The estate regulation (transmission of property by inheritance)

The French Civil Code organizes way in which inheritance is transmitted.  Article 731 of the French Civil Code stipulates:

‘” an inheritance can only be devolved to relatives and the spouse of the deceased. ‘’

1. Rules of intestacy

1st Order

  • Direct descendents
  • Legitimate and illegitimate children, , all have the same rights.

2nd Order


  • Preferential ascendants (father and mother) and preferential collateral relatives (brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grand nephews and grand nieces, etc ….)

3rd order

  • Ordinary ascendants (grandparents, great grandparents).

4th Order

  • Ordinary collateral relatives up to the 6th degree (Article. 745):
  • Uncles and aunts, cousins up to the 4th. 5 th and 6th degrees.

2. The rule of degrees

The nearness of relationship is determined by the number of generations, each generation constituting an additional degree.

Direct line

A direct line is the continuation of degrees between persons who are descended one from another, for example children or grand children. A generation represents a degree between people, thus a son is first degree from his father, the grandson is second degree.

Collateral line

The collateral line is the continuation of degrees between persons who are not descended one from another, but who are descended from a common ancestor. The degrees are counted by generation, from the relative to the common ancestor. Thus two brothers are second degree (the parents’ first degree), the uncle and nephew are third degree, first cousins are fourth degree. Collateral relatives do not inherit beyond the sixth degree.