In the context of the Code of Civil Procedure’s reform (hereinafter the “C.c.p.”), the legislator specifically addressed the following two (2) topics:

i) Safety deposit boxes;

ii) Access to wills.

a) Safety boxes and the manner in which they may be opened by way of article 478 C.c.p.:

Pursuant to the first (1st) paragraph of article 478 C.c.p., in the event that the person leasing the safety box passes away, the liquidator of his estate may open the box. In the absence of an appointed liquidator, the successors are legally authorized to open the box.

Alternatively, pursuant to the second (2nd) paragraph of article 478 C.c.p., any person receiving a court’s authorization may also open the safety box. This authorization is solely granted if the court deems that those who may have a right in the property contained within the box have been duly notified of the person’s application or that sufficient measures were taken to notify those who may have a valid claim for its contents. Note that the court may impose certain conditions regarding the opening of the safety box.

Also, pursuant to the third (3rd) paragraph of article 478 C.c.p., a notary or a bailiff must draw up minutes stating the names of the persons present at the opening of the safety box and describing the content of the box and whatever property was removed from said box. Should the lessee of the safety box be deceased, this task can only be accomplished by a notary.

b) Access to a will by an interested party by way of article 484 and 485 C.c.p.:

Pursuant to article 866 of the previous Code of Civil Procedure (hereinafter the “Previous C.c.p.”), notaries were only required to give access or issue copies of or extracts from any deed in their records, or in the records of which they are the assignee or custodian, to the parties or to their heirs or legal representatives.

However, with the coming into force of the C.c.p. as of January 1st, 2016, pursuant to the first (1st) paragraph of its article 484, notaries are henceforth bound to communicate these deeds to persons who, in the absence of a will, would have been called to the succession. These persons are more particularly determined in the order and according to the rules provided in the third (3rd) title (“Legal Devolution of Succession”) of the third (3rd) book (“Successions”) of the Civil Code of Québec.

In the event that the notary refuses such a request and a right or interest has been established, pursuant to article 485 C.c.p., a request may be deposited for a court order directing the notary to give access to or issue a copy of or extract from the deed.

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The above noted text should not be construed as providing legal advice or a statement of your claim. The process highlighted above are merely parameters and barometers and do not constitute any warranties and guaranties with regards to your file at hand. We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice with a licensed attorney from the Barreau du Quebec or a notary at the Chambre des Notaires. Each case must be seen and analysed on its merits as the legal process may be complex and cumbersome.