In ‘The Heir’ Ruben Nicolai (46) travels to the sunny south. He follows tracks in the French capital Paris and on the Côte d’Azur. In addition to an amount of money of 75,000 euros, a huge house is also left behind. All this is the legacy of Atoinette Hek. Ruben stumbles upon an incredibly tragic family history, but will he be able to find an heir?
“I did not expect that”
When Ruben discusses the case with heir researcher Klaas Zondervan, it turns out that they know that a house has been left behind, but not where that house is. What is known is that Antoinette’s mother – who is called Aleida – has died in Paris. That is why Klaas thinks that the family lived in Paris. From the death certificate that Ruben turns up in Paris, it appears that Antoinne’s father was named Antoin.
Ruben soon finds the marriage certificate of Antoinette, who married André Germain Verneiges in 1949 at the age of 33. Ruben eventually finds the date of death of Antoinne Verneiges-Hek on a site. She turns out to have died at the age of 98, in 2014. Then he discovers that her funeral service was in a church on the Côte d’Azur.
Once in the church where Antoinette’s funeral took place, Ruben finds the pastor who provided the service. It turns out that the service was held in Dutch and that a Dutch priest was present.
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Just when Ruben is stuck, Klaas calls with some news. He has found the house that was also bequeathed by Antoinette. It turns out that it is in Hyeres, the place where her funeral was also held. When he visits the house, he encounters a woman who tells him that Antoinette did indeed live there, but left no children. “There is no heir,” says the lady. Meanwhile, Klaas calls with the news that Antoinette’s house is worth 600,000 euros.
Through the family tree, Ruben finds out that Antoinette had five brothers. One of them passed away at the age of 3. Another in 1975. The other three all on the same day in 1942. Could that have something to do with the war? Ruben finds this out in the archives of the town of St. Dizier. There it turns out that the three brothers have died by drowning, while swimming, under the watchful eye of their father.
The archive employee then puts Ruben in touch with someone who was an eyewitness to the tragic drowning of the brothers. He confirms the sad story and Ruben learns that all the brothers have died childless. That is why Ruben has to look for descendants through Antoinette’s parents.
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Due to the homework that Klaas has done, many descendants have come into the picture, but no heir yet. The pedigree on father’s side is complete. Under French inheritance law, all cousins who were still alive after Antoinette’s death are entitled to a share of the inheritance.
Ruben discovers that a niece of Antoinette, named Margeretha, only died in 2019. Her children Lambertus and Wilhelmina are therefore heirs of what Antoinette has left behind. Another niece of Antoinette, named Theodora, is still alive. She has now reached the respectable age of 103 and is entitled to an inheritance of 168,750 euros. Ruben is eager to meet Theodora, but an unexpected visit to the old woman has too much of an impact. She’ll get the message across.
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Finally, Ruben meets the heirs Lambertus and Wilhelmina. Ultimately, they are both entitled to an inheritance of 84,375 euros. “Unbelievable. I did not expect that,” says Lambertus about the news. “Well, that’s very nice”, is the first reaction of Wilhelmina. “I think it’s very special. I never expected this.”
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