Power of attorney

Heirs are often surprised by the intervention of Probate Genealogists – isn't it the Notary Public's job to find them?

As opposed to other countries, France has no centralised archive for finding a person's address from their civil status; subsequently, even if the Notary Public has the family records book, the estate cannot be settled without the children's contact details.

In turn, alongside birth certificates issued by the public records office, there is no entry stating the possible posterity of an individual meaning that, in the absence of a family records book, a person's descent may be unknown.

If it is this way with the direct line, it can easily be understood how difficult it can be when trying to establish the rights of brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces and, all the more so, cousins six times removed who may be entitled to inherit corresponding to cousins descended from siblings.
Except in the archives sometimes kept by the Notary Public on the family, it is not the latter's task to seek out genealogy involved in the devolution; it is the Genealogist who travels to archive centres and town councils around France or other countries, where required, to methodically and patiently put together the jigsaw allowing them, responsibly, to attest to the final result.

When a genealogist contacts an heir, and if a verification set fee has not been agreed beforehand with the known beneficiaries, they generally propose an agreement which allows the professional's payment to be set when the estate is settled; this agreement is often presented in one of the two ways set out below; it is almost always accompanied by a power of attorney proposition.

The Tracing Agreement : 
It is customary in the profession to propose to heirs unaware of their rights to reveal the origin in exchange for payment calculated as a percentage of the net assignment due to them.

The tracing contract further guarantees to heirs the total absence of financial risk and includes that of estate deficit; it may not be offered to heirs already in contact with the liquidating Notary Public.

The Evidence Agreement : 
An evidence agreement may be offered to heirs aware of the origin of their rights but who are unable to demonstrate their validity or who find it difficult to offer proof.
Genealogist payment is calculated as a set percentage of the net assignment due to the heirs from the estate; this percentage is set jointly, based on the importance of the service provided.
The evidence agreement further guarantees to heirs the total absence of financial risk and includes the risk of estate deficit.

Power of Attorney  : 
When the payment calculation method for the Genealogist is agreed, the latter proposes to represent the heirs throughout the liquidation proceedings; the heirs receive a power of attorney form authorising the Genealogist to intervene, as agent, in all proceedings for estate settlement.

In accordance with the ethical guidelines accepted by members of the Chambre des Généalogistes Successoraux de France (Chamber of Probate Genealogist of France), this general power of attorney in no way exempts the Genealogist from consulting all represented beneficiaries on all major proceedings and, in particular, those concerning the sale of property and goods.
The signature of this power of attorney usually has to be legalised at the heir’s local Town Hall.


Article 1984 + jurisprudence