Friday, October 28, 2011

Chalet Shenanigans Chapter 3

The Rights of the Bloodline

The process of buying a property in France was not nearly as painful as I had expected.  Really, for me, it wasn’t painful at all because I didn’t actually do anything.  Mr. Big, on the other hand, scurried around for three months gathering copies of documents and transferring money back and forth across the Atlantic in two currencies.  To buy a house in France, the French like (read “demand”) you to use a French realtor, a French bank, a French mortgage company and, most importantly, the French Notaire.

Oh, our notaire was so cute, I wanted to ship him back to the US and send him on tour as a Quintessential French Person.  In France, you don’t go to an attorney’s office for a house closing, you go to the notaire’s.  He’s somewhere in between a lawyer and a paralegal and he handles all the property issues for his village.  You just know he’s got all the dirt on everybody in town and could tell you a thing or two about your neighbors.

He had to conduct our two meetings in English so Mr. Big would understand what he was signing.  His accent was so French, I wanted to listen to him all day.  And, it was very important that I listen because he was explaining why Domestic Son and I were about to be screwed.  Yes.  Inheritance rules in France are set in stone.  It all has to do with Droit du Sang (Blood Law) and the Napoleonic Code.  Monsieur Notaire actually said the words “Here, we still live by the Napoleonic Code.”  Not a sentence one hears every day.

M. NOTAIRE:  Eet eez quite simple.  You, Madame, weel only inherit half of zee property upon zee death of le Monsieur.  Zee other half weel be divided between your daughtaire and your youngest zohn, zee true sheeldren of le Monsieur.

ME:   Wait.  OK, so if Mr. Big croaks first, NO MATTER WHAT IT SAYS IN HIS WILL, the property doesn’t go directly to me?  The kids don’t have to wait until I kick the bucket, too, to get their grubby, little hands on my stuff?  And one of the kids is shit out of luck no matter what happens?

M. NOTAIRE:  Well, um, oui, Madame, alzough I am not sure what eez zees “sheet out of luck” zat you speak about, but, usually, zee sheeldren are kind enough to let zaire old maman leev een zee house unteel she dies.

Well, that’s mighty nice of them, isn’t it?  Generous, those French children.  I had visions of Charming Daughter redecorating MY kitchen and ordering new curtains while I withered away in the attic with a bowl of gruel.  I could see my two sons battling it out with swords on the front lawn over the right to inherit the snow blower.  Dude!  It’s my snow blower!  Napoleon said so!  En garde!

And, poor Domestic Son.  True sheeldren, indeed.  He wasn’t about to let those two youngsters usurp his place in the family.  Who has wrecked more of the man’s cars?  Huh?  Me, that’s who.  Who made the man drive two hours each way at 5 in the morning to bail him out of jail at the beach, huh?  Me, that’s who.  And, need I remind you, who taught the both of you how to drink the man’s liquor and refill it with water?  Who was that again?  Right, me.  Take my third of the chalet?  I think not.

Of course, this situation was untenable, but, happily for me and Domestic Son, enough foreigners with their “strange” ideas and blended families had come before us and had the exact same problems with ol’ Napoleon and his code, so that the French were forced to devise a system to deal with our issues.

First, Mr. Big and I had to sign a special paper leaving each other the property when we die.  This paper, however, is not valid until all three children come to France, get their own notaire from an adjacent village, meet with our notaire, and sign what’s called a “Pacte de Famille”.  It’s a treaty.  True story.

So, when it’s all said and done, our family will have its’ own treaty whereby we all agree not to kill each other over the stupid chalet and divvy it up according to Mom and Dad’s wishes.  Now, until I get all three of them over here to sign this document, which could take no small amount of time, Domestic Son and I have made our own secret pact that it is of the utmost importance to keep Mr. Big alive and breathing.

I will be in charge of regulating his diet, (no fois gras), and away from potential avalanches and power tools.  Domestic Son will filter out all stress-producing news from the homefront and try to keep the money requests to a minimum.   A healthy Mr. Big means no maman in the attic and no duels at dawn.  I really think this whole experience has brought us much closer together as a family.  What with the treaty and all.

1 comment:

  1. This is hilarious. Amy, a friend in Lutry, just told me about your blog. Thank you for making me laugh today. Beth