The death of a loved one is a trying experience and there are a number of issues you will have to deal with. This guide provides an overview of the steps you will need to take in the event of a death.

You can download a paper copy of this guide What to Do in the Event of Death, 2020 Edition (PDF 3.67 Mb).

Steps you can take preparing a death

To protect your loved ones and avoid creating complications for them after your death, there are steps you can take to Prepare for your death, such as preparing a will, signing a contract for prearranged funeral or sepulture services or providing advance medical directives. If you are a parent, you can also designate a person to be appointed as the tutor to your minor children in the event of your death. 

First steps you must take following a death

Declaration of death This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Directeur de l’état civil

Any death occurring in Québec must be declared to the Directeur de l’état civil. The Directeur de l’état civil then prepares the act of death and records the death in the Québec register of civil status.

Application for the simplified forwarding of information concerning the death This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by the Directeur de l’état civil

When you are completing the formalities entailed by the death of a family member, the funeral director can provide you with a copy of the Application for the simplified forwarding of information concerning the death. This form authorizes the Directeur de l’état civil to report the person’s death to a number of departments and agencies in a single step, thereby relieving the deceased’s relatives or the liquidator of the succession of having to provide the death certificate to those organizations.

Health insurance This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec

The relatives may give the deceased’s health insurance card to the funeral director, who will see that it is returned to the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec. Otherwise, it must be returned directly to the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec.

Prescription drug insurance This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec

If you are a relative who was covered by the deceased’s private prescription drug insurance plan, it may be the case that you are no longer covered. Because of the change in your situation, you may now be eligible for the public prescription drug insurance plan.

To determine which type of plan (public or private) you are now eligible for and what you should do to make sure you are covered, complete the Check your situation questionnaire. This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Leave from work in the event of a death This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST)

As an employee, you are entitled to take leave from your work for the death or funeral of a relative. You must inform your employer of the dates when you plan to be absent from work.

Proof of death: certificates and copies of acts This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by the Directeur de l’état civil

The documents entitled Copy of an act of death and Death certificate issued by the Directeur de l’état civil are official proof of a person’s death. These documents are necessary to settle a succession or claim a pension or other indemnities granted to survivors.

Payment of funeral expenses This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by Retraite Québec

If the deceased contributed sufficiently to the Québec Pension Plan, the person who paid the funeral expenses can be reimbursed for those expenses according to the terms and conditions provided for in the Plan, which is administered by Retraite Québec.

Death benefit This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by Retraite Québec

The death benefit granted under the Québec Pension Plan is a lump-sum payment that can total up to $2,500. It is paid if the deceased contributed sufficiently to the Québec Pension Plan. It is paid on a priority basis to the person who paid the funeral expenses.

After 60 days following the date of death, if no application has been filed with proof of payment of funeral expenses, the death benefit can be paid to the heirs if they have accepted the succession. Since the death benefit is taxable, a tax slip will be issued in the name of the succession.

Special benefit for funeral expenses This hyperlink will open in a new window.

If you paid the funeral expenses of a person whose resources were insufficient to pay those expenses, you can apply for a special benefit for funeral expenses.

Death occuring in special circumstances

A death may occur in special circumstances, either outside Québec or in certain situations requiring a coroner to become involved. You should take special care in such a case to follow the proper procedures.

Steps you must take before settling a succession

Designating the liquidator This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice du Québec

In most cases, the name of the liquidator is indicated in the will. The first step you must take is to register the name of the liquidator in the Register of personal and movable real rights (RDPRM). This is how the liquidator’s name is officially published.

Will search This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice

If you are designated as the liquidator, before you can liquidate the succession, you must determine whether the deceased left a will and, if so, you must make sure that the will you have found is, in fact, the last will made by the deceased.

In every case, even if a will is found, you must do a will search. To do so, contact the Barreau du Québec and the Chambre des notaires.

Will search with the Barreau du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by the Barreau du Québec

After the search is completed, you will be issued a search certificate confirming whether a will has been registered in the Registers of wills and mandates of the Barreau du Québec. If the certificate contains the contact information of the lawyer who has the last will registered, you will be able to contact the lawyer to consult the will or obtain a copy of it.

Will search with the Chambre des notaires This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by the Chambre des notaires du Québec

After the search is completed, you will be issued a search certificate confirming whether a will has been registered in the Registers of Testamentary Dispositions and Mandates of the Chambre des notaires du Québec. If the certificate contains the contact information of the notary who has the last will registered, you will be able to contact the notary to consult the will or obtain a copy of it.

Probating the will This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice

If the deceased left a notarial will, it does not have to be probated. However, a holograph will or a will made before witnesses, even if it was prepared by a lawyer, must be probated by a notary or by the court. You can see to the probating of the will yourself or ask a notary or lawyer to do it for you.

Succession without a will This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice

If the deceased did not make a will or if the deceased was married or joined in a civil union and had a marriage or civil union contract not stipulating that the surviving spouse is to receive all the property of the deceased spouse, the succession will be liquidated according to the rules of the Civil Code of Québec.

In the case of a succession without a will, a notary may prepare a document referred to as a “declaration of heredity” which serves to identify the heirs or confirm their identity.

Financial assistance for survivors

Different forms of financial assistance for survivors are provided for the relatives of the deceased: survivors’ benefits for the spouse and dependent children, proceeds of a life insurance policy or compensation paid for a death resulting from an automobile accident, work-related accident or criminal act.

Liquidation of the succession

Liquidator of the succession This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice

In most cases, the liquidator of the succession is indicated in the will. The liquidator and the liquidator’s replacement (if any) must be registered in the Register of personal and movable real rights (referred to by its Frech acronym "RDPMR"). This is how the liquidator’s name is officially published.

If the succession includes immovable property (such as land or a house), the liquidator’s name must also be registered in the Québec land register.

Register of personal and movable real rights (RDPMR) This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by the Ministère de la Justice du Québec

When a succession is being settled, the law requires certain rights to be registered in the RDPMR. This formality provides the heirs, creditors and any other interested parties with certain useful information concerning the succession.

Remuneration for the liquidator This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice

A liquidator who is not one of the heirs is entitled to remuneration, that is, a sum of money as compensation for the work he or she performs. If the remuneration is not provided for in the deceased’s will, it must be determined by the heirs. 

Liquidator's obligations and responsibilities This hyperlink will open in a new window.

The liquidator of a succession is the person responsible for settling the succession. The liquidator’s principal tasks are

  • searching for the deceased’s last will
  • making an inventory of the deceased’s property and debts, unless exempted from doing so by unanimous agreement of the heirs
  • having the following published in the Register of personal and movable real rights (RDPRM):
    • the designation of the liquidator or the liquidator’s replacement, if any (this is the first element that must be registered in the RDPRM in order to publish the liquidator’s identity)
    • the closure of the inventory (this element must be registered to confirm that the inventory of the succession is complete and indicate where it can be consulted)
    • the closure of the liquidator’s account (this element must be registered to confirm that the liquidation of the succession has been completed and indicate where the account can be consulted)
  • publishing a notice of closure of the inventory in a newspaper distributed in a locality where the deceased’s last known address is located
  • recovering the sums that were owed to the deceased
  • notifying the persons who inherit pursuant to the will or the law so that they can accept or refuse the succession within the prescribed time limit
  • publishing the notice of closure of the inventory and informing the heirs, unless exempted from doing so
  • administering the succession and selling certain property pursuant to the powers prescribed by the law or by the will 
  • paying the creditors and federal and provincial income taxes, as well as any legacies by particular title
  • giving an accounting to the heirs once a year and after the settlement of the succession is completed
  • applying to Revenu Québec for a certificate authorizing the distribution of property and to the Canada Revenue Agency for a clearance certificate
  • distributing the property to the heirs

Accepting or refusing a succession This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice 

Before deciding to accept or refuse a succession, you should wait until the liquidator has published the notice of closure of the inventory of the succession in the Register of personal and movable real rights (RDPRM).

As a successor, you have six months from the date of the opening of the succession (which is usually the date of death) to accept or refuse it. However, the six-month period can be extended by as many days as necessary to give you 60 days after the closure of the inventory is registered in the RDPRM to make your decision.

Steps you must take relating to the deceased’s situation before death

Certain steps must be taken depending on the deceased’s situation before his death (for example, if the deceased was a renter, parent, child, student, married or in a civil union, incapacitated).

Contacting government departments and agencies to inform them of the date of death

You should contact government departments and agencies to inform them of the date of death if, before his or her death, the deceased was receiving benefits, pensions, indemnities or tax credits.

By doing so, you can avoid having to repay amounts that should not have been paid or that should have been modified as of the date of death.

End of liquidation of a succession and discharge of the liquidator

Income tax returns This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by Revenu Québec

The liquidator of a succession is required to file the deceased’s income tax return for the year of death.

The liquidator must also file the succession’s income tax return, if applicable.

Notice of closure of the inventory This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice

Once the inventory has been completed, the liquidator must register a notice of closure in the Register of personal and movable real rights (RDPRM).

Payment of the succession's debts This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice

Once the inventory has been completed and the notice of closure of the inventory has been published in the Register of personal and movable real rights (RDPRM), the liquidator must pay the succession’s debts. In other words, the liquidator must pay off the debts left by the deceased.

Certificate authorizing the distribution of the succession's property This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by Revenu Québec

Before distributing the succession’s property, the liquidator of the succession must inform Revenu Québec of his or her intention to do so and obtain the certificate authorizing the distribution of property.

Clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by the Canada Revenue Agency

Before distributing the succession’s property, the liquidator of the succession must obtain the clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency authorizing the distribution of property.

Distribution of the property and notice of closure of the final account of the succession This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Information from the Ministère de la Justice

Once the authorizations have been obtained from Revenu Québec and the Canada Revenue Agency, the liquidator files the final account of the succession, which indicates what remains of the succession for the heirs after the debts and legacies by particular title have been paid. The liquidator then distributes the property to the heirs.

Once the property has been distributed, the liquidator must publish a notice of closure of the final account of the succession in the Register of personal and movable real rights (RDPRM).  

The liquidator’s mandate terminates upon publication of this notice.

Transfer of ownership of an immovable (real estate) 
Information from the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles

If the deceased owned immovable property (building, house, land, etc.), the liquidator of the succession must consult a notary. The notary will prepare the declaration of transmission of the immovable confirming the transfer of ownership to the heirs, which will then be registered in the Québec land register.

The land register records the history (in French only) This hyperlink will open in a new window. of all real estate transactions involving immovables situated in Québec. You can consult the register online by paying the applicable fees.

Transfer of ownership of a vehicle
Administered by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ)

If the deceased owned a vehicle registered in Québec, the liquidator of the succession must transfer ownership of the vehicle.

To transfer ownership of the vehicle to an heir or any other new owner, go to one of the service outlets of the SAAQ  This hyperlink will open in a new window.with the new owner to whom the vehicle’s registration is to be transferred. You must provide

  • one piece of ID (such as your driver’s licence)
  • the registration certificate or registration number (licence plate number) of the deceased’s vehicle
  • the Declaration by the Liquidator of the Succession form, duly completed

The new owner must provide

  • his or her driver’s licence
  • If the new owner does not have a file with the SAAQ, the original of his or her birth certificate issued by the Directeur de l’état civil and indicating the names of the new owner’s father and mother, as well as one other piece of ID (health insurance card, passport, etc.)

As liquidator, if you are unable to go to an SAAQ service outlet in person, you may send another person as your representative. The person you designate to represent you must present the Declaration by the Liquidator of the Succession This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the Power of Attorney This hyperlink will open in a new window. forms, duly completed and signed by you.

Unclaimed property and successions This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Administered by Revenu Québec

Each year thousands of people either fail to claim or forget about property belonging to them, such as financial assets or property inherited via a succession. Revenu Québec is the agency designated to receive and administer such property. Revenu Québec also maintains a register of unclaimed property that you can consult.

Note that certain steps you must take in the event of a death involve federal programs and services. In such cases, contact the appropriate department or agency of the Government of Canada.

Government of Canada – What to do when someone has died This hyperlink will open in a new window.

If you need help

Services Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window.

For information on the programs and services of the Gouvernement du Québec, contact Services Québec.

Info-Social 811 This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Info-Social 811 is a free and confidential telephone consultation service. Info-Social 811 personnel can give you information on resources providing support for a person going through a difficult period of mourning.