Talking with an Estate Lawyer

Estate Planning: How to Settle an Estate

This article seeks to elaborate on how consulting with an estate lawyer can help you plan your estate in a timely manner so that you can be prepared to see that your will and estate properly executed at the time of your passing.


Judge gavel and key chain symbolizing estate law required.

People who have inherited, earned and or built wealth over the years of their life will often have an estate of some value that will have to be looked after at some point following an individual’s death. This general term estate refers to the assets a person holds until the time of his or her death. Settling an estate is the process that occurs after that person passes on. It’s a legal process that liquidates the assets and distributes them to the proper heirs.

Learn how to settle your estate in Montreal, Canada, where the laws bind the process into a neat yet complex timeline.

1. Estate Law as it relates to: Managing the Will

Settling an estate begins by obtaining the death certificate at Quebec’s registrar of civil status. The executor of a will or liquidator performs this task. This person is the designated director of the settlement process. He or she will complete all tasks for this single inheritance.

The liquidator looks for all wills whether they’re notarized or not. If a non-notarized will is found, it must go through a process called probate in order to be verified. Going through probate will lengthen the settlement process, however.

NOTE: Please note that at Sabbagh & Associé we work closely with notaries (when a notary is required) that are well versed with the law surrounding wills and estates.

2. Estate Law as it relates to: Publishing the Notice

The liquidator doesn’t go without notice during their work on the estate.

In fact, these professionals must register or publish their names on the Register of Personal and Movable Real Rights or RPMRR. This government notice makes the estate transparent to anyone who’s concerned about legitimate movement and distribution of the assets. The liquidator is officially in charge of this process that can take six to 12 months in some cases. They can work closely with an estate lawyer to maintain validity across every settlement step.

3. Estate Law as it relates to: Converting Accounts and Taking Inventory

Any bank accounts in the deceased’s name must be converted into estate accounts. The liquidator can proceed with estate planning when all assets are consolidated into one account, for example. In addition, this conversion unfreezes the funds so that they can be distributed as necessary.

The liquidator also claims any funds that may be due to the deceased, such as life insurance. As the accounts are finalized, they’re counted and inventoried down to the smallest asset. Every penny must be accounted for by the liquidator or estate lawyer.

4. Estate Law as it relates to: Communicating with the Heirs

As you learn more about how to settle an estate, it becomes clear that the legal will is the most important document on several levels. For instance, a legal will determines who receives the deceased’s funds. The liquidator must find and notify each heir who’s named in the will. If there isn’t a legitimate will, the settlement process can take much longer as the courts become involved for legal interpretation.


Last will testament

Heirs have a right to claim or denounce their inheritance, which is part of the liquidator’s job as well.

5. Estate Law as it relates to: Closing the Inventory and Paying Debts

With the estate in order, the liquidator closes the inventory with an official notification to the RPMRR. Anyone who has a concern or claim to the inheritance can see the inventory in full.

The liquidator continues with the settlement process by paying all debts from the estate’s accounts. Ideally, the estate will have enough funds to cover any outstanding debts. The remainder can be divided out to the proper heirs.

6. Estate Law as it relates to: Declaring Taxes

Taxes are essentially due once the deceased person passes on. The liquidator must prepare both federal and provincial taxes for the deceased and the estate. Proof of death must accompany these documents and any owed taxes should be paid. No distributions from the estate can be made until the taxes are certified. The liquidator should receive a Clearance Certificate from the federal government along with a Certificate Authorizing the Distribution of Property from the province of Quebec as proof of completing the taxes.

7. Estate Law as it relates to: Distributing the Wealth

The estate can be officially distributed to the heirs when the tax certificates are finalized, and all debts are paid.

The liquidator creates a final account of the estate to show the heirs. They’ll each receive their specific part of the estate at this time. There may be other details, such as dividing a physical property among several heirs, that must be attended to before the distribution is considered complete.

8. Estate Law as it relates to: Closing the Estate

The settlement isn’t complete until its final notice is posted in the RPMRR. It tells everyone that the estate has been officially distributed to the rightful heirs. When the liquidator completes these steps in full, he or she is free from any legal ramifications. Any overlooked steps during the settlement can make the liquidator liability for penalties and other fees. For this reason, liquidators take each step with careful precision.

For all your estate, will and or estate planning needs, contact Sabbagh & Associé at today.

Our firm can walk you through the settlement process and answer any questions on your mind. Your loved one’s estate deserves dignity and respect as it’s moved to the rightful beneficiaries. The process’s complexities are simplified with our firm’s extensive experience.

NOTE: This article does not constitute legal advice from or legal opinion. It is only used to inform readers about certain aspects of tax law.