commissioning and the rate of fees for services rendered
who pays for the inheritance investigation? two different renumeration models are on offer. it is up to those who contract our services to choose one of the following options.
when an agent is in charge of an estate
the agency that is in charge of an estate where heirs are unknown can commission our services and reach a service contract. the agent can be a probate court, a branch of the government administration or an otherwise elected or appointed estate administrator. in such cases we work according to a set rate on an hourly basis. expenses are not included but will be added to the invoice.
there is a certain risk in choosing this method of payment because the research can be fruitless and no heir may be found but costs are incurred and have to be paid. in various parts of germany and generally in switzerland the authorities prefer this solution despite the risks it holds. it needs to be pointed out that the costs are never paid for by the authorities who commission the research services but that the costs are taken from the assets of the estate in question. the estate is therefore diminished regardless of the efficiency and success of the research.
when heirs are found
there is another way open for the agent that holds responsibility for an estate where heirs are unknown. rather than commission directly our services the agent grants us instead an official permission to carry out the search for heirs at our own risk and expenses. this solution does not compel the agent to pay monies from the estate. it does also not entail carrying the risk of paying for services that fail the objective of finding heirs. certain parts of germany chose this path. if you wish to empower us to carry out inheritance investigations on this basis you can use our standard letter of authorisation or power and adapt it to the present requirements.
obviously we cannot run an office and accomplish work free of charge. we therefore reach agreements with the heirs as soon as we have found them and most of the research has been accomplished. our agreements state that when the assets of the estate can be dispersed and the case brought to a successful conclusion a certain percentage is payable to our office at the point when heirs receive their share of the estate. in this case the heir does not carry a risk, because the fee is only incurred when an heir receives his or her inheritance. no advance payments are necessary. our fee covers our efforts and all expenses. in addition they also include the expenses for a lawyer, if such assistance should be necessary.
the rate of our fees rests between 15% and 35% of the heir’s share. it depends on the size of the overall estate and the duration and difficulty of its determination. various courts have confirmed fees of up to 30% as appropriate and up to now there is no ruling that declares a higher percentage as unreasonable. in the usa the going rate is commonly higher and often 50%.
the calculation of the fee depends on the actual payment and the value at the time of the payment. If there are assets to an estate whose value can’t be readily determined and which the heirs want to keep rather than have them sold by us (e.g. landed property) its value will be based and determined at the point in time when this particular item was taken over by the heir(s). this method makes certain that heirs do not have to pay fees for a value or price that can no longer be achieved, as can be the case when property prices are declining.
value added tax (vat)
our fees include the value added tax (vat).