Interim report on new French trust law; angst and action

October 28, 2011

The worrisome new French law that sets out a comprehensive set of rules with respect to the reporting and taxation of trusts, has already partially taken effect and will be in full force and effect on 1 January 2012.   The new rules are still not totally clear; we are awaiting clarification on some points by the tax administration.  Despite scattered reporting in the press and a raft of website commentaries, as well as my own detailed Memo distributed to clients and others whom I felt would be interested, there has been relatively few inquiries from clients with existing trusts (or who are beneficiaries of trusts or future beneficiaries of testamentary trusts created, for example, in their parents’ will), concerning how the new law will impact on their French reporting and tax obligations as from 1 January 2012.  An explanation for this may be that the law slipped by them during the halycon days of summer and, additionally, I intuit that many are just not ready to consider its full implications.   For those who have responded, actions being considered range from unwinding the family trust entirely (to the extent possible or practicable), requesting parents or others to revise their wills to take out any trust provisions that would affect a French fiscal resident, to simply disregarding the new rules (not recommended), and even to leaving France if there is no other alternative.  There are not many viable alternatives at this point.  Hopefully, as we give more thought to the new law, as clients discuss their own unique fact situations (which may help us to conjure up some creative ideas) and, just possibly, if the French legislature  design some safe havens or other options, ways of dealing with this impending disaster will emerge.  For now, though, no one affected by the new law should hesitate to take appropriate.   Again, you may request a copy of my Memo concerning the new law at