Buying a property in France should be an exciting process, but it can also be very daunting. One of the best ways to avoid any pitfalls and protect your investment is to make sure that you instruct an appropriate and trusted English-speaking French Lawyer.
Choosing a French Lawyer
Choosing the right French lawyer is a very important decision. It is strongly recommended that you instruct an independent English-speaking lawyer who has experience advising international clients in relation to property purchases in France.
Your French Lawyer should:
- Be independent. By this, we mean that the Lawyer is not connected in anyway to the estate agent, developer or seller. An independent lawyer will therefore be working to look after your interests and not the interests of the estate agent or developer. Therefore you should find your own lawyer rather than taking recommendations from the estate agent or using their ‘in house’ lawyers.
If you would like details of an independent English-speaking French property lawyer – we can help! Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
- Speak English. Unless you are a fluent French speaker your lawyer should be English-speaking. You need to know that you will be able to ask a question that your Lawyer can fully understand and answer correctly with an answer that you fully understand. There is no point in paying for advice that you don’t understand.
- Have insurance. You should also check that your lawyer has adequate Professional Indemnity Insurance to ensure that you are covered should any problems arise as a result of their advice.
Total Buying Abroad only recommends experienced French property lawyers that have expertise in advising international clients with regard to property purchases in France. They also have appropriate insurance and can speak English and French. All advice that they provide is in English.
Why should you instruct a Lawyer to buy a property in France?
By instructing an English-speaking lawyer you will have a better understanding of the property, the process of purchasing property and be able to avoid any problems before they arise.
Your French lawyer will:
- Advise you in relation to the buying process and the obligations of each party.
- Check the property title and carry out other checks and searches on the property before you sign any contract and are bound to the purchase.
- Review the purchase contracts to ensure that everything is as it should be and that your position is protected.
- Provide advice about any inheritance and tax issues that may affect you. This is particularly important in France where they have a rule of ‘forced heirship’, requiring that upon death of an owner, a persons property or share in a property is inherited in prescribed proportions between children, surviving spouse and other family members as set out in law. This can create problems for several families and advice should be sought from an experienced lawyer to ensure that all of the information is understood. They will also be able to help prepare an appropriate will to cover the property and help you to arrange the succession of your property in a way that works best for your family.
- They are also able to assist with other practical matters such as setting up a French bank account or setting up the utilities on a property after purchase.
Investing the relatively small cost of instructing a recommended independent lawyer could end up saving you a lot of money and stress in the long run and can give you peace of mind.
What is the role of the Notaire in France?
A French notary (Notaire) is a legal representation of the French Government. Whilst they are part of the legal profession, it is important to ensure that you do not confuse the role of your lawyer with a Notaire.
The role of the Notaire in France is to oversee the property transaction, to collect the appropriate taxes and to register the property with the French Land Registry. They do not act on behalf of the buyer or the seller so therefore you should instruct your own independent Lawyer to advise you specifically in relation to your property purchase and related issues.
Do I need to give my French Lawyer a Power of Attorney?
If you are not going to be in France during the whole of the purchasing process, it is common to provide your Lawyer with a Power of Attorney. This is a legal document that gives another person authority to act on your behalf, for example to sign a property purchase contract.
Whilst this is a common practice for many people, especially those purchasing property abroad, giving somebody else a Power of Attorney, gives them significant power to act on your behalf. Therefore you must be comfortable that you fully understand what you are agreeing to and that you are happy with the wording of the document.
Your Lawyer will usually be able to prepare the Power of Attorney document and it should be written in French and English unless you are completely fluent in French. The document will need to be signed in front of a Notaire in France or a Notary public in the UK. (We can provide details of either a French, English-speaking Lawyer or a Notary public in the UK, please contact us and we will be happy to assist)
For details of a recommended French lawyer who can help you with your property purchase in France contact Total Buying Abroad on 01244 478911 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about buying property in France, download our free guide.