Partitioning of the family patrimony and liquidation of the matrimonial or civil union regime

If the deceased was married or in a civil union when he or she died, you must, as the liquidator responsible for the succession:

  • partition the family patrimony;
  • liquidate the matrimonial or civil union regime.

These steps must be taken before settling the rest of the succession, whether testamentary or legal.

Partition of the family patrimony

The property in the family patrimony is divided according to its value. In other words, it is the value of the property, and not the property itself, that is partitioned.

Under the law, half the net value of all the following property devolves to the surviving spouse:

  • all residences used by the family (including houses, condos and cottages);
  • the furniture used by the family to furnish or decorate the residences;
  • the motor vehicles used for family transportation;
  • the rights accrued in a pension plan during the marriage or civil union.

Example

It is your job to settle Andrew’s succession. When preparing the inventory, you produce the following table showing the value of the family patrimony belonging to Andrew and his wife Patricia.

Value of the family patrimony
BiensAndréPierrette
Family residence$100,000$0
Secondary residence$0$25,000
Furniture$0$15,000
Cars$15,000$10,000
REER$70,000$40,000
Total$185,000$88,000

The total value of the family patrimony is $273,000.

Each spouse's share is therefore one half, so Patricia is entitled to $136,500. 

To partition the family patrimony, you must therefore pay Patricia $48,500. This amount is the difference between: 

  • Patricia's legal share of the family patrimony ($136,500);
  • the value of the property already belonging to her ($88,000).

Property not included in the family patrimony

Because the family patrimony is being partitioned as a result of the death of one of the spouses, you must exclude the following rights or benefits:

  • the benefits accrued or entered during the marriage or civil union in a retirement plan governed or established by a statute under which the surviving spouse has a right to a death benefit;
  • the earnings registered during the marriage or civil union in the Québec Pension Plan ou or in equivalent programs.

For further information on this subject, please see the Family Patrimony portion of the Marriage and Civil Union section.

Renunciation of the family patrimony

The surviving spouse may renounce all or part of the family patrimony in a notarial act.

To be valid, the renunciation must be registered in the Registre des droits personnels et réels mobiliers within one year from the first day of entitlement to the partition.

Liquidation of the matrimonial or civil union regime

Because the deceased was married or in a civil union, you must liquidate all the property that is not included in the family patrimony, according to the rules of the spouses’ matrimonial or civil union regime, before distributing the succession.

Once the family patrimony has been liquidated, you must divide the deceased’s other property according to the rules of the spouses’ matrimonial or civil union regime.

This will allow you to give the surviving spouse his or her share of the succession.

For further information on matrimonial regimes, see the section entitled Marriage and civil union.

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