A French notary’s duties and powers should not be confused with the limited powers of an American notary.
The French notary (“le notaire”) has a legal monopoly to effect the transfers of French real property and to probate estates in France. They are trained in the law in such areas and also know the French tax law relating to such fields of specialization. They are not trained to deal with American issues of law, American banks and Executors of American estates.
A French notaire may therefore ask his American client to obtain a “certificat de coutume” from an attorney admitted to the practice of the law in the United States.
(A « certificat de coutume » is what Americans call a “legal opinion”.)
If requested, we can generally prepare the needed certificat de coutume.
In most instances, a French notaire requests that his client obtain a certificat de coutume in order to deal with some of the following transnational issues:
- Transfer title to French real property, often in the event of a French-American divorce.
- Probate issues relating to a French-American estate.
- Assist in the recovery of an American inheritance by a French citizen.French real property.
- Confirmation of the authority of an officer of an American company to purchase French real property.
- Determine the applicable American marital regime.
Author: Jonathon Wise Polier
Avocat aux Barreaux de Paris et de New York
Attorney-at-Law (Paris & New-York)