The civil law notaries’ main activity is drawing up authentic acts. By authenticating agreements, the civil law notary gives them a special value that private contracts do not have: as an authentic form of evidence and as regards their enforceability.
An authentic act is compulsory for some transactions.
Drawing up an authentic act is a complex matter
- First, the civil law notary receives the individuals or companies who consult him, he advises them and suggests solutions, guides the parties in their choices, analyses with them the civil and tax-related consequences of the different solutions, and estimates the costs inherent in the operation.
- When the parties have reached their decision, the civil law notary gathers together the information needed for the act and collects the necessary administrative data.
- The civil law notary draws up the act and sends a draft to the parties.
- The civil law notary executes the act and explains it to the parties, he certifies any additional statements and collects their signatures before personally signing the act. The civil law notary commits his or her responsibility by executing the act.
- The civil law notary ensures that the subsequent formalities are accomplished (transfer to the public registers, etc.)
- The civil law notary keeps the original of the act in his archive.
An authentic act is not always necessary. Sometimes, at the parties’ request, the civil law notary draws up a document but does not sign it personally: for example, a simple loan contract between private individuals. Such an agreement remains a private contract and does not afford the same guarantees as an authentic act. By contrast, it will not be subject to the same formalities, and will not incur the same costs.
Liquidations of succession
The liquidation of a succession is traditionally entrusted to civil law notaries. The civil law notary is often consulted for drawing up the will. At the time of death, the civil law notary gets in touch with the heirs, provides the information relating to the acceptance or renunciation of the inheritance, sees to it that the heirs may take possession of the estate, proceeds with the division of the inheritance and attends to the procedures that are required to be fulfilled for tax purposes. Sometimes, the heirs entrust the civil law notary with other tasks, such as payment of invoices, collection of rents, sale of movable property, property appraisal, etc.
Consultations and opinions
Civil law notaries may provide consultations or opinions without necessarily having to draw up any act or agreement. As specialists in family law, civil law notaries may give well-informed opinions possibly requiring investigations and subject to payment.
The first advice given by a civil law notary may be free of charge.