Procedure and rules

If the deceased has not left a will, the succession is liquidated in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code of Québec and is known as a legal succession or intestate succession. In this case, the heirs perform the liquidator’s duties jointly, unless they decide to appoint someone to the role.

In a legal succession, the people entitled to the succession (the successors) are: 

  • the spouse to whom the deceased was married or joined by civil union;
  • the deceased’s blood relatives and relatives by adoption.

This excludes a de facto spouse and in-laws.

In order to determine which rules apply in a legal succession, you must first check whether:

  • the deceased was married or in a civil union, and left a surviving spouse;
  • there is a marriage contract or civil union contract;
  • the contract, executed before a notary, contains a testamentary clause whereby the surviving spouse receives all the property of the spouse who dies first.

If you find this testamentary clause in the contract, the deceased is considered to have left all his or her property to the surviving spouse, who becomes the only successor.

If the contract does not contain a testamentary clause, you must check to see whether the deceased had any children. Depending on your findings, the succession must then be partitioned:

  • between the surviving spouse and the children;
  • between the surviving spouse and the other relatives of the deceased, if there are no children.

Last update: June 6, 2023


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