So you’ve been named a liquidator in a will – what next? 

If you’ve never acted as a liquidator before (which most people haven’t!) you might be wondering what that means for you. In this article we’ll discuss everything you need to know about being a liquidator of a succession in Quebec.

First things first..

What Is A Liquidator?

A liquidator of a succession in Quebec is a person designated in a will to help wrap up an estate and help carry out the wishes in a will.

Most often an liquidator is an individual, a trusted family member or friend of the person who created the will. However, some people will appoint corporate or professional liquidators as well.

Outside of Quebec, this role is commonly referred to as an executor.

Learn more about what a liquidator is →

What Does A Liquidator Of A Will Do?

A liquidator is in charge of taking care of your estate and succession. They are responsible for communicating with your heirs and legatees to manage the settlement of your estate, following the direction laid out in your will.

The liquidator plays a very important role and there are a lot of things a liquidator will need to do. This can include anything from distributing assets, collecting debt, paying bills, and handling your funeral or burial wishes.

Why Would Someone Name Me As A Liquidator In Their Will?

A liquidator is one of the most important roles after someone passes away. While there are many responsibilities involved, it’s also a sign that the person trusts you and your judgement. They are trusting you to make important decisions on their behalf after they're gone.

If you know ahead of time that you’ve been named as liquidator, it’s usually helpful to speak with them to make sure you understand their wishes . As well, make sure to ask them where you can find a copy of their will when the time comes. 

Depending on whether the testator has a Notarial will* or a will in front of witnesses, you may need to look in different ways.

*Unfortunately, due to unexpected changes in Quebec's legislation, our Notarial Will plans are temporarily unavailable. Check back soon for more updates.

What Are The Duties And Responsibilities Of A Liquidator?

A liquidator of a succession is an extremely important role and carries many responsibilities. Some responsibilities and duties of an liquidator include:

  • Organizing funeral and burial wishes
  • Paying off debts you owe
  • Advertising for creditors (to collect any debt that’s owed)
  • Distributing assets to legatees
  • Selling property and/or businesses (if necessary)
  • Filing final tax returns
  • Communicate with heirs and legatees

Do I Have To Accept The Role Of Liquidator?

No – even if you are named a liquidator in a will, you are not required to accept the role. Being the liquidator can be time-consuming and can come with personal risk. If you are unwilling or unable to accept the responsibility, you can always choose not to accept. This applies even if you are unexpectedly named the liquidator and you do not find out until the testator has passed. 

The only exception is that if you are the sole heir of the deceased, you cannot refuse the role.

This is why many wills include a backup liquidator, just in case! If you do not appoint a liquidator in your will, your heirs will either share the role among themselves, one or more of your heirs will act as liquidator, or they will appoint someone who is not an heir to be liquidator. 

However, if someone lets you know that they would like to name you as their liquidator, it’s important to let them know if you are uncomfortable with the role sooner rather than later. This way they can choose another person and update their documents accordingly.

Does The Liquidator Of A Will Get Paid?

Being an executor is a large responsibility. In Quebec, liquidators are entitled to claim compensation for their time and work. This amount is either set in the will or decided by the heirs. If the liquidator is also an heir, they are not automatically entitled to compensation, but this can be arranged for by the heirs or outlined in the will. Compensation depends on factors such as the size of the estate, the effort required to administer the estate etc.

Wills made with Willful do not outline executor compensation but a will made with a lawyer might.

Is A Trustee The Same As A Liquidator?

An executor and an estate trustee are two different roles, but they can be the same person. (For example, with a Willful will, one person is both the trustee and liquidator). The difference is that liquidators only take care of the succession process. Once that is completed (typically 12-18 months), their role is ended.

A trustee may act in a role for a longer period of time. For example, with Willful the testator may have a testamentary trust for minor children. These trusts hold assets for minor children until the child reaches the age stipulated in the will (often 18, 21, or 25). The trustee would manage that trust by filing tax returns and releasing funds for the child’s tutor. As such, this role can be ongoing and take longer to end.

Can A Liquidator Live In A Different Province/Country Than The Person Who Created The Will?

Each province in Canada has its own rules around executors and liquidators from outside the province to post bond. This is also known as a probate bond or a fiduciary bond. These estate bonds are to help protect the beneficiaries and the deceased testator and make sure their wishes are carried out correctly. 

If you have been named a liquidator to a will in a different jurisdiction than that you currently live in, consider speaking with the testator to make sure that both of you are familiar with the implications so there are no surprises in the future.

Are There Any Personal Risks When Acting As A Liquidator?

A liquidator plays an important role in ensuring that the wishes of the testator are carried out. That being said, being a liquidator can carry considerable personal risk. If you decide the risks are too great for your own comfort, you can always decline the role.

Please note that Willful is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice. All information in our Learn Centre is general and public information can also be researched through your provincial Attorney General website.