Succession handling (2/5): The Inheritance File

After the first appointment with the notary, he will be able to undertake several procedures in order to create an inheritance file, gathering all crucial information in one place. 

Second step: The inheritance file

Little by little, your notary will add up documentation to the inheritance file. In order to do so, he will have to contact various bodies and will probably ask the heirs for specific documents.


Check if there is a will

First of all, the notary will use the death certificate to check a database called the “Central Register of Wills” (CRT). This database is shared with similar ones across Europe. When someone deposits a will , the notary has to report it so that it can be registered in the CRT. However, the content of the will remains private and is stored in the notarial study. The notary will thus be the one to gather the heirs to inform them about the deceased person’s last will. The CRT also provides other information that may impact the settling of the succession (donation between spouses or marital agreements with specific clauses). 


If you chose not to make use of the services of a notary, note that you also have the right to consult the register freely, as long as you provide a copy of the death certificate. Indeed, such research can only be performed after the decease of the testator, meaning the one who drafted the will.


Check who are the heirs

Using the family record book, the notary will also ask for the birth and marriage certificates of both the deceased and the heirs. He will then be able to check all the information that the family gave about the heirs and everyone else who declared himself/herself an heir. If he has any doubt, the notary may ask for the help of a genealogist. Please note that there is no point in trying to conceal the existence of other heirs: it will only lead to your losing rights regarding the inheritance.


Contact the banks and insurance companies

Finally, the notary will also explore banking files so as to trace all the deceased’s bank accounts, which will be frozen. Meanwhile, he will ask the banks how much the deceased person (and possibly his/her partner) owned at the time of his/her death. He will also check if the deceased had purchased a life insurance (and who is its beneficiary) and the amount of premium paid. 


Gather all documents related to the deceased’s estate

Progressively, the notary is able to gather all documents related to the deceased’s estate. Those may be tax returns, pension remittance notices, unpaid invoices (at the time of death) as well as various receipts regarding credits, social benefits, etc. All the elements will later be useful when it comes to establishing the act of heredity. 

Check out all the articles from our series "Effective Succession Handling":

  1. Succession handling (1/5): The Notary
  2. Succession handling (2/5): The Inheritance File
  3. Succession handling (3/5): The Act of Heredity
  4. Succession handling (4/5): The Inheritance Tax Return
  5. Succession handling (5/5): The Distribution of Property