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When a person dies, their estate is administered by a notary appointed by the heirs or by the deceased person themselves. The notary must prepare a probate certificate (acte de notoriété) that establishes the existence of heirs in their order of succession, as well as whether or not there is a will (whether handwritten, international, or prepared by a notary). Once an inventory has been made of the deceased’s assets and liabilities, the notary files an inheritance tax return (declaration de succession) with the tax authorities and prepares a document dividing the estate among the heirs prior to its distribution. The heirs may not agree on the content of this tax return, on the document dividing the estate, or, on its distribution.

Bornhauser works closely with notaries throughout the estate administration process providing assistance and advice to heirs. Trained in the technique of reasoned negotiation, we try to reach consensus among family members and if necessary write up family agreements (pactes de famille), which may require court approval. But we also support our clients and represent them in the event of litigation in connection with the distribution of the estate, reduction of excessive gifts, infringement of the forced heirship rules, challenges to wills, etc.