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Inventory of effects.
How made, ap. praisement.
specting the residence of the family and friends of the deceased. This will be done in all cases. He is also required to make a quarterly return of both citizens and seamen to the Department of State, according to Form No. 121.
370. When the Consul is authorized to act, an inventory must be taken, in the first instance, of all the effects of the deceased, with the assistance of two merchants of the United States, or, for want of them, of any other two respectable persons. This inventory must be entered in the proper Consular record-book. A copy must also be sent to the Department of Stato.
371. In performing this branch of the Consular duty great attention is required. Merchants of the most respectable standing are to be selected as the assistants of the Consular Officer. Although appraisement is not mentioned in the act, Consular Officers are instructed to have the apparent value of every article affixed to it. In cases of partnership a Consular Officer should not attempt to exercise jurisdiction over the partnership property until the dissolution of the firm and settlement and liquidation of partnership debts.
372. If among the papers of the deceased are found any evidences of debts, although they may not be due in the Consular district, yet they are to be placed in the inventory for the information and security of individuals in the United States who are interested. The commercial books of the deceased are to be placed in the inventory, and particularly described, the number of pages that each of the said books contains being mentioned; and the Consular Officer will place a certificate, signed by himself, at the beginning and the end of each book, in such a manner as to prevent any addition being made to them. The letter-books of the deceased are comprehended in the term commercial books.
373. The Consular Officer is further directed to sell at auction such part of the estate as shall be of a perishable nature. All sales of the property of the deceased must be at auction, after reasonable public notice. In the execution of his duty, the Consular Officer is instructed to give the same previous notice that is directed by the laws of the country for the judicial sale of property in execution, and
at some public place; but whether it be required in judicial sales or not, the notice must be given in at least one of the newspapers of the place, if any be printed there, both in English and in the language of the country. No property shall be sold as being of a perishable nature until it has been viewed by two respectable merchants, and by them certified to be of that description.
374. The Consular Officer will also collect the debts due to the estate of the deceased in the country where he died, and, with the amount thus collected, pay the debts which the deceased may have there contracted; but it has been decided that it is proper for him to decline to pay any claim, not reduced to a judgment, for damages on account of any wrongful act alleged to have been done by the deceased. If the proceeds of the sales, together with the funds of the estate in hand and those collected from debts due the deceased, should not be sufficient to liquidate the legal claims against the estate, the Consular Officer is authorized to dispose of any other portion of the personal estate which may be necessary for that purpose.
375. If among the effects of the deceased (the word "effects" being one of very comprehensive signification, and embracing property of every description, inclusive of debts due) are found certificates of foreign stocks, loans, or other property, the Consular Officer is directed to charge on the amount thereof such commissions as are authorized in the tariff of fees on the settlement of estates of American citizens; also to report the amount in his quarterly statement of fees, and, if a salaried Consular Officer, to hold the same subject to the order of the Treasury Department; but he is not to embrace in the inventory such personal estate as the deceased may have left in the United States, or beyond the Consular district. The Consular Officer, from the necessity of the case, acts as the collector of the effects within the Consulate; the provisions of law do not extend his power beyond this necessity. The personal estate of the deceased in the United States remains to be administered by the legal representative at home, according to the laws of the State or district to which the deceased belonged. Under the provisions of the statute the Consular Officer is to take posses
Consu to collect and pay debts.
Foreign stocks bonds, &c.
Account to be kept.
sion of the personal estate left by any citizen of the United States, where the laws of the foreign country permit, which, of course, must be the personal estate left within the jurisdiction of such foreign country. He is only to collect the debts due to the deceased in the country where he died. In like manner, he is not to pay the debts due from the deceased at home, but only such debts as he shall have there (in the foreign country) contracted. If among the effects are found personal or family letters, not necessary to the settlement of the estate, or jewelry or other articles interesting or valuable as keepsakes to the relatives of the deceased, they should, in the absence of the heir or legal representative, be sent to the Department of State for transmission to the persons entitled to receive them.
376. In one year after the death of the intestate, the Consular Officer is also directed to transmit, through the Department of State, the remainder of the estate (after paying the debts and other lawful charges) to the Treasury of the United States, in money, to be holden in trust for the legal representatives; but if at any time before such transmission the legal representatives of the deceased appear, and demand the effects in the hands of the Consular Officer, the latter shall deliver them up, the fees being paid, and shall cease his proceedings. The Consular Officer should at all times be prepared, and he is expressly required, to deliver over the effects and papers of the estate in his possession at any stage of the proceedings, after deducting the fees and expen es, to any legal representative of the deceased, or appointed trustee, who presents unquestionable evidence of authority to act as such.
377. In the execution of the duty prescribed by the preceding paragraph, the Consular Officer is instructed to keep a regular account of all moneys received, as well of effects sold as of credits collected, and all sums expended, taking duplicate receipts, expressing on what account the sums are paid, and numbering them regularly; one of the said duplicates is to be kept by the Consular Officer and the other delivered to the representative of the deceased, or transmitted to the Treasury Department if no representative appear.
378. He must also enter on his consular books a regular Settlement of esaccount between himself and the estate of the deceased, in which he shall enter to his own debit all the moneys and effects that come into his hands; and to his credit all the payments he may make; and, finally, the remainder that he may deliver over or remit, so as to close the account. A copy of this account shall be delivered to the representative of the deceased, and transmitted to the Fifth Auditor of the Treasury.
379. As soon as an estate shall be finally settled, so far as the Consular Officer is concerned, he shall give notice thereof to the Department of State, transmitting at the same time an itemized statement of the receipts and expenditures on account of the estate, and showing the amount in money, or the effects, which have been delivered to the representative of the deceased or sent to the Fifth Auditor, as the case may be.
380. If there should be several parties, each claiming to be the representative of the deceased, and demanding the effects, the Consular Officer must direct the parties to determine their rights before the proper judicial tribunals. But if there be no contention or litigation, or if a traveler or other transient person die with personal effects in hand, the Consul will take possession of them for transmission to the decedent's country. And when a citizen of the United States, not a seaman, dies on the high seas, whether on board an American or foreign vessel, and the effects of the deceased are brought within a Consular district, it is the duty of the Consular Officer to take charge of them, if they can be obtained. He should promptly report the circumstances of the case to the Department of State, informing it at the same time of the kind and amount of effects or money left by the deceased, and of his residence and the names of his relatives, if these can be ascertained. It is not unusual, however, in such cases, and if the members of his family or near relatives are with him while traveling, to allow them to take possession of the effects, and this course is often advisable.
Death while traveling.
381. In the case where, by a testamentary disposition of Will to be proved. the deceased, some person other than the Consular Officer is
Counsel not allowed.
appointed to take charge of and manage the property, the latter has a right to require, before intervening officially, that the will should be proved so as to give it legal effect. If the decedent leaves a will intended to operate in the United States, it is the right of the Consular Officer and his duty, in the absence of adult heirs on the spot, to see to the safe keeping of the will and its transmission to the parties entitled.
382. The Department of State has sometimes been asked by Consular Officers for authority to employ the services of legal counsel in the settlement of the estates of decedents abroad. In the consular courts in non-Christian countries, and in the discharge of their probate jurisdiction, the employment of counsel has, in a few instances, been suggested by the Consular Officer sitting as judge, and the suggestion has been concurred in by the Department. In other countries it is doubtful that authority to employ counsel can be conferred by the Department, and such requests are uniformly refused.
Marriages, how celebrated.
383. It is enacted by statute that "marriages in presence of any Consular Officer of the United States in a foreign country, between persons who would be authorized to marry if residing in the District of Columbia, shall be valid to all intents and purposes and shall have the same effect as if solemnized within the United States." As under the Constitution of the United States the States have exclusive power of determining the conditions of marriage and divorce as to persons domiciled within their borders, this statute only covers marriages by persons domiciled in the District of Columbia or in the Territories.
The statute does not exclude modes of solemnization other than that in presence of a Consular Officer. Marriages abroad, by citizens of the District of Columbia, or of the Territories, when not in the presence of a Consular Officer,