Ministère de la Justice
The liquidation of a succession (see definitions) consists in administering the property of the deceased person and settling the succession. A person may designate one or several persons as liquidators.
Accepting, refusing or replacing the liquidator
Unless he or she is the only heir (see definitions), the liquidator, even designated in a will, is not bound to accept the office. It is recommended to decline the task in writing in order to have tangible proof of the refusal.
It is preferable to accept or refuse the office of liquidator within 6 months of the testator's death. Once the office has been accepted, the liquidator may still renounce it later on, but may, in certain circumstances, have to repair any prejudice caused as a result or the renunciation.
If no liquidator has been designated and there is no will, the office devolves to the deceased person's heirs. However, the heirs may also designate a third party, such as a notary, to act as liquidator by majority vote.
In some cases and under certain conditions, the liquidator may be replaced, for example due to his or her failure to administer the succession appropriately. It is recommended to contact a legal advisor in order to request the replacement of a liquidator.
If the deceased did not leave a will, the succession is liquidated as provided in the Civil Code of Quebec and is known as legal succession.
Some situations also entail a legal succession, including the following:
If the deceased person has a surviving spouse, the liquidator of a legal succession must first check if there is a marriage contract or a notarial civil union contract. If there is such a contract and it contains a testamentary clause where by the surviving spouse receives all the property of the spouse who dies first, usually the only successor is the surviving spouse (see definitions).
If there is no testamentary clause in the marriage contract or notarial civil union contract or if there is no contract, the liquidator must check if the deceased person had children. If so, the succession may have to be partitioned between the spouse and the children or between the spouse and other successors. The common law spouse and in-laws are excluded from the legal succession.
It is possible to call upon a notary to draw up a declaration of heredity on order to establish the list of successors.
If the deceased left a will, the succession is known as testamentary. If the will is recognized as being valid, it is liquidated according to the provisions it contains.
The main steps involved in liquidating a succession
Whatever the type of succession, the process of liquidation involves the following main steps:
Distribution of property
Before distributing the estate, the liquidator must obtain a certificate of authorization from Revenu Québec and the Canada Revenue Agency, However, he or she may pay funeral expenses, related expenses and urgent expenses not exceeding a total of $12,000 before obtaining the certificate authorization the distribution.
Before issuing the certificate, Revenu Québec informs in writing of the amounts pertaining to claims, interest, penalties, and fees owed by the deceased person.
Exemption from performing an inventory of the property
The liquidator may omit to make an inventory of the property of the deceased person if:
If they exempt the liquidator from making an inventory and the succession is not solvent, the heirs are liable for the succession's debts.
Where the liquidator does not follow all the steps of the liquidation process, he or she must nevertheless obtain a certificate authorizing the distribution of the succession's property from Revenu Québec and the Canada Revenue Agency.
Closing of the liquidation of the succession and discharge of the liquidator
The liquidation of the succession is completed when one of the following two conditions is fulfilled:
However, the liquidator is discharged from his or her legal obligations only when all of the heirs have accepted his or her final account and the closure of the liquidator's account has been entered in the RDPRM.
Remuneration of the liquidator and reimbursement of the liquidator's costs
The liquidator is entitled to reimbursement of the costs incurred in performing his or her task.
If the liquidator is not an heir, he or she is entitled to remuneration.
If the liquidator is an heir, he or she is entitled to remuneration if the deceased person's will contains such a provision or if all the heirs agree to offer remuneration.
If the remuneration is not fixed by the deceased, this can be done by the heirs or, if they disagree, by the court.
A person who has accepted the inheritance to which he or she is entitled.
A gift made by will.
A person who is entitled to inherit, but has not yet accepted the inheritance.
The property and liabilities left by a deceased person.
Persons designated as liquidators of a succession and the successors of the deceased person.
The liquidator of the succession must be one of the following:
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