What is France’s inheritance certificate and when do I need it?

In France, when a person dies, inheritance rules determine what happens to that person’s estate.

HAVE inheritance certificateA certificate of inheritance, or certificate of inheritance, can be used to help heirs prove their relationship to the deceased and to enable them to undertake a number of tasks related to the inheritance process.

This certificate is generally not issued if the deceased person leaves behind real estate and is more commonly used when there is no disagreement among the heirs about how the assets will be divided.

It is provided by some council offices, but alternatives are also available (see below).

What does the certificate allow?

The certificate allows heirs to undertake administrative tasks that begin the inheritance process.

In principle, it allows the heir(s) to release money from the deceased person’s bank account and pay off outstanding debts.

For the spouse of the deceased, it allows retroactive pension payments to commence and, in some cases (and where applicable), the payment of two years’ survivor’s benefit.

Finally, it allows lump sum inheritance payments to be made to heirs.

Who creates the certificate and how?

Unlike its counterparts act of becoming famous The inheritance certificate – which must be issued by a notary – is issued by the municipality (either the place of residence of the deceased or the place of death or the place of residence of one of the heirs).

The reason a notary is not required is that, as mentioned earlier, inheritance certificates are used in less complex situations, such as those not related to real estate or where the spouse is still alive (and has inherited the deceased’s property, etc.).

It is still possible for notaries to prepare a document. inheritance certificate but it is not mandatory in these cases.

An inheritance certificate can be used if the following conditions are met:

  • Real estate does not include any real estate

  • no will

  • The deceased did not have a marriage contract (this is a special document prepared by a notary, showing how property is owned in marriage – not all married persons have such a contract)

  • No major lifetime gifts to account for before

  • The value of the property is less than €5,000

If the town hall is asked to issue a certificate, the procedure is free. A notary is likely to charge between €70 – €100.

In order for the certificate to be issued, the heirs must provide the following:

  • Death certificate issued to the deceased

  • Family book of the deceased

  • Identity document of the heir(s)

It may take up to five weeks for the certificate to be processed.

A municipality may refuse to grant a bequest if it considers that the bequest is too complex and requires infamous action instead.

Another alternative is available

Some municipalities no longer issue these certificates.

In this case, or if you prefer to skip the town hall process, there is an alternative which consists of preparing an attestation yourself, signed by all heirs, which must state:

  • The deceased has no will or other heirs.

  • No marriage contract (the deceased did not have a marriage contract)

  • The person who submits this document is authorized to receive the amounts in the deceased’s account or to close these accounts on behalf of the heirs.)

  • There is no trial or litigation process regarding the determination of the heir or the inheritance to be inherited.

  • The inheritance does not include any real estate.

In this case, you must apply separately. document proving that there is no will.

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