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 a 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.
A successor who wishes to renounce a succession must follow the steps below. If the successor is a minor, he or she must be assisted by a tutor.
Claim the deceased's body.
The heirs or successors must claim the deceased's body and arrange his or her funeral. The succession is responsible for the funeral expenses. However, if the succession does not have the money necessary to pay the expenses, the person who signed the contract with the funeral home may be held personally liable for paying them.
Ask the notary to prepare the renunciation through a notarial act en minute.
The succession can be renounced through a notarial act en minute or a judicial declaration accepted by a judge and published in the register of personal and movable real rights (RDPRM).
If there is a will, the successors listed in it must renounce the succession. If there is no will, the succession must be renounced by the deceased's spouse by marriage or civil union and by the persons related to the deceased by blood or adoption.
Gather the following documents:
- form BD-82.1-V, Request to Open a File for an Unclaimed Succession;
- a proof of death from the Directeur de l'état civil (a certificate of death or a copy of the act of death);
- the attestation of death from the funeral home;
- the will search certificate from the Chambre des notaires du Québec;
- the will search certificate from the Barreau du Québec;
- a certified copy of the act of renunciation of the succession;
- a certified copy of the confirmation of publication of the act of renunciation in the RDPRM;
- the inventory of property with the names of the individuals interested in acquiring the property and photos of the property;
- the deceased's personal documents used in the liquidation of the succession (bank statements, insurance policy, etc.);
- a copy of the most recent marriage contract, if applicable;
- a copy of the most recent divorce judgment, if applicable;
- the last will of the deceased, if applicable;
- the renunciation of the office of the designated liquidator, if applicable;
- the information documents from the trustee in bankruptcy, if applicable;
- any other relevant documents, such as the tutorship judgment if some heirs are minors.
Other documents may be requested in certain circumstances.
Send (or ask the notary to send) all documents to the following address:
Direction des successions non réclamées
500, boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest, bureau 10.00
Montréal (Québec) H2Z 1W7
Once we have received the documents and verified that the succession can be considered unclaimed, we will open the file and become the liquidator of the succession.
Successors who have renounced the succession can no longer intervene in the liquidation. However, they retain their right to accept it for 10 years from the day that right arose, provided the succession has not been accepted by another. In such a case, the successor becomes a heir and takes the succession in its actual condition at that time and subject to the rights acquired by third persons in the property of the succession.
The heir must then ask a notary to draft a notice of retraction of the renunciation that must be published in the RDPRM. The heir must also complete form BD-81.10-V, Succession Claim. Note that other documents may be requested in certain circumstances.
The renunciation can also be retracted by judicial declaration accepted by a judge. The notice of retraction must be published in the RDPRM.
A person who did know that he or she was a successor or has not made that fact known can also claim the succession within 10 years from the day his or her right arose. Once that period has expired, the person is deemed to have renounced the succession.
Succession that is being liquidated
An heir who claims the succession before the end of the liquidation takes it in its actual condition.
Succession that has been liquidated
If funds remain after the succession has been liquidated and all creditors reimbursed, the funds are remitted to the State (into the Generations Fund). However, any person who can prove that he or she is an heir within 10 years following the opening of the succession (or the day on which the person's right arose) can claim the balance of the succession.
For any questions concerning family patrimony, contact your legal adviser or refer to the Ministère de la Justice website.