The forms found in notarial deeds are not always clear and sometimes require explanation.

This page has been designed to allow everyone to better understand the terms used by the notaries and employees of Etude 352.

  • Apostille

    In order to be able to move around abroad, the French public documents must initially be the subject, except in the case of an exemption, of an apostille or legalization, to confirm the veracity of the signature and the quality of the signatory.

    The apostille, provided for by the Hague Convention dated October 5, 1961, is a unique simplified formality: it consists, after verification of the quality of the seal and the signature of the author of the document, in the affixing on the act itself of a stamp, conforming to a model annexed to the aforementioned convention. The issuance of apostilles (and legalizations) has been profoundly modified to relieve the general prosecutors of the courts of this formality for the benefit of the notary (with some exceptions) and to dematerialize the procedure.

  • Authentic act

    A writing established by a public official (a notary for example), on paper or electronic medium and whose affirmations are authentic until registration of forgery, which means that the act is authentic until proof of the contrary to facts which have not been personally observed by the public officer. The other feature of the authentic act is that it is automatically enforceable.

  • Authentic will

    A deed received by two notaries or a notary and two witnesses. It is dictated by the testator, written by the notary, then read to the testator. People who cannot express themselves in French, or who can write French but cannot speak, or who can neither speak nor hear, nor read nor write, can use this type of will, with the help of an interpreter and the notary.

  • Bare-ownership

    It is one of the elements of the right of ownership of an asset, the complement of which is the usufruct. This right allows its holder to legally dispose of the good (for example to sell) but does not confer on it either use or enjoyment, which are the prerogatives of the usufructuary over this same good. For tax purposes, the value of the bare ownership corresponds to a portion of the value of the full ownership fixed according to a scale, which is established by reference to the age of the usufructuary.

  • Devolution certificate

    Determine which heirs or legatees will inherit the estate. After the probate certificate (acte de notoriété) has been signed, the notary issues a devolution certificate to the heirs. This document is required by banks to release funds.

  • Handwritten will

    A document written in full, dated and signed by the testator. The signature must follow the content of the will, otherwise it is invalid.

  • Life annuity

    Is a right which retains the possession during his life, but the benefit of which does not pass to the heirs (a life pension for example).

  • Minute

    Original copy of a judgment or notarial deed, which must be kept by the authority that received the deed.

  • Private deed or « private agreement »

    Act which is only composed of the signature of the parties to the contract, and, where applicable, of their advisors. It opposes the authentic deed received and signed by a public officer.

  • Probate certificate

    A deed drawn up by a notary to establish the existence of a right (often in the presence of witnesses attesting to well-known facts). In inheritance cases, this is generally the first deed signed to establish the devolution of the estate, i.e. who the heirs are.

  • Quota

    This designates the portion that belongs to a person while distributing a whole (real estate or capital for example).

  • SCI

    A form of French company constituted for the management of real property brought to the company by the partners or bought by the company itself. The company has to be composed of at least two partners.

  • Spousal maintenance

    A lump-sum payment intended to compensate, as far as possible, the disparity in everyday life conditions created by the breakdown of the marriage between the divorced spouses. Payment is made either in the form of a sum of money, by the allocation of property or by a temporary or lifetime right of use, habitation or usufruct.

    In some cases, where the creditor’s age or state of health prevents them from providing for their own needs, the judge may award compensation in the form of a life annuity.

  • Survivor’s pension

    Pension paid to the spouse and/or ex-spouse of a person who had acquired rights to a pension or to a benefit from old-age insurance during his lifetime.

  • Tax allowance

    A reduction in the tax base, so that only a reduced amount is taxed. The result would be the same if the tax rate had been reduced directly.

  • Usufruct

    It is one of the elements of the right of ownership of a good, the complement of which is bare ownership.

    The holding of the usufruct confers on its holder the right to use a good owned by another person and to reap the fruits (to receive rents for example), but not to dispose of it (for example to sell), which belongs to the bare owner. On the other hand, the usufructuary can dispose of his own right, i.e., he can assign his usufruct or renounce it.