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Planning your estate

Have you made a will? If so, great. If not, do you know how your assets will be disposed after death? The Quebec government via the "Civil Code of Québec" directs how property is allocated upon death of a person without a will.

Whether you are married, common-law partner or single, a will allows you to distribute assets according to YOUR wishes, and not those of the government. If you have a common law partner, it is particularly IMPORTANT to have an updated will. Without a will, your spouse might not receive anything. Even if you have been living together for the past 30 years and have children together.

Here are some possible scenarios and their impact upon the distribution of your assets should you die without a will:

 

Family Situation

Legal Heirs

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Robert died leaving a wife, children and other relatives

o   Married spouse

o   Children

o   Father, mother & siblings

o   1/3

o   2/3

o   Nothing

Lisa died leaving a common-law partner (together for 30 years), children and other relatives

o   Common-law partner

o   Children

o   Father, mother & siblings

o   Nothing

o   Everything

o   Nothing

Leo died childless, leaving wife and other relatives

o   Married spouse

o   Father and mother

o   Siblings

o   2/3

o   1/3

o   Nothing

Michel died without children, without a father, without mother, leaving a wife and siblings

o   Married spouse

o   Siblings

o   2/3

o   1/3

Annie died without children, without father or mother or siblings, leaving a husband

o   Married spouse

o   Everything

Sylvie died unmarried (or partner), without children, leaving parents & siblings

o   Father and mother

o   Siblings

o   Partner

o   1/2

o   1/2

o   Nothing

*Source : Manuel « Mise à jour en fiscalité pour les planificateurs financiers et les conseillers en placement » produit par le Centre québécois de formation en fiscalité – CQFF inc.

Some will postpone doing it because of notary fees which can be high at times. It is important to know, however, that you can "shop » for your lawyer, and that fees can be negotiated especially if you use the services of a notary for another operation at the same time, such as buying a house for example. A notarized greatly simplifies the work of your executor because it is difficult to challenge a notarized will and its registration will confirm that it is the last legal written will, hence truly representing your wishes. Otherwise, it is always possible to write a holographic will. Although not idea, it will at least distribute your property according to your wishes.

This type of will "complicates" the settlement of your estate, given it will have to first be approved by a Court. For a holographic will to be valid, it must follow certain rules: it must be written by hand, be dated and signed by you. It should be clear that this is a will and instructions must not be misleading or open to interpretation.

You could also opt for a will with witnesses. If so, this will could be written on the computer or prepared by another person than yourself. Two witnesses must countersign your signature, in your presence. If the will is computerized, you and your witnesses must sign every page.

In all cases, it is strongly suggested to inform a trusted person of the existence of a will and where it is located. You are responsible for its custody, although it can also be left with a notary. A holograph or witnessed will is better than not having any, but a notarial will is much more complete (the notary can provide various alternative scenarios) and will greatly simplify your estate.

   

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