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Quebec’s New Account Declaration to More Easily Deal With Certain Co-Owned Accounts

Oct 31st, 2022

By Daniel Frajman

Quebec's new Act respecting remittance of deposits of money to account co-holders who are spouses or former spouses (also known as the Remittance of Deposits Act) [1] (the "Act"), is generating interest.

The Act was passed in June 2022 and will come into force on December 8, 2022.

The purpose of the Act is to allow a surviving spouse or former spouse to take his or her share of a joint or co-owned account (i.e., an account with "co-holders", as the Act puts it) relating to the deposit of money in Quebec, it appears simply by presenting a death certificate, so long as the spouses had deposited (prior to the death) a declaration with the financial institution setting out the respective ownership share of the parties with respect to the account. This will save some time when accessing the account post-death as although an official Quebec death certificate will almost certainly be required (this can take a few months to obtain), there does not seem to be the need to provide a will, a will search or have authorized liquidators come forward and be willing to transact with respect to the share owned by the Estate.

Interestingly, prior to the death of one of the parties, the parties can deposit a new declaration with the financial institution at any time to change the ownership shares, which might be useful in certain circumstances.

Unfortunately, the Act is very briefly drafted and contains many undefined terms, such that there is uncertainty as to the meaning in the Act of the basic definitions, “spouse”, “deposit institution”, and “demand deposit account”, so it will likely take some time for the meaning of these terms to be clarified. Nevertheless, for basic savings and chequing accounts at a bank or a caisse populaire, the Act would usually clearly apply if the spouse/former spouse co-owners file the abovementioned declaration with the financial institution.

So, the Act essentially provides, in the particular circumstances where it applies, a kind of joint ownership with what they call in a common law a right of survivorship, although the Act does not actually use the term survivorship.  Perhaps due in part to Quebec having inexistent or very minor probate fees, Quebec property law does not (unlike in the common law provinces) provide for rights of survivorship on death with respect to jointly owned property.  Furthermore, absent the provisions of the Act, case law in Quebec provides a presumption (different in many ways from that in the common law provinces) that co-owned or jointly owned property (even if the two owners are spouses) is owned in equal shares by the parties. [2]

Of the interpretive questions concerning the Act that will have to be dealt with, it will be interesting to see if the term “demand deposit account” is extended to include certain RRSPs, RIFs and other registered pension or similar accounts (which the Quebec case law often interpret as investment accounts between a creditor and a debtor [3], so long as they are not annuities, such that such registered accounts arguably would be seen as demand deposit accounts that are governed by the Act).   But even if it ends up being acknowledged that such registered accounts are governed by the Act, it appears that any attempt to transfer ownership shares with regard to a registered account likely requires much more care than using the declaration required by the Act, in order to avoid inadvertently de-registering the registered account or other negative consequences under the Income Tax Act (Canada) or Taxation Act (Quebec).

In conclusion, it appears that the purpose of the Act is to allow the parties (spouses or former spouses) who are co-holders of the accounts in question to override the Quebec presumption of co-ownership in equal shares, by setting out in a direct and accessible way the agreement of the parties on the co-ownership split of the account. [4] Given that so many spouses/former spouses have co-owned demand deposit accounts, the Act, after it comes into force in December 2022, will become a familiar tool.

Do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions on the new Remittance of Deposits Act, or on other ownership-related or similar matters.


[1] Statutes of Quebec 2022, chapter 22, section 291.

[2] Laliberté v. Sansoucy, 2013 QCCA 875 (presumption of ownership in equal shares).

[3] Bank of Nova Scotia v. Thibault, 2004 SCC 29.

[4] Sections 4 and 2(2) of the Act (declaration setting out co-ownership split, for purposes of the institution remitting shares on death of a co-holder; in absence of a declaration, respective equal shares appear to be presumed).