In the Province of Quebec, there are two (2) general categories of estates that determine the distribution of a deceased individual’s property:
When a person dies without leaving a last will and testament, their estate is referred to as being intestate, also known as a legal succession.
An intestate estate devolves to the heirs based on the rules set out at articles 653 & following
of the Civil Code of Quebec. These articles lay out the order according to which relatives of the Deceased inherit and the proportions of the estate received by each heir.
By way of illustration, in accordance with Article 666 of the Civil Code of Quebec, if a person with a spouse and children dies without having left a will, one third (1/3) of the deceased person’s estate would devolve to their spouse and two thirds (2/3) would devolve to their children in equal portions.
If a person does not want their estate to be subject to the default rules of succession set out at articles 653 & following of the Civil Code of Quebec, then they should execute a last will and testament.
When a person dies having left a last will and testament, their estate is referred to as being
testate, also known as a testamentary succession.
A testate estate devolves to the heirs and legatees by particular title named by the deceased in their last will and testament or in a codicil thereto.
When a person leaves a specific asset to another person in their will, such as a defined sum of money, the bequest is referred to as a legacy by a particular title. The beneficiary of such a
bequest is called a legatee by particular title.
When there are sufficient funds in an estate to pay its creditors and the estate is otherwise
manifestly solvent, the liquidator of the estate is supposed to distribute the legacies by particular title upon the legatees by particular title presenting themselves. (Article 808 C.c.Q.)
Legatees by particular title are, however, not considered to be heirs per se as they are not
entitled to a portion of the residue of the estate.
The residual portion of the estate, or residue, refers to the remaining property in the estate
after all creditors and legatees by particular title have been paid. The beneficiaries of these
types of bequests are the heirs of a testate estate, also known, depending on the case, as the
universal legatees or legatees by general title.