Finding a will or inventory such as those described in two earlier posts is not difficult if one follows the very precise procedures. There is a distinct process for recording successions (inheritances) in post-Revolutionary France. When a person dies:
1. His death is recorded in the local mairie (town hall) in the civil registrations as an acte de décès.
2. His death is recorded in the Registre de Successions (Register of inheritance). In smaller towns, this will be done at the mairie. In Paris and other large cities, there are separate offices, Bureaux de Successions, for the various arrondissements (boroughs). This also records if there were a will or not, and the names of any heirs. Later, the date of probate is added.
3. There is also a probate book, the Registre des Déclarations or the Registre des Mutations par Décès (Ownership Changes due to Death). These will give the full amount of the inheritance, the names of the heirs, and how much was paid to each. It will also give the date and place where the will was made, and the name of the notaire who made it. This enables the location of the will, by finding the notaire’s minutes (documents or records) for that date in the archives.
4. Look through the box and read the will to find if an inventory of the person’s entire estate may not have been done.
Enjoy the hunt!
©2011 Anne Morddel