the amount she was to get and give you and your siblings the amount you should have received. This is why the apartment will be included in the estate.
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I made it sound easy but there are a lot of calculations that need to done. The percentage that you and your siblings should receive can be 50% or 50% of 35 percent (or one third) of the value of the apartment. Your lawyer should ask for the maximum with interest, and the court will decide the exact amount.
Thank you so much.
I just realized also, if possible, could you shed some light on the last question?
"If we asked a french lawyer to take our case to court, how long time could we expect that to take?"
I would also be very interested in case you know of any french lawyer that also speaks English which you think could take this case. Or if you would have any suggestion/recommendation of where to look.
(accidentally double posted)
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