The work carried out by our genealogists is determined by the nature of the mission entrusted to them: searching for unknown heirs or simply verifying a highly likely settlement of estate. Pérotin Genealogy Office also offers a range of additional services.
Research, disclosure and mandate
When a solicitor is to organise the settlement of an estate and there is no known heir or only some of the potential heirs are known, the solicitor can contact our office and transfer the available information to us. This process can also be carried out by a person involved with the estate or by a professional representing the interests of an individual (lawyer, agent, or official receiver).
Our genealogists then undertake research to draw up a precise list of beneficiaries. This is the inheritance rules list. In order to conduct this type of research, which is at the core of our role as genealogists, we consult civil status records and various public and private archives.
Once a list of beneficiaries has been drawn up, we do not stop there. We must then locate them, find an address for them and make contact with them, which constitutes the second stage in our work. Once an heir has been found, we offer them a contract to show their rights relating to the estate which concerns them and to inform them which relative they are receiving the inheritance from. The contract is a two-way agreement comprising reciprocal obligations (also known as a synallagmatic contract) and is essential when the heirs do not know or are no longer in contact with the deceased person.
We also offer beneficiaries the opportunity for us to represent them. Here it is a question of a contract of mandate, whereby the heirs give us power of attorney to resolve the issues specific to the case and to act on behalf of them. This is particularly useful when there are a number of beneficiaries, when there is a risk of liability, when specific processes must be carried out, etc. Our office will perform all the necessary procedures to settle the estate.
We can also draw up a contract of inheritance rights and mandate for these two services. This contract protects the heir against inheritance risks, and enables them to postpone the proceeding of penalties and interest which may be added to inheritance tax in the event of a delay. It also allows them to gain a full rebate of interest and penalties, when a declaration is filed within six months of signing the contract. When the inheritance is transferred to the heir, the fees charged by the Pérotin Genealogy Office for the share of each beneficiary will be retained, in accordance with the terms of the appointed contract.
Verification of an estate
In some inheritance cases, the list of heirs appears to be known, but cannot be certified without proceeding to a number of checks. This occurs, for example, when a family record has been mislaid or cannot be produced for various reasons (divorce, separation, etc). Our office can be contacted by the heirs, often on a recommendation from their solicitor, or by the solicitor himself to carry out these checks.
Please note that the consultation of civil status records does not provide information on lineage: an individual’s birth certificate does not include any mention of their children. The research carried out by our genealogists to verify the devolution of an estate can be complicated and can sometimes lead to the identification of heirs which were not previously known to exist.
Additional research and verifications
- Vacant properties can be hazards for communities and obstacles for developers, hindering the completion of planning operations. They are often rural properties which were considered to be of little value, have not been registered with the mortgage registry and the current owners are not known. Our genealogists are able to find them by consulting land registry, mortgage and civil status archives.
- Beneficiary clauses in life insurance policies are sometimes badly written; for example, an investigation will be necessary to find a person named John Martin where his place and date of birth have not been specified.
- Dormant accounts are more common than people realise, both in France and abroad. We intervene to find the account holders when we are contacted by a banking institution.
- Cemetery plots require regular reductions in the number of bodies, but authorisation from all descendants of a buried person must be obtained before this occurs. Families often have no knowledge of the legal claimants of the founder of plot, which may have been created over a century ago…