Transfer of a property as part of an inheritance: the notarial certificate of ownership

notarial certificate of ownership

What is a property certificate in the broadest sense of the term?

In France, the real estate certificate is an official document drawn up by a notary in order to demonstrate ownership of a property. It certifies that a property has been purchased, inherited or donated.

In the context of a sale, the real estate certificate acts as a provisional title deed. It is given to the buyer after the notary has signed the deed of sale, pending receipt of the final title deed, which will be sent to the buyer by post once the notary has completed the registration formalities with the Land Registry.

In the broadest sense of the term, however, real estate certificates include various types of deeds, including the notarial certificate of ownership in the case of an estate.

In English succession law this certificate would most commonly be equivalent of a Vesting Assent Document.

Focus on the law of succession and gifts:

In the context of an intestate succession or in the presence of a will, it is a notarial certificate of ownership that must be established. This allows the transfer of a property or a real estate right to the successors of the deceased (art. 29, decree 55-22 of 4 January 1955).

In the same way, in the event of a donation, the notary issues this certificate of ownership which acts as a title deed in the absence of a sale.

The certificate must also be published with the land registry of the place where the property is located, in order to update the property file. As the authentic form is compulsory for any act subject to land registration under Article 710-1 of the Civil Code, the certificate of ownership is no exception to this principle and must therefore be drawn up by a notary.

In the event of a change, a corrective certificate must also be drawn up. This will be the case in particular in the field of inheritance when the successors exercise or modify their option after publication.

What does the notarial certificate of ownership contain?

The certificate of ownership mentions the designation and the origin of ownership of the property transferred, the identity and the extent of the rights of the new owners.
It also indicates the Probate value of property which will be important to determine potential Capital Gain in the event of a future sale or donation by heirs.

In the case of an estate, it must indicate whether the estate has been accepted by the successors in title and, if necessary, specify the terms of acceptance (see page on inheritance options).

What are its effects?

As a proof of the heirs’ ownership of a property, the certificate makes it possible to carry out administrative procedures relating to the subscription of water, gas or electricity services, for example.

If the property is situated in a copropriety, the service charges advices will be updated, as well as the notice to attend the General Assemblies.

The Local Taxes (taxe d’habitation, taxe foncière) listings will also be updated in the names of the heirs.

How much does this certificate cost?

The notarial certificate of ownership is subject to a notarial fee, the percentage of which varies according to the value of the property:

  • From 0 to 6,500 euros: 1.935% before VAT
  • From 6,500 to 17,000 euros: 1.064% before VAT
  • From 17,000 to 30,000 euros: 0.726% before VAT
  • Over 30,000 euros: 0.532% before VAT

To this must be added 20% of the result obtained, corresponding to VAT on fees.

The certificate of ownership will also be subject to other costs, such as the mortgage statement and the fixed land registration tax or, if applicable, a fixed registration fee of 125 euros (BOI-ENR-DG-20-30-30-10, § 50).

In real estate matters, and when there is a question of acquisitive prescription, notarial deeds drawn up by notaries in which the declarations of persons or witnesses attesting to a notorious fact are noted, in order to replace a written deed, are also subject to the land registration tax at the rate of 0.70% (BOI-ENR-DG-20-30-30-10, § 50).

What are the deadlines to be respected?

From the date of death, Article 33 of Decree 55-22 gives successors a period of six months to contact a notary in order to wind up the succession, hence to draw up the certificate and file the Estate Duty Return. The notary then has a period of four months from the date of the request to draw up and publish the certificate.

A possibility of exemption:
The regularization of a division deed concerning all the properties making up the estate, followed by its publication at the Land Registry within ten months of the death, offers the heirs an exemption from having a certificate of ownership drawn up under Article 29 of the aforementioned decree.


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