Depending upon the complexity of your needs and concerns, a will can range from a simple will to a trust under will (protection of minor children, protection of incapacitated persons upon reaching the age of majority, significant assets, etc.). I will provide you with the best advice to draw up a will based on your particular needs.
Before settling an estate, you have to find out if the deceased had a will and, if so, the type of will. There are three types of wills recognized by the Quebec legal system: notarial wills (will drawn up by a notary), wills made in the presence of witnesses, and holograph wills.
If the deceased had a notarial will, a will made in the presence of witnesses, or a holograph will
A notarial will is the most common form of legal document for estate settlement. Procedures for estate settlement begin with searching for a will at the Registre des dispositions testamentaires de la Chambre des notaires du Québec (Registry of Testamentary Dispositions of the Notary Chamber of Quebec) and the Registre du Barreau du Québec (Registry of the Bar Association of Quebec). As a notary, I have privileged access and can quickly obtain search certificates. Wills made in the presence of witnesses and holograph wills are also acceptable, but must be probated to ensure that the minimal requirements of the Civil Code of Quebec are respected. This process only validates that the requirements have been met and does not preclude subsequent disputes by other parties.
If the deceased has not left a will
When there is no will, the Civil Code of Quebec determines the legal heirs of the deceased person. If the deceased was married, the matrimonial rights must first be addressed: the process starts by establishing the family patrimony, then the matrimonial regime (partnership of acquests, community of property or separation as to property).