[Sponsored article] From the depths of the Arizona desert to the snowy landscapes of Montreal, he regularly travels the United States and Canada seeking heirs.
Frenchly interviewed Brice Roudier, a probate researcher in the international department of Coutot-Roehrig, the largest European probate research company.
He tells us about a recent case.
A Story of Heritage: From Avignon (France) to the Grand Canyon
It all began in Avignon, France, when a couple spotted a house they would like to visit and, potentially, buy. When they made inquiries to find out who the owner was, the notaire (a French attorney appointed by the Minister of Justice to act on behalf of the State) discovered that the owner had left for the United States a few years earlier and had never returned. Upon researching, the notaire realized that the owner of the house had actually died in the United States, falling, dramatically, off a cliff near the Grand Canyon.
It was at this point that the notaire sought the expertise of the international department of Coutot-Roehrig, headed by Mélissande Doehler. Brice Roudier, a probate researcher, was assigned to the case and the notaire asked him to find a death certificate so that he could open the estate and initiate the process of selling the house.
“I looked for the owner for two years,” explains Roudier, “there was no trace of him in the United States.” After talking to several people in France and in the United States, and comparing the different stories he heard, the genealogist managed to track down the deceased’s ex-wife and get her phone number. “During one of my trips to the United States, I went to meet her in the desert in California. She was raising mustangs.” describes Roudier.
Throughout the discussion, the ex-wife explained to Roudier that the deceased owner of the house in Avignon had come to the United States to win her back after a tough breakup, but that she had refused to get back together with him. “He allegedly threatened to come and assault her and her new boyfriend,” says the genealogist. To protect herself, the woman contacted an American private detective to to track her ex-husband’s movements.
The investigation continued for Roudier who learned, thanks to the file assembled by the private detective, that the man, following the dispute with his ex-wife, had stayed a few more days in the United States, during which time he rented a convertible not far from the Grand Canyon where he proceeded to throw himself off of a cliff.
Following this discovery, Roudier spoke with several park rangers in the region and finally found the one who had investigated and closed the case. The ranger gave Roudier the man’s death certificate, which would allow the notaire in France to open the estate and to start anew the process of selling the house.
Such stories, worthy of movies and a TV series, are part of Brice Roudier’s daily life.
Probate Research, or the Art of Conducting International Research
Brice Roudier has been a probate researcher at Coutot-Roehrig for eighteen years now, specializing in research in the United States and North America.
Brice Roudier can be contacted for :
- Searches for heirs
- Cases of vacant and ownerless property
- Searches for life insurance beneficiaries or undeclared accounts
- Settlements of estates
“Sometimes the only clue I have is the name of the deceased and the place where they were found. Then, I go back to the thread of their life until I find potential heirs,” says Roudier. “When I go to the United States or Canada it’s the most exciting,” continues the genealogist, “because it is where I meet people and where I see my work come to life.” While in the field, Roudier puts together, little by little, the pieces of a puzzle.
The Importance of Legitimacy During Investigations
Earning the trust and proving the legitimacy of Coutot-Roehrig’s approach to potential heirs is one of Brice Roudier’s challenges.
“When I contact people in the United States, they usually already know that they have, or had, family in France. But some are sometimes suspicious, so I have to reassure them by proving that Coutot-Roehrig’s approach is legitimate and reliable,” continues Roudier. “At Coutot-Roehrig, we have indeed worked from the beginning to have a large network of correspondents and contacts affiliated with the French consulate in San Francisco and in New York, as well as many lawyers and detectives.” This network, along with the company’s 125 years of experience, is what makes Coutot-Roehrig the leading European probate research company today.
What to Do if You Are Contacted by Brice Roudier or Someone Else From Coutot-Roehrig?
If you are contacted by Coutot-Roehrig, don’t panic: their approach is legitimate.
“Our role is to find heirs. We take care of everything.” confirms Roudier.
For reasons of efficiency and in order to find heirs, the Coutot-Roehrig’s probate researchers will have to ask precise and, sometimes, personal questions. But don’t worry because the company is subject to French law and therefore complies with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in terms of data security and confidentiality. None of your information will be communicated to a third party.
Finally, financially speaking, you will not have to pay anything. However, Coutot-Roehrig’s intervention is not free of charge: if the file is completed and an heir indeed receives his or her share, fees are deducted from the inheritance before the funds are paid out.
More About Coutot-Roehrig
Coutot-Roehrig is the most important probate research company in Europe. Founded in 1894, the company has 33 branches in France and 13 in Spain, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the United States.
For more information, please visit the company’s website.
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