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French connection

Henry Dyson reports on changes to French inheritance law

22 November 2002

Two sets of French citizens had reason to rejoice this year. The first are survinging spouses whose deceased spouse dies intestate after that date, and the second are those who until that date were known as enfants adulterins. These were children of a relationship in which one of the parties was married to someone else at the time of conception. Such children received a smaller share in their deceased parent’s estate than legitimate and illegitimate children. The Law of 3 December 2001 effected these changes, and as from 1 July the surviving spouse get increased inheritance rights while enfants adulterins no longer exist. Background Under French law, to be entitled to inherit, a surviving spouse must be one whose marriage to the deceased has not been terminated by divorce, a divorce petition must not be pending nor must a judicial separation have been obtained by the deceased on the grounds of the surviving spouse’s behaviour. For deaths before 1 July 2002, th...

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