The deceased can designate the person or persons who will hold the office of liquidator of their estate in their last will and testament. The liquidator is responsible for the administration and “liquidation” of the estate, including making and publishing an inventory of the estate and paying the estate’s debts and legatees by particular title.
The liquidator is, more broadly speaking, an administrator of property of others as defined by the Civil Code of Quebec. As an administrator of property of others, the liquidator is generally bound by an obligation to act honestly, diligently and in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the estate.
In that a deceased may have appointed a liquidator who is also one among several beneficiaries of an estate, such as an heir, it is possible that a liquidator’s obligation to act in the interest of all the beneficiaries may conflict with their own personal interest as a beneficiary of the estate. While such a conflict of interest does not prevent that person from acting as liquidator, the liquidator must act prudently and diligently to ensure that they are not placing their own interests in front of those of the other beneficiaries.
If there is more than one liquidator named, then the liquidators are required to act in concert in virtue of article 787 C.c.Q., unless otherwise specified in the will.
A person named as liquidator in a will can refuse the office of liquidator.
The deceased may name replacement liquidators in the event of the refusal of office, resignation, incapacity, or death of the original liquidator(s) of the estate.
When a person dies without a will, and therefore without having designated a liquidator, the heirs act jointly as liquidators of the estate. However, a majority of the heirs can appoint one person (who may or may not be an heir) to act as liquidator.