We are endeavoring to locate a beneficiary who is trying to remain anonymous, as her deceased husband’s interest in a Jersey bank account held jointly with her is subject to French forced heirship rules, the result being that there will be an adjustment to the assets she is entitled to benefit from in France. She was living in France, but the children suspect she has moved back to England as the home has been abandoned. If members could recommend firms in both England and France that specialise in tracking down unwilling beneficiaries, we would be very grateful.
Secondly, it appears the widow (as usufruitier) hasn’t insured the French house, and the children haven’t had any success insuring the house due to being New Zealand residents. Do members have suggestions or contacts to assist with arranging insurance?
Lee Harris, Martelli McKegg, New Zealand
‘Estate Research specialises in tracing next of kin and missing heirs to estates We work with local authorities, NHS trusts & hospitals and our Private Client department provides a range of legal services to Wills & Probate solicitors.’
While I haven’t instructed them myself, they provide excellent training to Private Client lawyers through free webinars and always seem to know what they are talking about.
Thank you Suzanne - this is very helpful.
This may not help. The widow may argue, correctly, that the provisions and mechanisms of the ius accrescendi - under the Jersey law governing the movable asset - do not entail a succession to the joint account as the amount passes automatically and immediately on death to the other surviving joint owner. I assume that there was no will. The fact that your clients’ deceased father may have been domiciled or domicilié elsewhere (e.g. France) at his death does not change the law applicable to the account. The survivorship to a Jersey joint account does not function in the same manner as for example an English or a French account.
The légitime remedy is only available where the decease is domiciled in Jersey.
Whether or not the French succession would enable a rebalancing when the money does not enter the succession is another issue. The French fisc could try to deem it to be subject to succession duty perhaps but that is not the end of the matter.
However, this might help. If the House is uninsured your might try arguing that the usufructuary has committed a breach of the requirement to look after the property and to have forfeited their right in rem to it. I will not go into that here.
Insurance: I have found Allianz to be helpful in organising insurance. As you have not provided any details as to the location of the property for reasons of confidentiality you might try:
Julien Pierre DAUBY
or his assistant
Chargée de Clientèle
22 avenue de la Paix & 10 Rue de La Tour
87120 Eymoutiers 87110 LE VIGEN
Tél :+ 33 5 55 69 10 34 Tél : + 33 5 55 05 05 73
e-mail JULIEN-PIERRE DAUBY (Agents Allianz FR) email@example.com
who may be able to guide you to a colleague elsewhere in France if he cannot handle the matter himself.
All the best
Merci beaucoup Peter. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this all plays out. Trying to resolve conflicting laws is always a challenge, particularly when the estate is not large.
CAN i ALSO SUGGEST THAT AS REGARDS TRACING HEIRS, YOU CONSIDER FRASER & FRASER IN LONDON? THEY CARRY ON BUSINESS FROM 39 HATTON GARDEN. THEIR SALLY MORGAN AT: SALLYMORGAN@FRASERANDFRASER.CO.UK CAN PROBABLY BE A STARTING PERSON TO HELP.
PETER DOUBLE / PROBATE RESEALING SERVICES
Thank you Peter. I am very appreciative of the suggestion.