What to Do in the Event of Death.

Helpful definitions

The definitions below are general definitions intended to familiarize you with some of the terms used in this guide. They have no legal value. You must verify with each government department or agency to find out the definitions specific to each program and the eligibility criteria. 

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.


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

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

Bequeath
To give by will in anticipation of death.

Burial (sepulture)
The act of placing a dead person in the ground, place where the body or ashes of a dead person are buried.

Civil union contract
A notarized contract made before the solemnization of the civil union of two persons.

Codicil
An addition or a modification to a will after it has been written. The codicil does not invalidate the will.

Columbarium
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
A person to whom a sum of money is owed.

Creditor of support
A person to whom support is owed.

Curator
A person who is appointed to administer the property of and take care of a person 18 years of age or over who has been declared totally and permanently incapacitated
by the court.

Curatorship
The legal authority given to a person or body to assist a person 18 years of age or over who has been declared incapacitated, and to administer his or her property.

Damage
The harm caused to a person.

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

Debtor of support
A person who must pay support.

Embalming
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.


First cousins
Cousins, one of whose father or mother is the brother or sister of the other person’s father or mother and both of whom share one or two grandparents.

Funeral
A farewell ceremony in homage to a deceased person.

Funeral rite
A tradition or rite surrounding death.

Indemnity
A sum of money serving as compensation for damage sustained.

Inheritance
All of the property and assets from a succession.

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

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

Legatee by particular title
A person to whom money or property is bequeathed by means of 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 made before the solemnization of the marriage of two persons.

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

Minor
A person under 18 years of age.

Obligation of support
A mutual obligation imposed by law on certain persons (relatives in the direct line in the first degree, married or civil union spouses), under which one may claim the support necessary for his or her subsistence
(food, housing, clothing, health care, etc.) from the other.

Pension
The annual 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.

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

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

Survivor
A person who outlives another person.

Testator
A person who makes a will or has one made.

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

Tutor
A person responsible for administering the property and exercising the civil rights of a person of full age declared partially or temporarily incapacitated by the court.

Tutor to a minor
A person of full age who is responsible for ensuring the protection of a minor, administering the minor’s patrimony and exercising the minor’s civil rights.

Tutorship
The legal authority to protect a minor or a person of full age with disabilities.

Will
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.