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EULawyer, Lawyer
Category: French Law
Satisfied Customers: 194
Experience:  Titular Attorney (Avocat) at Ioan-Luca Vlad Law Office
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My parents are recently divorced and jointly own a French

Customer Question

My parents are recently divorced and jointly own a French property. My mother is terminally ill and I am her Power of Attorney. As part of the divorce settlement I am working with my estranged father to divide the equity of the property on my mother's behalf. He has arranged for a Notaire to value the property and it has come in extremely low - half the value of what he has it for sale for. He now wants to buy out her half at the low price. He tells me that if I stall and my mother passes away, he no longer has to give her estate her portion due to French inheritance laws. Both my parents are Australian citizens and reside in Australia. There are Australian court orders for this property to be split evenly.
My first question - is this true about him not having to continue with the sale if she passes away? Secondly, is a Notaire's valuation a valid method for the purpose of valuation for sale? He did not provide any comparisons or any explanation as to how he came to this figure. Finally, is there a company I can hire to organise a transparent valuation with actual data and to liaise with the real estate agents etc? My father is not being transparent and communicating with everyone in France on his own and I'm afraid my mother's interests are not being represented. I'm not sure what to do because of the language barrier and time difference. I don't feel we need a lawyer, more some kind of advocate if there is such a thing? Thank you!
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: French Law
Expert:  EULawyer replied 2 months ago.

Welcome to JustAnswer!
As your European Law expert, I am reviewing your question and will try to find a good answer for you.

Expert:  EULawyer replied 2 months ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your question. I am very sorry for your loss. I apologize for the delay. I am the only European Law expert on the site, and one of my main clients has passed away this week, preventing me from following the questions.

The answers to your questions are:

1. If your mother passes away, you will be her heir together with him. Therefore, as a co-owner of the property, you may in your own name force its sale. Therefore, while he will be able to stall while you ask for a sale through the French courts, in the end he must sell it if you wish;

2. Yes, a Notaire's valuation is a valid method, in fact the valid method, apart from a judicial situation. The way the notaire made the valuation is not relevant outside of a court situation. However, you may contest the valuation, as per point 3.

3. Yes, you may organize a transparent valuation, in two ways:

-> either with informative value, which you could do through any local estate agents (i.e. based in the same city where the house is). There is no company to liaise with estate agents, you have to go straight to them or through a lawyer; or

-> with compulsory value.

To make a compulsory valuation you need, acting for your mother, to bring him to a civil trial asking for a forced sale. Within the trial you can ask for a court appraiser to look at the property. The appraiser is obliged to show his reasoning, and you may contest it. The final value is compulsory for both parties.

Regarding communications, sadly there is nothing else better than a lawyer (and since I am not available, please don't take this as self-promotion). Unless you have a very good and selfless friend to undertake this for you, a lawyer is your best option. However, language should not be a barrier. Here is a list of English-speaking local attorneys, compiled by the US Embassy:

I hope my answer was useful and look forward to your rating, which is essential to my activity.


Dr I L Vlad

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Thank you very much for your response, this was super helpful. I just want to query the tax situation regarding the inheritance. I have heard that there is a high in inheritance tax in France, does this apply to people who are citizens in another country but are inheriting a french asset? If the asset is jointly owned by my father and my mother's heirs (she has 4 children), is there a higher tax to pay for her portion once the property is sold? I think this might be why he is saying that it would be in our interest to accept his (low) offer now and sell the property while she is still alive as the proceeds can be transferred back to her account in Australia without issue. Is this correct?