Article 414-1 of the Civil Code specifies that “to perform a valid act, one must be of sound mind. It is up to those who act in nullity for this cause to prove the existence of a mental disorder at the time of the act ”. As a result, all patrimonial or extra-patrimonial acts concluded with a protected adult may be canceled a posteriori.
When the person is already under protection, the situation is quite clear and invalidity will be easy to obtain.
The difficulty arises when an act has taken place during the period of uncertainty preceding the initiation of guardianship ou curatorship : the safeguard of justice.
Calling into question an act a posteriori: Nullity
Article 414-2 of the Civil Code specifies that the person concerned, or his heirs, may contest any act carried out during a safeguard of justice.
According to case law, the existence of a mental disorder is left to the judgment of the trial judge (Cass, civ, 1st February 17, 2010, n ° 08-20.950). However, proof of the mental disorder can be reported by any means.
Article 414-2, 1 ° of the Civil Code specifies that the alteration of mental faculties can be deduced from the act. In this case, the act itself carries proof of the mental disorder.
This is the hypothesis in which the act is incoherent, absurd ... The proof of mental insanity is then "intrinsic" to the act that it will suffice to examine to conclude that there is a mental disorder. (make a contract with Madam the moon, bequeath all her goods in the middle of which appears the great pyramid of Cheops…).
The mental alteration can be demonstrated by any means. This will be any evidence that the person was not enjoying his mental faculties at the time of the conclusion of the disputed act, such as a medical certificate.
In one case, the judges canceled life insurance contracts on the grounds "that a doctor's certificate indicates the hospitalization, in June 2003, of Anne-Marie X ..., then aged 92, which presented, before his death, and consequently on the date of modification of the disputed contracts, a deficient brain state, and deduced that the latter was no longer in a position to contract on the date of the signing of the rider "(Cass. Civ., 1st of July 1, 2009, n ° 08-13.402).
Article 414-2 of the Civil Code sets at 5 years the time limit for bringing an action for nullity from the conclusion of the deed.
If the protected person was a minor at the time of the conclusion of the disputed act, the starting point of the limitation period will be 5 years from his majority.