Settling an estate
Caution : each estate is unique, it is important to contact your notary. This website only provides a general overview of the steps to settling an estate.
Here is a general overview of the steps to settling an estate when a loved one passes away:
- Conducting will searches and applying for the death certificate
- Appointing the liquidator
- Preparing the estate inventory
- Applying for clearance certificates
- Providing a final accounting and proceeding with the partition of the estate
Conducting will searches and applying for the death certificate
Wills made before notaries or lawyers are recorded twice a month in the registers of testamentary dispositions of each professional order, namely the Barreau du Québec and the Chambre des notaires du Québec. This is considered conclusive evidence that you have the last copy of your loved one’s will. If no will is recorded in the registers, please refer to the Intestate Estate section of our website (Intestate Estate).
Several funeral homes offer this service with the funeral; however, only notaries or lawyers may order the on-line searches and therefore save you some time. Contact us to ask about our competitive rates.
You must apply for the death certificate with the Directeur de l’état civil of Québec.
Appointing the liquidator
If the will is silent in this regard or in cases of intestacy, a liquidator will have to be appointed. This person will then be authorized to close accounts and ensure that the estate is properly settled. Please refer to the Settling an Estate section of our website in order to find out more about the responsibilities that come with the office of liquidator.
Preparing the estate inventory
Unless the estate is clearly solvent and the heirs give their consent, the liquidator shall prepare an estate inventory, which is a list of the assets and liabilities of the deceased person. This inventory is published in the Registre des Droits Personnels et Réels Mobiliers (RDPRM) as well as in the local newspaper distributed in the deceased person’s last domicile. Many liquidators skip this step in an attempt to save the estate’s money. However, take note that if an inventory is not published and a creditor subsequently comes forward, the liquidator may be held liable for reimbursing the debt. It is sometimes more prudent to prepare the inventory even for those who were close to the deceased person and, as such, avoid the stress and inconvenience of having to reimburse an unexpected debt. Contact us so we can help prepare and publish an estate inventory. A copy of this inventory is given to the heirs.
Applying for clearance certificates
Applying for the clearance certificates with both levels of government is an important step to settling an estate. For the federal government, please refer to http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/lf-vnts/dth/clrnc-eng.html and for the provincial government http://www.revenuquebec.ca/en/citoyen/situation/deces/certificat.aspx. This is your proof that all amounts have been paid to the tax authorities and that sums of money may now be distributed to the heirs.
Providing a final accounting and proceeding with the partition of the estate
This is the last step to settling the estate! The liquidator shall provide a final accounting to the heirs of all amounts collected and all debts paid. In consideration therefor, the heirs shall discharge the liquidator. The money or property is partitioned and distributed in shares. The estate is now settled!