I DISCOVER THAT I AM THE HEIR TO AN ESTATE
A relative of yours, whom you may not know, has passed away, and you are unaware that you have a rightful claim on his estate. Since he has not met the heirs and he may not know their address or even whether they exist, the notaire (French public officer) in charge of the succession commissions a genealogist who, after an extensive investigation, has identified you and is now contacting you.
The search for heirs is slow, meticulous work, consisting in drawing an exhaustive list of heirs starting from the name of the deceased. Civil status registries, population censuses, registration archives, local surveys, the genealogist resorts to all of these means. He then reconstructs the family tree in its legal reality. His concern is not only that of locating living heirs, but also that of ensuring that no other heirs, whether forgotten or ignored, exist.
Thus, the genealogist enters the lives of families, sometimes discovering hidden children or buried secrets.
This work takes the form of a large genealogical chart that will be appended to the notarial deed.
The notaire may simply not know you or how to locate you. If no heir comes to him, or if he lacks sufficient proof that those who do present themselves are the only ones, he must, in good conscience, call on a genealogist, but he is not required to replace him, because their two professions are quite different.
Moving to town halls to consult civil status or to archives to check out population censuses is the genealogist’s task while, on the other hand, the notaire drafts the deeds. Some investigations may require frequent travel, both in France and abroad,
The genealogist is specialized in the study of families and can therefore carry out an investigation. The search for heirs requires the mobilisation of investigators with experience in this meticulous work. Most procedures require the expertise of professionals with administrative authorizations that grant them access to civil-status registers.
The genealogist sends you an estate-disclosure contract for the very purpose of disclosing your rights. The origin of the estate, the amount of the inheritance, your quality as heir: all of these are part of the revelation. This information is communicated or confirmed to you as soon as the genealogist has received your agreement.
This contract sets the genealogist’s remuneration and offers you a guarantee of successful conclusion to the investigation that will protect you against any inheritance risk. The contract assures you that you will not have to pay any amount other than the fees strictly defined in this contract. Above all, this agreement protects you against any financial risk, including that of an insolvent estate.
The genealogist is remunerated with the consent of the heirs. This is why he must first obtain your agreement, so that he bay collect his fees for the service he has rendered you by identifying you, locating you, and making you aware of your inheritance rights.
If he has no assurance of being paid, the genealogist is not required to communicate your details to the notaire because, were he to do so, he would be working for free and would not be compensated for his efforts.
- Descendants in a direct line
- All offspring, whether legitimate, born out of wedlock or adulterine, have the same rights
- Privileged ascendants (father and mother) and privileged collaterals (brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, grand-nephews and grand-nieces), etc.
- Ordinary ascendants (grandparents and great-grandparents).
- Ordinary collaterals up to the 6th degree (Civil Code, Art. 745): uncles and aunts, cousins in the 4th, 5th and 6th degree.
After the investigation comes the revelation. When the last heir is found, we send a letter to the beneficiaries to reveal the origin of the estate.
We also send them a power of attorney, ensuring they can be represented throughout the process.
If the genealogist has offered you an estate-disclosure contract, it is because the estate provides a benefit: otherwise, the notaire would not even have commissioned him, since there would be no way to remunerate his services. Whatever happens, the contract protects you against any risk, including that of liabilities. Each year, our Firm takes out insurance that covers our various interventions. Thus, if an heir has been forgotten and his share must be repaid, if debts have not been taken into account, your protection is guaranteed. This is why the genealogist’s fees are proportional to the estate assets. The greater these are, the greater the risks the genealogist incurs.
The signing of the estate-disclosure contract does not commit you to accept the estate. Only once the name of the deceased has been revealed and the value of the estate has been estimated can you decide whether to accept or waive the inheritance, once you are in full possession of the facts. Acceptance only occurs when the inheritance declaration has been signed with the tax authorities.
The signing of the estate-disclosure contract simply commits you to pay the genealogist a percentage of the assets in the event of success. In exchange, the genealogist has the obligation to “disclose” your rights in the estate, to you: whom you are inheriting from and in what proportion. Should you eventually waive the inheritance, the estate-disclosure contract becomes null and void.
It is through the signing of a power of attorney that you give us the power to settle the estate on your behalf. Andriveau is committed to representing your best interests throughout the settlement of the estate. This is done at no cost to you.
In this fashion, the notaire will have only one person to deal with, the genealogist, commissioned to represent all the heirs. The latter are thus spared the follow-up of the settlement, such as expenses, travel, etc.
Thereafter, the file to which the genealogical chart is appended is sent to the notaire, to proceed with the settlement of the estate.
SETTLEMENT OF THE ESTATE IS UNDERWAY
The settlement of an estate consists of a number of key steps:
- The signing of the notarial deed
- The inventory and sale of the furniture
- The valuation of the property; the certificate of ownership and the sale of the property
- The closing and collection of bank accounts, cash, securities, life insurance…
- The payment of liabilities,
- The drafting and signing of the inheritance declaration, and the payment of duties.
- The preparation of the accounts after receipt of those funds collected from the notaire
- The distribution of funds among the heirs, after obtaining their agreement
The goal is that you, as an heir, may take possession of the funds rightfully due to you as soon as possible.
It is a deed drawn up by the notaire that sets out the rights of each of the heirs. Notably, it contains: the complete identity of the deceased, the existence or not of last wishes (will, donation between spouses), the descendants, that is to say the complete identity of each heir, the filiation link and degree of kinship of each heir in relation to the deceased, and the share due to each. The signing of the notarial deed does not necessarily entail acceptance of the succession.
During the settlement of the estate, our lawyers represent you at every stage: property management, sales of real estate and securities, signing of deeds at the notaire, etc. This avoids your having to move.
As the firm is the representative of the heirs, it involves them in all the major steps of the settlement and in each important decision resulting from the process.