When adding certain categories of assets, our system will require additional details on the type of Ownership.
In Quebec, all property is classified as either "Immovable" (ie, land and real estate) or "Movable" (ie, any physically movable object, as well as claims and obligations). Additionally, as a general rule the Quebec Civil Code favors the exclusive / individual ownership of assets, with the exception of Immovables (real estate) and bank accounts, which can be co-owned.
The different Ownership types in Quebec are
- Separate Property
- Joint Ownership (for Bank Accounts)
- Undivided Co-Ownership (for Real Estate)
- Divided Co-Ownership (for Real Estate)
1. Separate Property
An Asset is considered Separate Property if it is exclusively owned by a single individual. For example, a Bank Account or Real Estate is considered Separate Property if it is under only the deceased's name. Additionally, Cash on Hand can only be listed as Separate Property.
Likewise, the Ownership type for a Liability refers to whether the deceased is fully responsible for a Liability, or if, for example, that Liability is shared with a spouse or business partner.
It's important to note that in Quebec the following assets are considered part of the Family Patrimony, and their value (not the assets themselves) must be shared 50-50 between the two spouses when one dies, regardless of the ownership type and which spouse they belong to:
- Any home the family uses (ie, not a rental or commercial property), including a secondary residence, vacation home, RV, or even a boat if it is used by the family as often as a vacation home would be
- All of the objects that furnish or decorate those family homes and are used by the family, except those used by only one spouse (such as the furniture in one spouse's closed office)
- All motor vehicles used by the family (ie, excluding for example a motorcycle used by only one spouse)
- The benefits or earnings accrued during the marriage under a retirement or pension plan, except those accrued under a plan granting right to death benefits to the surviving spouse
Additionally, depending on the Matrimonial Regime, other assets may be considered common to the marriage or civil union, in which case their value or ownership would be shared 50-50 with the surviving spouse, regardless of whether they are under the deceased or the surviving spouse's name.
For more information, see our section about the Spousal Partition and the rules of Family Patrimony and Matrimonial Regimes.
2. Joint Ownership (Bank Account)
A Bank Account can be jointly owned, in which case both owners are considered to own the asset 50-50. If the deceased owned a joint bank account, the financial institution will likely freeze the account at the death.
In Quebec, the other account holder will not automatically become the sole owner of the account. Rather, the asset will have to be considered in the Matrimonial Regime (if applicable) and in the deceased's estate, to be distributed according to the will.
3. Undivided Co-Ownership (Real Estate)
In an Undivided Co-Ownership, the co-owners each own a share of the property as a whole, without a physical division of the property. Co-owners are liable proportionately to their shares for the costs of administration and other common charges for the property.
Owners exclusively own their shares and may hypothecate (or mortgage) their share, meaning creditors can exercise their rights (such as taking possession of the co-owner's share of the property) in case of default; the co-owners are not liable for the other owners' hypothecs.
4. Divided Co-Ownership (Real Estate)
In a Divided Co-Ownership, each co-owner exclusively owns a private portion of the property, as well as a proportional share of the common portions of the property (eg. roof, outside walls, and land).
The rules around hypothecating their shares are the same as in an Undivided Co-Ownership, meaning that creditors can exercise their rights on a co-owner's share of the property in case of default, and the other co-owners are not liable for their co-owners' obligations.