CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Estate planning and marital breakdown are two scenarios where assets are distributed among heirs or spouses. We call these scenarios family wealth arrangements. They concern mainly property-owning classes, i.e. people who own their housing, real estate, company, or financial assets. Courts and legal disputes are not the main site where family wealth arrangements take place. In France, the main legal professionals involved are not judges, but lawyers and notaries (notaires). Like their clients, these legal professionals belong to the property-owning class, even if there is a great diversity of positions and social trajectories in these groups. In this article, we show how notaries and lawyers can play with family and tax law behind closed doors. They don’t provide the same quality of service to all their clients. We show how wealthy families and their counselors have the power to blur the distinction between what is legal and what is not, in order to minimize wealth, in the eyes of the tax administration. Thus, legal professionals play an active part in the production, legitimation, and concealment of these mechanisms of class inequality. Second, we show how, through these processes, they provide men with more advantages than women.

Uploaded on on 30/11/-0001
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