What trace do we leave after leaving? This dizzying question, which crosses all of us one day, can find an answer in a project that defies time. And this is how men and women choose to bequeath all or part of their heritage to this town or village that saw them born and grow up, and that they sometimes left to find it better in the fall. of their life. A gesture of tenderness for this land where their history is rooted. A gift for the future too, offering the municipality the means to continue to develop.
Henriette Flesch has never forgotten Thénac. After a life in Paris, she returned to spend her last years in this town of Charente-Maritime. When she chose to write her will, and having no children, she decided to bequeath the equivalent of 890,000 euros to the municipality.
She then took care to warn the municipality and put her last wishes on paper: the sum should be used for projects for the elderly. Henriette Flesch died in 2020. The following year, on her birthday, a few residents gathered around her grave, accompanied by a saxophonist. The mayor, Sylvie Mercier, gave a speech and a plaque was affixed. To thank her, it was decided that this type of tribute would be paid to her every February 11. From now on, the memory of this lady with a strong character permeates the stones of Thénac. Here, it is the room of the club of the third age which has been renovated; there, work to make municipal buildings accessible will benefit from a boost; further on, sidewalks will be widened. “As many sites for which we did not need to resort to borrowing, underlines Sylvie Mercier. The amount of the bequest is equivalent to the budget of a year and a half for our municipality, it is not insignificant. Recently, residents aged over 70 were able to have a good time on a boat trip organized by the municipal center for social action. A first.
In Craponne-sur-Arzon (Haute-Loire), the legacy left by Marguerite Vallade-Gibert has been growing for five years. The renovation of the school, completed in 2019, would undoubtedly have delighted this former teacher. Other projects followed. It must be said that the directives of Marguerite Vallade-Gibert were very clear: 100,000 euros were to be devoted to the nursing home, 50,000 euros dedicated to the restoration of two chapels. A building was also rehabilitated to accommodate the new media library and the renovation of a square was launched. Each time, the municipality has put together funding files with subsidies. The money from the bequest complementing these, she did not need to borrow. However, if Marguerite Vallade-Gibert had informed the town hall of her approach, she had not specified the amount of her heritage. “When we discovered that the whole thing was around a million euros, we fell out of our chair,” recalls Christine Lagier-Cartier, first deputy mayor.
Other testators are much more discreet about their intentions. In May 2022, the city of Roquefort-les-Pins (Alpes-Maritimes) thus learned that a resident who had just died, a certain Romaine Carlès, had bequeathed her fortune, of around 8 million euros. The surprise was total for the municipal team. As an informed citizen, the centenarian had detailed in her will, written in the 2000s and kept secret, an action plan: a school should be built on one of the lands she owned. “We have a school group in the center of the village, a second will open its doors in September 2023 in the southern sector. There is therefore no urgency, but the location of Mrs Carlès’ land is a boon for considering and anticipating a future project in the eastern sector, ”explains France Zattara, head of the mayor’s office and communication. Romaine Carlès has also bequeathed 680,000 euros to the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA).
A school, a pond, birds…
The municipalities are not, in fact, the only ones to receive, one day, a letter from the notary. In 2021, the Apprentis d’Auteuil foundation, which supports nearly 40,000 young people and 8,000 vulnerable families each year, learns that a certain Françoise (name has been changed) wished to send him 250,000 euros. It was a friend of this former teacher who contacted the organization. “Françoise, she told us, wanted these funds to finance the construction or renovation of an establishment for young people in the South West, where she was from,” says Valérie Bouvet Guerin, director of liberalities. and testator relationships within the foundation. The money donated thus made it possible to open a kindergarten class to prevent the dropout of children in difficulty.
WWF France, which has been working to protect the environment since 1973, also regularly receives bequests. Thanks to the generosity of Aline Mantel (1,300,000 euros), the foundation has devised a program to protect wetlands. “In the Camargue, with our partner La Tour du Valat, we restored the ecosystem of a pond that lacked water by investing in a solar pump,” explains Yann Laurans, director of the biodiversity division. “The Whiskered Tern (a migratory bird, Editor’s note) nests on floating plants such as water lilies. But this ecosystem was threatened in the Indre, which is home to thousand-year-old ponds, due to too intense fish farming activity, continues Yann Laurans. We therefore asked the owners of the ponds to reduce their production. In order to compensate for the loss, they were offered to compensate them for ecosystem service. For now, we are committed to a period of five years. »
Beyond the estrangements and the vagaries
But Aline Mantel’s wish could have remained a dead letter. Because, initially, the bequest was to go to one of her friends. But, a few years earlier, the two women had fallen out. Despite this disagreement, they remained in contact and this friend was the first to enter Aline Mantel’s apartment after her death. On her bedside table, the generous donor had left a sheet with her last wishes, thus canceling the first will. The friend could have destroyed the paper to receive the inheritance. It did not happen. “This lady was very classy,” underlines Yann Laurans. The story, with a happy ending, nevertheless shows that a legacy must be prepared during his lifetime.
It is therefore recommended to discuss with the structure that will benefit from it. The Apprentis d’Auteuil foundation, which receives an average of 300 inheritance files each year, advises, for example, not to allocate the bequest to a particular action. “Indicating in your will that the money should be used for such and such a school is not without risk. Because, if the latter has meanwhile closed, the bequest is null and void. In this case, the patrimony will be transmitted to the distant family or will go to the State. Fortunately, this is very rare. In the vast majority of cases, donations are not allocated to a specific cause, the name of our foundation is simply mentioned, says Valérie Bouvet Guerin. It is more comfortable, because it allows us to make the best use of the money. »
Taking the time to think about the amount you will leave behind also allows you to provide details that are not just details. Marguerite Vallade-Gibert thus demanded that her name be given to the school to which her will was dedicated. And wanted to add her maiden name to her surname.
Or how to forever mark this little piece of France that we cherish so much.
Three ways to bequeath
- The Universal Legacy: By appointing the person who is dear to you as universal legatee, they can receive your entire estate. But, if there are forced heirs, they retain the right to their share.
- The bequest by universal title: By opting for this approach, you bequeath a part or “fraction” of your heritage (a half, a third or a quarter) or a category only real estate or movable property).
- The particular bequest: It is suitable if you wish to bequeath one or more specifically designated assets.
Transmit via life insurance
- You can designate an association, a foundation or a public utility organization as the beneficiary of all or part of your life insurance contract. It is then necessary to fill in his name as well as the address.
- Another possibility: appoint the organization as the beneficiary of your life insurance “failing that”; in other words, this one will be paid the capital if your first beneficiary no longer has the capacity to receive it. Note that the capital of a life insurance is not taken into account in the succession.