CITIZEN helps individuals to pass on their assets in accordance with their last wishes. Aware of the importance and sensitivity of this issue, we adopt a highly personalized approach, based on trust and mutual respect.

Maître Simon Deceuninck, founding partner of the firm, handles each case in a personalised manner, with compassion and proximity. He adapts to foreign cultures and mentalities and always makes sure his clients understand the ins and outs of their decisions.

Estate Planning & Wills

Estate Planning is the process of anticipating and organising an individual’s succession in a way that is lawful, efficient, optimised and faithful to their last wishes.

An effective estate plan therefore involves:

  • Individualised advice, so that the testator’s intentions can be precisely understood;
  • An in-depth analysis of the estate and its components;
  • A thorough knowledge of the legal framework, i.e what can and cannot be done (inheritance laws, the rights of reserved heirs, public policy, applicable tax, etc.) and;
  • Precisely drafted legal documents to avoid any interpretation issues, and anticipate disputes between heirs or beneficiaries

In more technical cases (especially international cases), we are able to:

  • Draft legal opinions;
  • Work closely with notaries, accountants, asset management advisors, independent financial advisors, foreign attorneys, barristers and solicitors;
  • Analysing each individual asset situation and advising on appropriate strategies;
  • Setting-up corporate structures, ensuring the coherence of their articles of association; and
  • Preparing tailor-made estate planning deeds in general.

We assist our clients in the drafting of their will. Depending on the specific features of each case, we propose traditional solutions (universal bequest or special share between spouses, tontine etc.) or innovative solutions (e.g. wills specifically applicable to certain asets based on their geographical location).

We always guarantee that our clients’ wills are valid in both form and substance, and then register them in the “Fichier National des Dernières Volontés”.

In addition to property and assets, there are also spiritual aspects to estate planning (funeral arrangements, religious rites, last messages, etc.) that require the utmost attention and care.

Whatever the task entrusted to us, we always offer our clients with a transparent, confidential and caring approach.

Cross-border Inheritance:

Thanks to the excellent professional network we have built (in particular our collaboration with English solicitors SO LEGAL Ltd), we have developed expertise in international inheritance law. This is how we regularly assist individuals from the UK, Republic of Ireland, the USA, Australia and South Africe with:

  • Adapting their estate plan according to their international mobility;
  • The efficient settlement of international inheritance (succession by way of a trust of French assets, obtaining foreign legal opinions…);
  • Analysis of bilateral tax treaties…

Flexibility is key here. As we deal with international cases in English on a daily basis, we take into account the specific features of foreign law (freedom of disposition, probate, trusts, etc.) and the need to reconcile them with mandatory French rules.

CITIZEN has developed a real expertise in foreign trusts, notably in terms of: the recognition of their civil effects, their French tax consequences, the compulsory declarations of trustees in France, the revocation and distribution of trust assets…

Tax Optimisation

There is no doubt that passing on the maximum amount of one’s assets (in other words, the reward for the efforts of a lifetime) to one’s heirs, relatives or charity is a legitimate goal. This legitimacy is, moreover, recognised in many respects by French tax law, which offers interesting opportunities for optimisation (allowances & exemptions, incentive mechanisms, etc.) provided they are known about and taken advantage of.

This is why we systematically analyse the tax consequences of each estate plan. This enables us to:

  • Identify ways of minimising gift or inheritance tax; and
  • Provide invaluable assistance with our clients’ tax returns.