38 PRACTICAL: Property
LegalNotes Rebel Ferré and his chimp’s Your questions answered
Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query
Q: I plan to buy a house in France where I will live with my partner. If I should die first, I would like my partner to continue living in the home for as long as he wants although ownership will pass to my two sons in England. I thought a usufruit would do this but now I learn my partner would pay 60% tax upon my death. Would a PACS avoid this? T.G. A: A PACS (pacte civil de solidarité) is a form of civil partnership agreement. It can be between same or different-sex couples and non-French nationals must live in France before becoming PACS partners. A PACS does not create an entitlement for the surviving partner to inherit on the death of the first of you. However, it allows the same tax treatment as a married couple and would therefore ensure that any asset passing to the surviving partner would be free from inheritance tax. You could become PACS partners and make a French will giving your partner a life interest (usu-
fruit) entitling him to remain in the house for the rest of his life. Your sons will inherit the bare interest (nue-propriété), which is legal title subject only to the life interest. If you die first, your partner will be exempt from paying inheritance tax. On his death, his life interest ends and your sons own the property outright in equal shares. Some additional points: A bequest on death to a PACS partner must not impinge on the reserved entitlement of any children of the deceased. As you have two sons, they are each entitled to 1/3 of your estate. Through a will, you can leave your partner the remaining 1/3 or a life interest in the estate. In order to ensure your partner receives the life interest, your will must include a reference to article 917 of the Civil Code. Discuss this with your notaire. PACS couples. like married couples, are assessed jointly for income tax.
Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930 www.heslop-platt.co.uk email@example.com
Q: Our house heating comes from an old oil boiler and, as pensioners, the slump in the exchange rate, plus price rises. means it is harder to pay for oil to keep us warm. I have seen there is extra new aid becoming available from EDF that could help us get away from oil altogether – can you explain what it involves? J.S. A: There is, indeed, help available if you want to opt for a greener and more fuel-efficient heating system and the aid involved is significant, given the high cost of a new system. At present, aid from the state ranges from €2,000 to €3,000 for people on lower incomes who can benefit from the Coup de pouce économies d’énergie. As a couple, the maximum
earning level if you are judged to be of moderately low income (ménages modestes) is €27,200 to get a €2,000 grant and for very low incomes (ménages très modestes) €21,217 for a €3,000 grant. However, as you point out, EDF has recently said it is keen to help people who are tied to an old oil boiler and has announced extra aid to help them move on to new cleaner, greener energy. In this case, EDF is offering to increase the grant aid by 50% for people who opt to switch to a heat pump (pompe à chaleur), giving €4,500 for those on very low incomes and €3,000 for low incomes. However, it must be noted that the average price of a heat pump is €11,000.
Tel: 05 61 57 90 86 www.brightavocats.com firstname.lastname@example.org If you have a legal query send it to email@example.com We select questions for answer every edition
chateau for sale... at €4.7m by CLAIRE McQUE
The former Lot home of composer, poet and author Léo Ferré and his chimpanzee is on the market for €4,770,000. The 14th-century Château de Pechrigal – where Ferré lived from1963 until 1968 – stands three kilometres outside the village of Gourdon. Pech-Rigal means royal hill in old local French dialect, befitting its hilltop position. The 67-hectare plot includes meadows, tennis courts, a pool and half a hectare of Merlot vineyards, giving 4,000 bottles of wine a year. The chateau, a grand affair of 17 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, guard house, pigeonnier, wine cellar, restored farmhouse and two outhouses, was bought and renovated by a Frenchman in 1998. He transformed the crumbling property into a luxurious second home, occasionally used for private events and weddings. It had fallen into disrepair after rebel composer Ferré left it unlived-in for 25 years. Ferré, born to bourgeois parents in Monaco, escaped his strict Christian upbringing to live in Rome and then Paris, where he fell into intellectual life and composing music. In Paris, he hung out with the likes of André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Jacques Prévert and Juliette Gréco, whose all-black clothing was inspired by Ferré’s anarchist’s black shirt and trousers. Jolie Môme and Paris
Léo Ferré and Pépée were a fixture at Pechrigal, where the chimp helped speed the damage by throwing tiles off the roof Canaille were two of Ferré’s songs made famous by Gréco. The artist’s ardent support of the anarchists during the Spanish Civil War fed much of his creative output. His contempt for society, the church, the army and the government translated into his mixture of classic chansons, surrealist poetry and writing. Known also for the songs Avec le Temps and La Chanson du Scaphandrier (The Deep sea Diver’s Song), his lyrics were
inspired by the poets Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Apollinaire. The period Ferré spent at Pechrigal with his second wife Madeleine Rabereau and her daughter Annie was prolific. It was there he composed the album Verlaine et Rimbaud. He also wrote C’est le Printemps, recorded the album Ferré 64, and wrote the controversial Franco la Muerte. He even set up a printing press in one of the wings. Most famous-
ly, Ferré lived there with Pépée, a female chimpanzee. A 1966 documentary showed the chimp drinking soup at the dinner table and smoking a cigarette. Pépée even stripped tiles from the roof and threw them at people. Ferré considered the chimp his child and when Pépée died, he moved to Tuscany with third wife Marie-Christine, and the chateau lay unused. Kirsten Pollard of MaxwellBaynes, the estate agent managing the sale (maxwellbaynes.com), said its rich history and recent artistic links had not added any financial value to the property but “give a sense of interest and cultural value. People are interested in the story of a place”. She said Pechrigal was getting many inquiries: “It would make a great second home. It is in a beautiful, low-key area where you can live normally and escape the crowds.”
Shorter-term rental Lightning reaction a help for workers from Météo-France A NEW type of short-term, simplified and flexible contract has been created that could give home-owners the option to rent out for longer periods and avoid any negative effects of Airbnb holiday rentals. The lease, known as a bail mobilité, has been set up for people who need furnished accommodation for periods of between one and 10 months. After a maximum of 10 months, the tenant must move out, though shorter agreements may be extended up to the maximum period. Previously, traditional leases lasted a minimum of one year. The bail mobilité would be suitable for temporary workers, students, anyone in vocational training or on apprenticeship contracts, who might otherwise have had to refuse a job offer or internship, for example, because the traditional
process of finding accommodation was a problem. The lease does not require the usual two-month security deposit for a furnished property, which cuts costs for tenants with limited means. Landlords are still protected as the lease is covered by a public and free guarantee offered by Action Logement, known as the Visale. The Visale usually protects landlords for unpaid rents, but for a bail mobilité, it also guarantees to cover any damage caused by the tenant at the end of the lease. Tenants may terminate the lease at any time, by giving a minimum of one month’s notice. Landlords do not have the same right, except in the event of a breach by the tenant. They can then bring court action to end the lease.
PROVING that an accident or damage to your property was caused by a lightning storm is easier than you might think. A lightning strike certificate supplied by the national forecaster Météo-France is an official document and is recognised by all insurance companies in France. The attestation de foudroiement accurately details storms (and associated aspects such as lightning) that occurred on a specific day in a particular area which could have caused material damage to a property or led to an accident. It provides evidence that a storm was going on at the time of an incident for which a claim has been submitted, and will confirm – or not – that lightning strikes were recorded in the area where an insurance claim has been submitted. Lightning strike data is collat-
ed by numerous sensors across France, which is then relayed to a central processor in Pau. It analyses and processes the information in real time to determine the location and characteristics of all detected strikes across France. It can be ordered at tinyurl. com/y8natxw9 and costs €61 plus taxes. Normally, you will receive the certificate within a week of applying for it – and it gives details of strikes within 20km of your home. You can choose to receive the attestation through the post or by email. For damage or accidents caused by other weather events (for example, strong wind, heavy rain, or very low temperatures), Météo-France recommends applying for its €62.50 weather certificate, le certificat d’intempérie.
France's English-Language Newspaper