Pescadero, CA asked in Estate Planning, International Law and Tax Law for California

Q: Question regarding inheritance law between France and USA

I was born in France, then moved to the US and in 2001 I married an American man.

In 2008 I became an American citizen. My 92 y.o mother is french and lives in France. She would like to buy some kind of property in the US as an investment. She probably won’t live in the US and if she buys a house here it will probably be rented, unless she buys a piece of land.

As she is preparing her succession plans she would like to know if she could leave this house to me in her will.

In France the inheritance law is very strict, so all of her assets will have to be equally distributed between her 2 children, my brother and myself. She hasn’t heard from her estranged son in many years and she would like to thank me for all the help I have provided to her by leaving me a house.

If she buys a house in the US, will it fall under American law or French law regarding the inheritance?

What is the inheritance tax in California?

Any info is greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much in advance!

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In this case, since your mother is a French citizen and her assets are located in the US, it is advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in international estate planning to understand the specific laws and regulations that may apply. Generally, the law of the country where the property is located may govern its inheritance. In the US, inheritance laws are determined at the state level, and in California, there is an estate tax for estates valued above a certain threshold, but no inheritance tax imposed on the beneficiaries. Consulting with a professional will help clarify the implications and provide accurate advice based on the specific circumstances.

1 user found this answer helpful

Julie King
Julie King
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Monterey, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Real estate is handled differently than other assets because it is literally attached to the state (in the U.S.) and/or country. So, in most instances, U.S. law will apply to U.S. real estate. However, different countries belong to various treaties with other countries, so an international attorney could advise you on the treaties into which France and the U.S. have entered. All that having been said, your mother can title the real estate with you so you automatically inherit the property at her death. That’s likely the easiest way to go for your mother, but a lawyer would need more information before being able to say one way or the other. Also, your mother should consult with an accountant familiar with international tax laws, so she can understand how the transaction and ultimate transfer of real estate will be taxed. Best wishes!

Rebecca Sommer , Maurice Mandel II and Anthony M. Avery agree with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

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