Renouncing a Succession
If you are a successor and you intend to renounce a succession, you should take certain steps before you do. In order to make an informed choice, you should:
- check whether the deceased left a will since it may list the liquidator and the heirs;
- identify and contact the successors;
- consult the inventory prepared by the liquidator;
- take into account certain key information.
Certain actions can constitute acceptance of the succession, even if a successor has not given formal consent. Successors tacitly accept the succession when their actions suggest it is their intention to do so, for example:
- using property of the succession as though it were personal property;
- withdrawing money from the deceased's bank account for personal use;
- exempting the liquidator from making an inventory of the deceased's property;
- not renouncing the succession within the prescribed time limits;
- liquidating the succession without following the rules in the Civil Code of Québec.
However, certain actions agreed upon by all of the successors in order to conserve, supervise or provisionally administer the property are not considered to constitute acceptance of the succession. Such actions include:
- renewing a fire insurance policy;
- paying funeral expenses;
- temporarily managing a business;
- selling perishable goods, donating them to charity or sharing them among the successors;
- distributing the deceased's clothing, personal papers, medals, diplomas and family souvenirs;
- selling property that is costly to keep or likely to depreciate quickly;
- transporting the furniture of the succession to an heir's place of residence to avoid storage fees;
- paying municipal taxes;
- accepting the proceeds of a life insurance policy payable to a designated beneficiary;
- cashing the death benefit payable by Retraite Québec;
- collecting a surviving spouse's pension or orphan's pension administered by Retraite Québec;
- performing an act rendered necessary by exceptional circumstances that is in the interest of the succession.
Successors have six months from the date on which their right to inherit arose (generally the date of death) to accept or renounce the succession. However, this deadline can be extended to 60 days following closure of the inventory, if it is not completed by the end of the six-month period. If a person knows that he or she is a successor but does not renounce the succession within the prescribed period, the person will be deemed to have accepted it.
In the case of an insolvent succession, the successors who choose to accept the succession are not required to pay the debts of the deceased that exceed the value of the property they receive, provided the formalities set out in the Civil Code of Québec are followed.
Persons who have renounced the succession become strangers to the succession and can be sued for any action they undertake after the renunciation. Furthermore, persons who have renounced the succession can no longer have access to the succession's information.
A successor who wishes to renounce a succession must ask the notary to prepare the renunciation through a notarial act en minute or make a judicial declaration before the deadline prescribed by law. Moreover, the successor must request that the renunciation be published in the register of personal and movable real rights.
If the successor is a minor, a tutor must help them meet these obligations.