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Inquiry : the juicy business of genealogists

a Fee that is excessive, unnecessary service, the presumption of agreements with the notaries... Some genealogists in wills do not always appear as happy behind

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Inquiry : the juicy business of genealogists

a Fee that is excessive, unnecessary service, the presumption of agreements with the notaries... Some genealogists in wills do not always appear as happy behind a legacy which fell from the sky.

it All usually starts with the phone call from a genealogist. He announced to his interlocutor that he is probably the heir to a recently deceased person. To learn more, it will require that the latter sign a "contract of the revelation of succession", by which the trader undertakes to reveal to her the identity of the deceased, subject to finance. Too happy with this gift fell from the sky, the heir presumed to sign without discussion, accepting sometimes giving in to the genealogist, up to half of what is supposed to revert to him.

"All work deserves a salary... of course! But a percentage of an unknown amount, imposed by blackmail and pressure [...] is neither a salary, nor legal. [...] [The executors] are well aware that their claims are exorbitant and do not correspond in anything to the work supplied. In other words, it is theft !" These words, collected on a discussion forum, reflect an opinion widely shared. Has such a sign that, on two occasions, in 2003 and 2012, the mp Jean-Christophe Lagarde, filed a legislative proposal to submit a fee of genealogists on a scale regulatory. In his explanatory memorandum, he indicates that "the mode of remuneration of these specialists remains relatively obscure and, alas, sometimes to excess. As well, some genealogists would ask for the heirs, as of fee, 40% to 50% of their share of inheritance". No follow-up has been given to these proposals.

Always remember to negotiate fees

Antoine Djikpa, president of the Union of trade unions of genealogists professionals (USGP), relativize : "These percentages are levied on the net share of the succession, collected by the heirs, after payment of succession duties. Thus, in the most common case of distant relatives, the State takes 60 % on the gross assets. The fees genealogists are calculated on the remaining 40%, which corresponds to 16 % of the gross assets." That is, at the end, when even one-third of the net assets !

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However, there is always the possibility to negotiate. The heirs are not often aware of it, but the interest of the genealogist is to carry the signature of the contract of revelation. Failing that, it may not claim any compensation. Where certain behavior is insistent, even threatening... in the Face of a refusal of signature, the professional has the ability to bring an action in court on the basis of the management of the business (art. 1372 and following of the civil Code), which allows the compensation of a person who acted in the interest of another without having been directly mandated. The genealogist will have to demonstrate that it is thanks to his work and to his reporting to the heir that the latter has benefited from the estate. Which, to challenge, must prove that it already had knowledge of his rights in the estate.

Those who have not had the reflex to negotiate the fees prior to signing does not have, in general, no other choice than to pay. But they, too, have, in spite of everything, a way to lower the bill : the courts.

In a judgment of 5 may 1998, and then in the June 6, 2012, the Court of cassation affirms the right for judges to reduce the fees to the genealogist when they seem exaggerated in relation to the services rendered.

Often excessive, fees genealogists are sometimes also useless. Then arises the question of their relations with notaries. This is highlighted by the mp André Chassaigne in a question written April 2014 on the texts concerning the search for the heirs by the notary and the conditions of delegation to genealogists. "While the identification of the heirs does not present any difficulty, he wrote, or even that the list of the devolution of the estate has been conveyed by the heirs, some notaries insensitive refuse to contact each of them and make use of a genealogist, whose work is, in fact, to provide their own civil status for heirs. To do this, the genealogist commissioned by the notary deceived the heirs contacted by presenting them with a "contract of revelation", which allows him to charge a dummy service. These fees are all the more consequential as they are assessed as a percentage of the estate." The question posed to the minister of Justice draws on the case Lendeberg/Coutot-Roehrig, pending before the Court of cassation.

According to the case law, the intervention must have been useful

Stéphane Lendeberg is the son and legal guardian of Jacqueline, cousin and heir of Joan Sipp, who passed away in 2006 without descendants or direct ascendants. It is informed by Raymond, his cousin, of the death of their parent and the opening of the succession. After the funeral, Raymond makes contact with the notary, in which he gives a genealogical study on the family Sipp and indicates the names of the living heirs : his two brothers and his cousin Jacqueline. On bad terms with his brothers, he entrusted to the notary in the care of inform.

subsequently, Raymond, his two brothers, and Jacqueline (by the intermediary of his guardian, Stéphane Lendeberg) receive a letter from the society of genealogy, Coutot-Roehrig their penny - putting a contract for the revelation of succession. This that was accepted by the brothers of Raymond, but not the latter, nor Stéphane Lendeberg. The cabinet of genealogy then sued the two "recalcitrant" on the basis of the management of affairs, that is to say, of the work conducted in their interest, and for which he required compensation. In regards to Raymond, the company has been dismissed by the tribunal de grande instance, and then by the court of appeal, which considered that it was not able to demonstrate the usefulness of the service in revealing the succession as the heir was already aware of.

On the other hand, the decisions are less favorable to Stéphane Lendeberg: tribunal and court of appeal felt that the society of genealogists has rendered a service to Jacqueline that she was actually informed of his quality of heir. They point to the fact that his son does not provide any evidence, on the one hand, that his mother had retained links with the parent who is deceased and, on the other hand, she was aware of her legacy before the intervention of the genealogy society. In addition, the judges consider that the elements provided by their cousin Raymond at the notary are not sufficient to identify Jacqueline as parent and heir. Nevertheless, the two courts to reduce the fees to fix them to 10 % of the part of Jacqueline, or € 6 000 instead of 24 000 euros requested (40 % of the 58 000 euros, which returned).

Stéphane Lendeberg cassation. The decision of the Court is expected sometime in march. While the 15 January last, the response of the minister of Justice to the question of André Chassaigne is dropped : "It is not intended to underwrite the compensation of the executors of the estate."

The obligation of the notaries to seek the heirs

In any event, in the case Lendeberg/Coutot-Roehrig, rather than to seek the intervention of the cabinet of genealogy was useful, the court of appeal would have been able to overcome the lack of awareness by the notary public of its obligations. It is up to him to establish the parentage of the heirs to the sixth degree. As a result, it must resort to a genealogist after you have carried out the investigations specific to the identification and location of these heirs. Which is useless when it has their names and their kinship relationship with the deceased. From there to the assumption that commissions paid to notaries by the genealogists, there is only a step.

While acknowledging that "the practice of patronage was formerly of use," Philippe Caillé, director of ethics and professional conduct to the higher Council of the notariat, insists on the virtues of the partnership convention signed by the notaries and executors in 2008, currently being updated : "The convention prohibits rebates and gifts, individual and collective, such as the organization of travel. On the other hand, genealogists bring material aid to the training of young notaries : room rental, donations of supplies, organization of conferences, etc. In exchange for the removal of their "largesse", genealogists have had to accept the support of all the folders, even modest." We would like to believe. But the opacity is cultivated by genealogists maintains the doubt.

Testimony of Robert : "I had to involve a lawyer -"

"After a telephone call, the genealogist in me has been revived several times by mail, including a registered letter for me to sign the contract of revelation, what I did in April 2012. It provided for a fee of 30% and 40% HT of the net assets according to its amount, and the degree of kinship with the deceased. Me, I knew after, I situais in the slice to 40 % : net assets of less than € 15,000 and relatives to the fifth degree. At the end of may, the genealogist pointed me to the name of the deceased of which I was a parent, and the nature of heritage in vague terms : "cash" assets, and "current" for the passive. His letter was accompanied by a power of attorney to represent me in the estate. But in June 2012, he informed me that, "in the light of the latest information obtained by the notary, the active being too modest, we end our contractual relationship". No news, in September 2013, I had to involve a lawyer. A month later, I received a cheque of nearly 1700 euros, with an account of the winding-up in white! It took my lawyer is getting closer to the notary to get the details of the estate."

Testimony of Michael : "Nobody has spoken to us insurance life"

"In December 2010, my father received a letter from a genealogist, informing him that he was probably a beneficiary of an inheritance. He knew that his aunt, residing in the neighbouring village, had died in march 2010. Yet, he signed the contract of revelation, providing 25 % of fees for the genealogist. When he knew that it was his aunt, he has made direct contact with the notary public, which stated that the assets consisted of 20000 euros in the bank. My father dying in his turn, under the pressure of a genealogist, my mother, my two sisters and I have dû to represent him in the succession. In December 2012, I conducted research and found four contracts of life insurance entered into by the aunt of my father, about which neither the notary nor the genealogist did not want to provide me with items. They included at total of 270000 euros, of which two, more than 170,000 euros, entered in the estate for lack of beneficiaries! There were other heirs. The notary has finished by to pay us the share that was due to us, around 15,000 euros to be shared in four after deduction of 3500 euros for the genealogist. Which we only showed what we already knew, and without any deductions."

Testimony of Robert : "I had to involve a lawyer -"

"After a telephone call, the genealogist in me has been revived several times by mail, including a registered letter for me to sign the contract of revelation, what I did in April 2012. It provided for a fee of 30% and 40% HT of the net assets according to its amount, and the degree of kinship with the deceased. Me, I knew after, I situais in the slice to 40 % : net assets of less than € 15,000 and relatives to the fifth degree. At the end of may, the genealogist pointed me to the name of the deceased of which I was a parent, and the nature of heritage in vague terms : "cash" assets, and "current" for the passive. His letter was accompanied by a power of attorney to represent me in the estate. But in June 2012, he informed me that, "in the light of the latest information obtained by the notary, the active being too modest, we end our contractual relationship". No news, in September 2013, I had to involve a lawyer. A month later, I received a cheque of nearly 1700 euros, with an account of the winding-up in white! It took my lawyer is getting closer to the notary to get the details of the estate."

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Testimony of Michael : "Nobody has spoken to us insurance life"

"In December 2010, my father received a letter from a genealogist, informing him that he was probably a beneficiary of an inheritance. He knew that his aunt, residing in the neighbouring village, had died in march 2010. Yet, he signed the contract of revelation, providing 25 % of fees for the genealogist. When he knew that it was his aunt, he has made direct contact with the notary public, which stated that the assets consisted of 20000 euros in the bank. My father dying in his turn, under the pressure of a genealogist, my mother, my two sisters and I have had to represent the estate. In December 2012, I conducted research and found four contracts of life insurance entered into by the aunt of my father, about which neither the notary nor the genealogist did not want to provide me with items. They included at total of 270000 euros, of which two, more than 170,000 euros, entered in the estate for lack of beneficiaries! There were other heirs. The notary has finished by to pay us the share that was due to us, around 15,000 euros to be shared in four after deduction of 3500 euros for the genealogist. Which we only showed what we already knew, and without any deductions."

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