I pronounce you husband and wife… by law.  That’s a strange sentence, isn’t it?  Yet, whether you like it or not, being married means having legal rights and obligations.  Which ones?  To do this, you can consult your notary and read the following lines.

To begin, let us talk about the rights and duties of the spouses.  They have the same rights towards each other throughout the duration of the marriage.  They must respect and be faithful to each other, assume their parental responsibilities, choose the family residence and contribute to the well-being of the home and the family.  What about protection?

 

Protection and management

The law provides that the couple, either during marriage or during the divorce procedure, take care and protect the material property and make the debt management.  First, the spouses must choose a matrimonial regime.  The latter essentially concerns the rules relating to the management of property, money and debts during the marriage and also determines the division of possessions in the event of a divorce or death of one of the spouses.  There are different types of matrimonial regime, but it is quite possible to set up a tailor-made regime when signing the marriage contract.

Regarding the protection of family property and residence, the law has provided for this!  During the marriage, one spouse must obtain the consent of the other in order to sell, lease, or put a mortgage on the family residence.

Finally, with regard to the family patrimony, the law stipulates that the net value of the couple’s assets must be shared in the event of divorce or death. The assets that compose the family patrimony are listed in the Civil Code of Québec.

Note that the spouses are responsible for debts acquired during the marriage.  It is also highly recommended to make an inventory of the property and its value acquired before marriage, in order to better determine the value accumulated during the marriage.

 

Testament (Will) before marriage?

One question to ask is about the testament.  It is possible that a spouse made his or her testament before the marriage.  Does the deed cancel out because you have drafted a marriage contract?  Not at all!  In fact, everything you have included in your will draft before marriage will be applied at the time of death.  However, the last wishes may conflict before the division of the property of the marriage contract.  In addition, the sharing between heirs may also be in conflict with the rest.

What to do about it?

When you get married, you have rights, and the law offers you certain protections, but also obligations; however, in the event of a death, it can be different, especially if one of the spouses already had a valid will before the union.  To avoid misunderstandings, ask your notary to write a new will or amend your current will, to take inconsideration your new situation and marital status.

 

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