Who can inherit a succession?

To inherit, a person must possess the qualities required by law. The state and natural persons who exist that the time the succession opens, including absentees presumed to be alive at that time and children conceived but not yet born, may inherit. [1] Legal persons, such as companies, may also inherit under certain conditions.

What is the different between a “successor”, an “heir” and a “legatee by particular title”?

According to the Civil Code of Quebec, a successor is a person who receives, by will, a universal legacy by will, or, when there is no will, a person to whom the succession devolves by law. [2] An heir is a successor who has accepted a succession.

A person who receives by particular title receives only a portion of the succession. This person is not considered an heir. However, this person must possess the same required qualities to inherit. [3] The legatee by particular title is not responsible for the deceased’s debts on the property that he receives, unless the remainder of the succession cannot cover these debts. In this case, the legatee is responsible, but only up to the value of the property he takes.

A person may not inherit if they are considered unworthy by law or is declared unworthy. When a person is unworthy by law, they are automatically disqualified from inheriting. A person is unworthy by law when they are: [4]

    • a person convicted of making an attempt on the life of the deceased;

    • a person deprived of parental authority over his child, with the exemption for the child from the obligation to provide support, with respect to that child’s succession.

    A person may be declared unworthy when they have: [5]

      • subjected the deceased to ill treatment or who has otherwise behaved towards him in a seriously reprehensible manner;

      • concealed, altered or destroyed in bad faith the will of the deceased;

      • hindered the testator in the drawing up, amendment or revocation of his will

      A successor may address the court so that it may declare an heir unworthy by filing a motion within a year of the opening of the succession or within a year of having knowledge of the cause of unworthiness. [6]

      However, if the deceased was aware of the cause of unworthiness and nevertheless conferred a benefit on that person or did not modify his will when he could have done so.

      For more information regarding your file and how these laws may apply to you, we invite you to contact us.

      Text written by Me Jennyfer Pelletier

      [1] 617 et 618 CCQ

      [2] 619 CCQ

      [3] 617, 618, 739 CCQ; Marilyn Piccini Roy, Collection de droit 2020-2021, Volume 3 – Personnes et successions, Titre III – Les successions, Chapitre II – Les qualités requises pour succéder

      [4] 620 CCQ

      [5] 621 CCQ

      [6] 623 CCQ

      [7] 622 CCQ