PTo prevent billions of euros from sleeping on life insurance contracts whose beneficiary clause instead of surnames and first names has the only mention “my heirs”, Eckert Act of June 13, 2014 insurance companies are required to identify the latter as soon as they are notified of the subscriber’s death.
In order to achieve this, in 2015 the insurance companies committed to using genealogists or investigators, if necessary, whose costs they bear, as they do not have the right to deduct fees from the beneficiaries. Axa thus indicates that it has entrusted them “a few hundred files in 2021”, but has “restricted searches to sixth degree of consanguinity”.
Under these conditions, it is legitimate for a genealogist “double” an insurance company, to find the beneficiary of life insurance and puncture his capital? “Nix”answers the former deputy behind the law, Christian Eckert, when asked by The world, about the next case. On 13 October 2015, Mr.me X, 73, receives a call from Guénifey’s genealogical office.
Draw on capital
Her interlocutor, authorized by a notary, informs her that she is a co-heir of a deceased person whose name he will reveal to her if she signs a “success disclosure contract”. This contract entitles him to be paid by “a percentage of net assets” of the estate“, below (…) amounts received under life insurance contracts..
Mme X negotiates a discount on the progressive scale percentages. But it does not dispute the clause which integrates life insurance into the basis of the calculation of fees. A few months later, she finds out that the deceased, a fourth cousin, was a tenant of an HLM where his contract was found. The net assets of his estate represent only… 21,413 euros. But he had taken out the life insurance with AFER for the benefit of ” [ses] heirs “has a capital of 593,217 euros.
The genealogist adds these amounts (614,630 euros) and deducts for his fee 13.4% of the total amount, or 82,755 euros. Mme X, who then considers the content of his contract to be abusive, takes legal action to have it annulled.
It reminds that life insurance is not part of inheritance (Article L. 132-12 of the Insurance Act). It was the “Godart” law of 13 July 1930, there excluded from the estate: the heirs, even reserved, cannot touch them if their name does not appear in the beneficiary clause, and it is the insurers who must search for beneficiaries, without charging a fee (article L. 132-5 of the law). insurance code).
Lost judgment: Nîmes Court of Appeal rules on June 2 (2022) that “Although the Eckert Act required insurance companies to conduct in-depth investigations of the life insurance beneficiaries, it is not certain, with respect to the degree of relationship (Fourth), that the company AFER [serait] succeeded in identifying M.me X”. And to add: “It is therefore possible, indeed very likely, that Mr.me x [serait] remained in the dark about her rights but also about her status as a life insurance beneficiary”.
Decision that Mr. Eckert finds “shocking”. While admitting that it would be appropriate to ” to support “ the law, supposed to close the problem of dormant financial assets by e.g. to specify the degrees of kinship up to which insurance companies must absolutely conduct their research.
How to calculate the “progressive scale”
The genealogist’s inheritance disclosure contract provides that the cumulative percentage applicable to the net assets is:
– 20% excl. VAT: from 1 to 50,000 euros;
– 15% excl. VAT: from 50,001 to 100,000 euros;
– 10% excluding VAT: over 100,000 euros.
The net assets are 614,630 euros, the genealogist takes:
[20 % de 50 000 euros = ] €10,000 + [15 % de 50 000 euros = ] €7,500 + [10 % de 514 630 euros = ] 51,463 euros, so a total of 68,963 euros excluding taxes, which he imposes 20% VAT, which gives 82,755 euros including tax.