Dying without a Will in Quebec
One of the most common misconceptions about one's estate or "succession" is that if you don't have a Will, everything will automatically pass to one's spouse. In some cases, this does happen, but the laws of distribution of an estate (intestacy law) are far more complicated than this. In fact, it is so complicated that the Québec government have published a table in an attempt to clear things up.
You can click the image to the left to view larger, but you first need to look at the colour coding at the bottom of the table to see which situation applied to you. Let's take a few examples.
Scenario 1: You are married with one child:
The second row in the table takes effect. Your child would receive a 2/3 share of your succession, your spouse would take a 1/3 share. This is one of the most surprising scenarios for most people. It is common to assume that one's spouse would receive everything, but in reality the child would receive that vast majority of the succession. If the child is a minor, then the legacy would be placed in trust until the child reaches the age of 18 (the legal age of majority in Quebec).
Scenario 2: You are married, but do not have any children:
Again, this is a very common scenario, and very poorly understood. The distribution of the estate or succession, would entirely depend on other living relatives including parents, brothers, sisters or even nieces and nephews. Supposing that you have no siblings, both parents have passed away, and you are married. Did you know that your spouse would actually lose one third of the succession to your nieces and nephews? In almost all situations, your spouse would not receive the entire succession; if your parents are still living, then they will receive one third of the succession, if your parents have passed away, then your siblings would share one third.
Scenario 3: You are not married, and do not have any children:
This is an interesting scenario because some people feel that in certain circumstances the entire successions would go to the government. In reality this rarely happens because there would have to be no living relatives. If you do not have a spouse, children or siblings, then your parents would receive your full succession. If you do have siblings, then your parents would receive half, and your siblings would receive half.
The key message in describing these scenarios is that the intestate distribution (dying without a Will) would probably not match your intentions if you took the time to describe your wishes. The only way that you can describe your intentions for the distribution of your succession is through a legal Last Will and Testament. In Québec you are able to write your own Will, and simply sign the document in the presence of two witnesses to make it legal. There are other important appointments that are made within a Will, but the over-riding purpose of the Will is to describe how you would like your succession to be distributed among your family, friends and potentially charitable organisations.
It only takes about half an hour to prepare a Will, and it does not need to be an expensive process. Every adult should have a legal Last Will and Testament in place.
Quebec Will Kit
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