SYGENE, alliance of professional genealogists

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the trade of genealogist regulated?

No, it is not. College education can lead to it as well as private trainings, but no official genealogist’s degree actually exists. Similarly, genealogist’s fees are free or regulation and there is no such thing as a rate grid agreed across the profession.

How are genealogist’s fees calculated when asked to search for heirs?

When the genealogist’s work allows one heir to exercise one’s hereditary rights in an inheritance the existence of which he/she ignored or to prove that he/she is indeed a heir, then the genealogist’s fee is settled by contract. It can either be a contract to reveal inheritance, or a contract signed between the genealogist and the heir about hereditary rights. The sum of fees corresponds to a share of the inheritance money paid to the heir. The share varies according to the degree of kinship and the value of the paid inheritance. In no case can the genealogist’s fee exceed the amount paid to the heir. When the genealogist’s task is to verify and confirm the amount and nature of the inheritance as established by the notary, then the fees are flat. A share of this flat rate may vary in accordance to the amount of the inheritance. The fees for verifying the inheritance are paid by the heirs.

How are genealogist’s fees calculated when asked to search for historical records?

Based on the client’s request, the length of research and their geographical situation, the genealogist writes a quote using either an hourly rate, a comprehensive package or a fixed rate when the research is a one-off.

Must I pay the genealogist even if the results do not meet my expectations?

The genealogist has to provide the client with results of research as stipulated when the order was made. He/she has to do all in his/her power to reach the expected goal. That being said, the genealogist is limited by the means that exist. If it can be proven that the genealogist used the necessary means to reach his/her goals, then the entirety of the fee is due, even though the results do not match the client’s expectations.

Can the genealogist give the names and contact info of other family members?

No, the genealogist is bound by professional confidentiality and therefore should abide by the respect of privacy. He can, nevertheless, provide you contact info of willing family members. He can also forward any sort of correspondence you would like to share with members of your family. Likewise, the genealogist cannot communicate the entirety of the genealogical tree establishing the devolution of teh inheritance.

What documents should I produce so that the genealogist may enforce my rights?

  • The photocopy of a proof of ID bearing your signature (identity card, passport, driver’s license) or a certificate of your signature by a notary or the Consulate if you live overseas.
  • The photocopy of all the pages in your family record register or of all your children’s birth certificates in order that you can enjoy a rebate in inheritance taxes in case you had 3 children or more.
  • If you are not a French citizen: your birth certificate and marriage certificate.

Why does the notary request the help of a genealogist?

After having used all the warrants in his power, the notary must request the services of a genealogist when he has a doubt regarding the devolution of inheritance in order to verify, complete or establish the list of the legal heirs to the deceased. The notary has neither the training, nor the means, nor the necessary time to do this search for heirs on his own, especially as such a search request trips to other departements in France and abroad. The notary must consult the national registry of last wishes to examine whether a testament has been written. He must also investigate the known family, friends and collect useful documents such as family registers. But such information may not be sufficient to prove that the heirs claiming for the inheritance are indeed the closest relatives of the departed and that no other exist.

Why does not the notary pay the genealogist directly?

The notary commissions the genealogist in order to settle an inheritance. He cannot take the funds from the inheritance without the heirs’ agreement. Given that the hers are unknown before the genealogist’s research, the notary cannot pay the genealogist directly. He is forbiddent to do so using his own money.

What may happen if I grant proxy to a genealogist with whom I had signed a contract of revelation of inheritance or of justification of inheritance rights?

The proxy granted to the genealogist allows you to get rid of the constraints related to the inheritance process, including moving about. The genealogist will represent you as often as needed when transactions occur. He will ask your opinion regarding all appraisals, buying offers, and will request your agreement anytime a real estate property is sold as part of the inheritance. Once the devolution is complete, he will suggest an account for redistribution. If approved, the genealogist will transfer the remaining funds once all the fees, inheritance taxes and honoraries have been paid.

Must I declare as revenue the money I get as an heir?

No. Sums paid to an heir are tax-free because they provide from an estate from which inheritance taxes have already been paid to the government. These sums are absolutely tax free when they are paid to you.

What is the time length I should wait before getting my inheritance share?

Payment for an inheritance does take time, because of the many steps that have to be taken and the inevitable obstacles. You should expect to wait between six months and several years for an inheritance to be totally settled. Inheritance taxes are to be paid first, within six months from the day the heirs find out about their capacity as heirs, that it so say six months from the day they have been informed by the genealogist. Money from the inheritance is therefore allotted in priority to the payment of taxes, then to the debts incurred by the departed, and then to the notary’s fees. Finally, the heirs may get their share of whatever is remaining. In the scenario where the estate contains real estate property, it has to be sold on the market in due form (find buyers, establish sales certificates). Then only can the heir receive their share.

What is genealogy by groups of four people, ie “by quarter.”

A genealogy by “quarter” is a complete ascending genealogy which considers all the families on the father’ and mother’s sides. Example: a genealogy by “quarter” over four generations considers the person whose genealogy is being researched, their parents, their four grand-parents and eight great grand-parents.

What is patrilinear/agnatic genealogy?

Patrilinear genealogy (or agnatique/patronymique in French) is a sort of genealogy that only considers the father’s side. Example: patrilinear genealogy over four generations will consider the person whose genealogy is being researched, their parents, his grand-parents on his father’s side, his great grand-parents on his father’s side, who all bear the same name as the person whose genealogy is being researched.