What to Do in the Event of Death


The general definitions below are intended to familiarize you with some of the terms used in this guide. To find out the definitions and eligibility criteria for a specific program, check with the government department or body responsible for the program.

Note concerning de facto spouses
The Civil Code of Québec does not recognize a surviving de facto spouse as a legal heir. However, some government programs make it possible for de facto spouses to receive benefits in the event of death, under certain conditions. You must check with each government department or body concerned to find out the eligibility criteria. As a rule, the spouses must have lived in a conjugal relationship for at least three years prior to the death of one of the spouses or for one year if a child was born or will be born shortly of their union or if a child was adopted.

A written statement in which a creditor declares that a debt has been paid.

A payment made, in particular under a program or plan.

To give by will.

Civil union contract
A notarized contract by which the civil union spouses or future civil union spouses choose their civil union regime.

A legal act that modifies or cancels a will. To be valid, a codicil must comply with the same conditions as the will. 

A building with recesses in which funerary urns are placed.

Compensatory allowance
An amount paid to one of the spouses to compensate for his or her contribution to the enrichment, in property or services, of the other spouse’s patrimony.

Coroner’s office
The body that investigates the causes of and circumstances surrounding a death when they are unexplained or questionable.

Creditor of support
A person to whom a sum of money is owed.

Creditor of support
A person to whom support is owed.

A person who is appointed by the court to administer the property of and/or take care of an individual under curatorship. The curator may be either a natural person who knows the individual or the Curateur public.

Protective supervision for an adult who suffers from a total and permanent incapacity, and needs to be represented with respect to the exercise of his or her civil rights. A curator is appointed by the court to protect the adult and administer his or her property.

The harm caused to a person.

Dative tutorship
Tutorship to a minor, exercised by a tutor appointed by the court, where the parents are no longer able to look after the child. Parents can appoint a dative tutor in their wills, by means of a protection mandate or through a written statement filed with the Curator public. As a last resource, the Curator public can serve as the dative tutor for a minor’s property.

De facto spouse
A person living in a conjugal relationship with another person without the commitment of marriage or civil union.

A person who owes a sum of money.

A series of procedures to improve the appearance and preserve the body of a deceased person for visitation purposes, before it is cremated or buried.

Family patrimony
Certain property provided for by law that is acquired by married or civil union spouses for the usual needs of the family.

A person who has a right to an inheritance and accepts it in accordance with the law.

Holograph will
A will written by hand by the testator by hand and without the use of technical means. 

A sum of money serving as compensation for damage sustained.

All of the property and assets from a succession.

Legal spouse
A spouse recognized by the Civil Code of Québec as a result of marriage or a civil union.

Legal tutorship
Tutorship to a minor, generally exercised by the parents, from the birth of the child until the child reaches age 18.

Legatee by particular title
A person who receives a specific legacy (movable or immovable property, or money) under a will.

Liquidation of a succession
An operation that consists in identifying and contacting the successors, determining the content of the succession, recovering money owed to the succession, paying the succession’s debts, paying legacies by particular title, submitting a report and distributing the property.

Liquidator of a succession
The person designated to liquidate a person’s succession.

Marriage contract
A notarized contract by which the spouses or future spouses choose their matrimonial regime.

Funerary building enclosing caskets that are not interred. Note that certain mausoleums have a section where funerary urns can be stored.

A person under 18 years of age.

Obligation of support
An obligation imposed by law to provide a child, parent, or spouse with the support necessary to ensure his or her subsistence (food, housing, healthcare and clothing.

Regular income from financial investments or paid under a public or private program or plan.

Person of full age
A person 18 years of age or over.

The act of placing a dead person in the ground, or place where the body or ashes of a dead person are buried or inurned.

The property, rights, and liabilities left by a deceased person, to be distributed as stipulated by law or a will.

A person entitled to inherit who has not yet accepted or refused the succession.

A person who outlives another person.

A person who makes a will or has one made.

A legal regime under which property constitutes a separate patrimony held by one person on behalf of another.

Tutorship to a minor
Protective supervision for a minor. A tutor is appointed to ensure the protection of the minor, administer the minor’s patrimony and exercise the minor’s civil rights. There are two types of tutorship to a minor: legal tutorship and dative tutorship.

Tutorship to an adult
Protective supervision for an adult whose incapacity is partial or temporary, and who needs to be represented with respect to the exercise of his or her civil rights. A tutor is appointed by the court to protect the adult and/or administer his or her property.

A document by means of which a person bequeaths his or her property and makes known his or her last wishes in the event of death.