Roche & Cie

French Hereditary Reserve and International Public Order

16 Oct 2017

The Principle of Hereditary Reserve

On September 27, 2017, the court of cassation presented two decisions about the hereditary reserve. They state that a foreign law ignoring the principle of hereditary reservation is not contrary to the French public policy. As a reminder, the principle of hereditary reservation states thats certain heirs are entitled to a minimum share of the estate.

Such a law can be excluded only if its application to a particular case entails a situation incompatible with the principles of French law considered essential.

In this respect, the operation of the exception of international public order could be justified when the “reservists” are “in a situation of economic precariousness or need”.

A foreign law which does not know “the reservation” can therefore be applied

in France. In essence, this means that when a foreign law applies to a person’s estate, it would be possible to totally disinherit a child, even if the latter is a French resident.

This may be the case, for example, of a person who resides in a State which does not know the hereditary reserve, such as the United States, even though those heirs reside in France. The European Succession Regulation applicable to the estates of persons deceased after 16 August 2015 provides that the law applicable to the whole succession is that of the State in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of the death, whether it is a member of the European Union or not. In such a case, the law of that country shall apply.


Cabinet Roche & Cie, English speaking accountant in Lyon, France.
Specialist in Real-Estate and Non-resident taxation.