French pensions

We act for a client who is entitled to both a French state and employment pension. In both cases payment has been stopped because our client has been unable to prove she is still alive, and the French authorities have been unwilling to accept documents signed by her attorney. Any thoughts on how we can get past this impasse?

I suggest that you contact the French Embassy in London who should be able to assist you.

Cliona O’Tuama

I agree with Cliona, but can John expand on his original post?
It rather seems as if the client may now be UK resident, and perhaps suffering loss of capacity?
Clarification would be helpful.

Our client is UK resident and living in a care home. There is an LPA in place, but this does not seem to be accepted by the French authorities as proof that our client is still alive and entitled to her pension.

Hi John,

A couple of thoughts – perhaps you can choose whichever of these is most practicable and least expensive to enact!

There is such a thing as a ‘Life certificate’ or ‘Proof of life certificate’, and I note, further to Cliona’s point, that the French Embassy does expand on these here: The life certificate (attestation d'existence) - France in the United Kingdom - La France au Royaume-Uni.

Their list of UK authorities and individuals who can issue these is all very well, but I suspect in practice you may need such a document to be prepared by a Notary Public.

I believe Notaries who issue these will usually require the person’s attendance at the Notary’s office with AML documents, and this may or may not be possible under these circumstances. You may need to ring around local Notaries to ask about this service, and whether it can be utilised for the person lacking capacity. If you can get one (presumably only possible with a home visit?), I’d suggest you have it Apostilled and officially translated, i.e. a notarised, Apostilled translation. This “should” work as it’s the closest the UK can get to the French system requirements.

I don’t know for sure, but it looks to me as though page 4 of this PDF provides the suitable wording for the certificate - though any Notary offering these would already have a template: You have to dig the English version out of the multilingual format.

My other thought is that you could try putting all the usual French bells and whistles on the documentation you already have; so for example, you’d arrange for the LPA to be Apostilled, and arrange a notarised, Apostilled translation of the LPA. For extra measure I’d highlight whatever relevant sections of the LPA particular pertain to the management of financial affairs, and include a covering letter that affirms that the person is alive. This, too, had best have a translation and may need notarising so it can be Apostilled. This all amounts to quite a lot of translation, notarisation and Apostille expense, so it may ultimately be easier to find someone who can help with option 1?..

All the best!

Louise Levene
International Asset Services Manager
Finders International

The only manner of resolving this is to go under the French yoke of proof of life. These are French pensions and that is therefore inevitable. The French pension administration like any other do not appreciate paying out money to the dead - as they have to recover it.

The French pension administrators should have sent you proof of life certificates to be filled out and attested by one of the following:

  • Local council / court
  • Registry office, civic centre
  • Local police station
  • Commissioner for oaths
  • Solicitor / Lawyer/ Barrister
  • Notary public

The general approach and procedure is set out at the following link:

If the pension providers have not sent you a form, there a link to a Cerfa form which can be used, but you may find that some pension providers will prefer their own.

You will need to contact the consulate if she is bed ridden or otherwise incapable and cannot attend on one of the certifying individuals.

Does the lady have French nationality? If she does, you may wish to go through the procedure of registering her as a French national resident in the UK at the French consulate in London. If you are able to go through that route, then the issues will rapidly become clearer in the sense that there is a procedure to follow and the Consulate staff are generally helpful.

Hope this helps et Bon courage.

Peter Harris

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I find it strange to suggest that an LPA could be used as evidence that the donor is alive, even if it were to be apostilled, etc.

As with any other document signed by an individual, for the purposes of proof of life the LPA will merely demonstrate that the donor was alive on the day the LPA was granted.

Where a third party requires proof that an individual is alive, my experience is that they will have a particular format in which such proof is to be provided. In this instance, both Louise and Peter have identified the “expected” procedure and I suspect that you will end up running around in circles if you try to do anything radically different, clocking up unnecessary expense for the client.

I appreciate there may be an issue with the donor meeting ID&V requirements if they are living in a care home, but I am sure that solicitors and other professionals have developed procedures to overcome such hurdles when taking instructions from such individuals in other circumstances, and which would be applicable when providing a proof of life certificate.

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals

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Agree with the comments above - Paul’s about LPA, has no bearing.

State pension apply Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse. Online application I think. Not sure if we have a link with their social security since Brexit.

Private then I’d seek advice from a specialist.

Richard Bishop

As a Notary, I do these all the time. They do usually require a notary, because of the overseas element, although some companies and countries will accept a solicitor and I have acted in that capacity too. They are invariably sent in standard form by the pension provider. I see the person, check their ID, they sign and I countersign/ Notarise the form, which is then returned to the pension provider. You aren’t proving that they have capacity- you are proving they are alive and still entitled to the pension. Occasionally, I have been asked to provide a separate notarial certificate confirming what steps I took to identify the person. I wonder if the form here has been misplaced or misunderstood and would go back to the provider asking for clarification of their exact requirements.

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