Settling a succession without a will in Quebec – If you have a loved one who has just passed away, it is already difficult to go through the mourning. But did your deceased family member have a will? If not, it can be confusing to be inundated with paperwork and legal procedures regarding estate settlement. Where to start?
First research steps
First, you must make sure that the deceased did not have a will. Notarized, in front of witnesses or holographic?
In all cases, even if you are convinced that no will exists or if you have found a will, but it may not be the last one, the law requires you to carry out a will search in the Register of Testamentary Dispositions the Chambre of Notaries and the Register of Wills of the Barreau du Québec to obtain search certificates.
If there is none, the deceased may have hidden the holograph (hand-made) will at home or in a safety deposit box. Or, if the will was made before witnesses, you can ask relatives who may have served as witnesses.
If there really is no will, then the regulations of the Civil Code of Quebec come into effect because the status of death is considered ab-intestate.
The rights of spouses
If you are married or in a civil union and you have not made a will, your spouse will inherit part of your property.
If you are not married or in a civil union, your de facto spouse will not inherit, even if you have lived together for several years.
If the deceased was married and childless, the division will be between the widowed spouse and the family. In rare cases, it may happen that distant cousins obtain the inheritance. This is the case if the deceased had no spouse, children, or even close family!
The division of property is done starting with the spouse and children (except de facto spouse), to then be distributed to the close family and then the distant family. Refer to the Educaloi flowchart to understand what applies to your case. Or consult a notary.
Settling a succession without a will – Taking care of the estate
Without a will, who will take care of liquidating my estate?
In the absence of a will, your heirs automatically and collectively become liquidators of the succession at the time of your death. They can then designate a person to act as liquidator. This designation must be the subject of a majority decision of the heirs.
Without a will, the Civil Code of Quebec provides the procedure for the liquidator and the heirs. It is recommended and provided for your loved ones to make a will. Additionally, having it notarized ensures that it will not be destroyed in a fire or misplaced. Even more reason if you have children. You must plan who will become their guardian if you die and are their only parent or if both parents die.
And if you must live with the estate of a loved one who died without a will, talk to your notary. He or she can help you.Contact us now!