Carrot Soup with Ginger and Sherry; French Inheritance

While I take a break visiting family, step back with me in time to 3 years ago, when we were homeless, to the beginning of this project…. And all of our frustrations:

THEY say, when life hands you lemons……

For those of you who are getting a certain, perverse entertainment rush out of the ongoing mess that is our life….

The scoop:

Unbeknownst to us, the house that we are buying, er, trying to buy, belongs to a child.

The previous owner, I'll call him 'The Old Man', wasn't on particularly good terms with his children and disinherited them. 

Just so you really understand what this means: French law is Napoleonic, meaning that children can not be cut out of the will. Children automatically inherit a portion of the estate. 

Spouses do not. Spouses can be cut out of the will easily.

This is the reason French property, vineyards, etc., can be broken up into such tiny pieces. The estate is divided equally between the children. Period. One cannot inherit more than another.

If there is one child, the child gets 50% upon the death of the parent.

If there are 2 children each gets 33%.

If there are more than 2 children they, equally, divide 75%.

This is not a suggestion or guideline, it's law.

But, like any law, with careful planning…..

As we understand it, The Old Man, was so, shall we say, disenchanted with his children, he took them to court to disinherit them. 

And he won.

He left his estate to his great-grandson, who was, then, around 8 years old.

Why, you are wondering, is this of the least importance?

Two reasons:

First: Everything that happens with the property, from the price to the date of closing, has to go before the Tribunal for approval.

They are entrusted with the task of protecting the child's interest.

Every page of every document must be initialed and signed by them.

Second: The people actually selling the house, acting on the behalf of the child, (the child's father and grandmother) have no interest in it. They're not spending money on upkeep nor are they getting the money when it sells, so they don't care when it closes. If they have a haircut scheduled for the closing date, we change the closing date.

So we have one group of overly-concerned people and one group of don't-give-a tinker's-damn people.

All of these people are being manipulated by the most incompetent Notaire in all of France.

Not ours; the Notaire of the seller.

One example and I'll quit this rant: Because the property is a hectaire, and formerly agricultural, the local agricultural community has the right of first refusal to any sale. This is normally a formality, but has to be abided by. The notice is submitted, and if nothing is heard from them in 60 days, the sale can proceed. We signed the compromis (purchase documents) in June. The Notaire forgot to send them in, then went on holiday, and didn't get around to it until August 28th. Thus the closing date of Oct. 29. Of course, they could have paid 100 euro to get a faster reply but… See above.

So, there you have it.  We get to sit on our hands for another week.  We were allowed to move our furniture in, and we are allowed to go to the Notaire, pick up the key, and go and look at our furniture.

We are not allowed to do any work, either inside or out, and we are not allowed to keep the key over night.

We are also allowed to insure the house and our worldly possessions – but not allowed to change the lock.

The other thing we are not allowed to do is change our mind or exert any pressure to get it done faster.

We are allowed to rant, rave, stamp our feet in frustration and generally be a nuisance.

That prevented the closing date from being moved to Nov. 3rd….  (one of the sellers had a previous appointment – they can sign by proxy.)

I'm done now. 

Oh – internet, phone, electricity, water, all that good stuff?  We can do nothing until we have the final contract in hand….

Maybe some nice, hot soup will help.

Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Sherry

1 medium onion
3 medium carrots
1 medium potato
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp rubbed sage 
pinch of nutmeg 
1/4 cup milk 
3 tbs sherry 
2 tbs crème fraiche
1 tbs butter
pepper

Chop onion. Thinly slice carrot and potato.  Heat butter in medium saucepan. Add onion and sauté until tender and transparent, about 5 minutes. Add carrot, potato, stock, sage and ginger. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are done, about 20 minutes. Puree in blender or use an immersion blender. Add milk and nutmeg and gently reheat. Do not boil. Ladle into soup plates and serve, with a dollop of crème fraiche on top and some freshly ground pepper


9 thoughts on “Carrot Soup with Ginger and Sherry; French Inheritance”

  1. Katie – this is mind boggling! I can not imagine going through such a process…when we bought our first house, we were both so stressed out….and everything went smoothly! How did you get through it all?

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