Can you disinherit your children?


The rule accorded to which one cannot disinherit one’s children must be now adjusted in an international context.. The Court of Cassation handed down two rulings on 27 September 2017 stating that "a foreign law to which the rule of conflict of laws applies and which excludes forced heirship is not, in and of itself, contrary to French international public policy and may not be set aside unless its real application to the case in question leads to a situation that is inconsistent with the rules of French law that are deemed to be fundamental". The facts were astonishingly similar in the two cases, both of which involved the estate of a famous composer who lived in the state of California for many decades and had several children with different spouses. Each composer had established a trust for their assets in accordance with California law. In both instances, the beneficiary of the trust was the surviving spouse, with no mention of a share for the children. Having established that the children claiming the right to their forced share of the inheritance as provided for by French law were of legal age the day of their fathers' death and were not claiming to be in a state of financial hardship or need, the Court of Cassation dismissed their claims. When an estate is duly subject to a foreign law which excludes forced heirship, the children of the deceased who are not deemed in need may not invoke French law to receive their forced share.

Within the context of international succession, the children of the deceased may be deprived of all rights should the foreign law which applies to the inheritance exclude forced heirship.