The death of a loved one is difficult to deal with to say the least. This situation can become quite complicated if the deceased died without a will.
In Quebec, the succession is liquidated in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code of Québec. It is known as a legal succession or intestate succession (section 736). The heirs of the succession:
(1) spouse to whom the deceased was married or;
(2) joined by civil union and;
(3) the deceased’s blood relatives and;
(4) relatives by adoption.
This excludes common-law partners and in-laws.
If a loved one passes without a will, you should first check if there was a marriage or civil union contract and verify if the contract contains a testamentary clause whereby the surviving spouse receives all the family property of the deceased spouse. For example, this would include the family residence. If this clause exists, their property is considered to have been left to the surviving spouse, who becomes the only successor, and therefore, the rules of the marriage or civil union regime will be applied. As a result, the property of the deceased will be used to pay any debts owed before the death as well as any funeral expenses and taxes. The remaining property will be divided among the heirs according to the law.
If the marriage or civil union contract does not include a testamentary clause, the succession will be divided between the surviving spouse who will receive ⅓ of the property, and the children, if any, will receive ⅔ of the property in equal parts (section 653 of the Civil Code). If there are no children, the succession will be divided between the surviving spouse and the other relatives of the deceased.
Please do not hesitate to contact one of our lawyers for more information on wills and estates.