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Will: How to write one’s last will?

The will allows you to prepare your inheritance and organize the division of your property. It is the best way to protect yourself, especially for unmarried people. Only a will can make a civil partner inherit.


Why write a will ?

A will is a document in which an adult person makes decisions and specifies his wishes for the period following his death.

Through will, it is possible to:

  • organize the distribution of one’s assets and designate the beneficiaries (spouse, partner, child, friend or association) within the limits of what the law authorizes.
  • appoint one or more executors responsible for ensuring the proper carrying out, of one’s last wishes.
  • settle personal matters: mention the person who shall be responsible for taking care of his children, in the case of accidental death.
  • organize the funeral.
  • specify if the body shall be bequeathed to science...

What are the advantages of an authentic will ?

There are several forms of wills available, in keeping with all situations. Nevertheless, the authentic will is the safest option.

It is drawn up by a notary in the presence of two witnesses or a second notary, the authentic will shall be signed by the testator.

The notary writes it himself and the client dictates. He then reads it out and everyone signs it (except the client if he is unable to do so). An authentic will is an effective option for ensuring that the forms required by law are respected (mainly with regard to the content of the act). Therefore, the validity of this document can only very rarely be questioned.


In which cases is an authentic will obligatory?

  • If the testator cannot write, or is no longer able to write (an elderly or disabled, for example);
  • If the testator wishes to deprive his surviving spouse of his life interest on the dwelling;
  • When one wishes to recognize a natural child whose existence was hidden, through will ;
  • If the testator doesn’t speak French;
  • If the testator can write in French but is deaf;
  • And last but not least, if the testator cannot speak or hear, read or write.

What are the other forms of will ?

Sealed will

Rarely used, the sealed will has the advantage of remaining secret. Its author gives it to his notary in a closed envelope, in the presence of two witnesses. He is the only one who is aware of the content. As a consequence, the notary cannot verify its legal effectiveness. This is the major drawback of this kind of will .

Holographic will

The holographic will is the most common will . A written, dated and signed document by the testator, it is easy and not expensive.

However, it can sometimes lead to dispute (or even cancellation) when it is not drafted with the help of a specialized lawyer.


What is an international will ?

Useful for a foreigner living in France, for a French person living abroad or for the person owning property in various countries, the international will must be presented to a notary (or to a consular agent abroad), once drawn up, in the presence of two witnesses. It can be written in any language.


Which part of my assets can I transfer as my will?

Testamentary freedom has certain legal limits. Therefore, it is not possible to totally disinherit your children or, failing that, your surviving husband or wife because they are the so-called forced heirs.

As a consequences, the testator can only freely dispose of the share known as “available quota”.

  • The available quota is the share of the inheritance , which the deceased can dispose of by gift or will in the presence of forced heirs. The amount is divided in half, if the deceased leaves a child, a third if there are two children, a quarter if there are three or more children, three quarters in the presence of the spouse if no descendant.
  • The reserve is the fraction of the inheritance that must go to the children, or if there is no child, to the surviving spouse. The amount is divided in half, if the deceased leaves a child, two thirds if there are two children, three quarters if there are three or more children, or a quarter in the presence of the spouse, if there is no child.

In the absence of a child or a spouse, testamentary freedom is complete.


If it possible to write a will as a couple?

Under French law, a will cannot be made in the same act by two or more people. Therefore, a will which is drawn up by a couple or drawn up by one person and signed by both (known as a joint will) is void and cannot be applied.

Therefore, everyone should draw up their will separately.


Can one modify a will ?

The testator is free to revoke his provisions of last will at any given time. The will is always revocable through the simple desire of the person, who wrote it.

Revoke last will

The revocation of the will can be explicit (new subsequent will or notarial act) or tacit (drafting of a will incompatible with the previous one). The testator can also prevent the carrying out of a holographic will, by destroying it.

Add provisions

The testator must write an addendum known as " codicil " which must be dated and signed, in order to be valid.