Marilyn Piccini Roy, Ad. E., TEP

Lawyer, Partner and Head of the Estates, Wills and Trusts Group


English, French, Italian




Marilyn Piccini Roy is a partner and the head of our Estates, Wills and Trusts Group. Her practice focuses on wealth management, estates, trusts, regimes of protective supervision, and elder law. She serves as counsel to private clients, trust companies, philanthropists, and individual and institutional trustees.

Recognized as a leading lawyer in trusts and estates, wealth management and tax planning, Marilyn is also well known for her ability to interact with a wide network of professionals, both in Canada and abroad.

She regularly advises individuals and institutions on multi-jurisdictional matters, particularly issues of private international law, and those dealing with estates, trusts, matrimonial property and regimes of protective supervision. In her international practice, she represents Canadian residents for their estate planning. These clients are mainly from Quebec and own property in the US or Europe, or members of their families live abroad.

Marilyn also advises Quebec retirees vacationing in Florida on all types of estate law issues. Furthermore, she informs clients with respect to the recognition of the rights and powers of foreign liquidators, executors, trustees, tutors or mandataries to act in relation to property situated in Quebec.

Representative files and mandates

  • Extensive and in-depth experience in reviewing estate and trust documents—from personal trusts in the estate-planning context, to charitable trusts, and private purpose and commercial trusts
  • Frequently retained to convert common law trusts into trusts governed by Quebec civil law, especially in the context of commercial trusts for financial institutions, and federal and provincial government departments
  • Drafted many legal opinions on a wide range of estate and trust issues, involving the validity and enforceability of trusts, the construction and interpretation of problematic clauses in testamentary and trust instruments, and the variation and termination of trusts
  • Retained as an expert witness in estate litigation proceedings instituted in another province, involving an unjust enrichment claim between the estates of two spouses formerly from Quebec
  • Served as a witness in estate litigation in England with respect to the governing law of a will, and in proceedings in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the Italian courts, both involving the validity of Quebec estate documents
  • Prepared many applications to the Superior Court of Quebec for declaratory judgments or juridical directions in contentious estate and trust matters

Marilyn has been involved in several landmark trust decisions that are significant because of the light they shed on the interpretation of the provisions of the law of trusts in the Civil Code of Québec:

  • Yared v. Karam in 2019, where the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a family residence acquired by a trust is included in the family patrimony
  • Québec (Curateur Public) c. A.N. (Succession de) in 2014, on the legitimacy of a discretionary trust as an effective estate planning device for a disabled beneficiary, and on the nature of the interest of a discretionary trust beneficiary
  • Bell c. Molson in 2012, on the investment obligations of trustees, diversification, and exculpatory clauses
  • Webster-Tweel c. Royal Trust Corporation of Canada in 2010, on trust accounting and the right to supervise trust administration
  • Fonds Norbourg Placements Équilibrés (Liquidation de) in 2007, on the concept of the trust patrimony
  • Piccini et Talpis in 2006, on the recognition of a foreign trust holding immovable property in Quebec
  • In the matter of the Estate of the Late Donald Speirs Dufty: The Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company c. Raymond Chabot Inc. in 2001, on the cy-près doctrine
  • Royal Trust c. Webster in 2000, on the duration of personal trusts

Relevant examples of her experience related to trust expertise include:

  • Advising the trustees of a family trust on income and capital distributions, cash reserves, trustee remuneration, record-keeping, and disclosure issues
  • Acting for a foreign institutional trustee of an offshore trust with Canadian resident beneficiaries in a novel restructuring to minimize the incidence of Canadian tax
  • Advising a family law lawyer in a contentious marital breakdown in determination of entitlements, where the majority of assets were held in a discretionary trust
  • Acting for Canadian and US citizens on the cross-border tax implications of their trust and estate plans, including the use of trusts to hold US real property or securities
  • Establishing trusts for private foundations
  • Advising German legal counsel on the validity and enforceability of a Quebec commercial trust with respect to the acquisition of shares of a gold fund
  • Drafting numerous commercial trusts for a variety of purposes—for example, holding real estate, appliance service contracts, insurance funds, escrowed funds, and investment and mutual funds
  • Drafting trusts for independent pension plans
  • Reviewing the French version of an aboriginal health care agreement
  • Providing a legal opinion in respect of five different aboriginal trust agreements established under Quebec law for housing, education and public transit purposes
  • Assisting in the review and drafting of a First Nations’ marine wildlife research trust
  • Reviewing a Quebec trust for petrochemical pollution clean-up purposes for the Quebec government
  • Providing advice on and drafting numerous special needs trusts for the disabled
  • Providing advice and her legal opinion with respect to the interpretation of criteria for a financial advisor in the context of an aboriginal trust
  • Drafting an aboriginal trust agreement for a Quebec First Nation and negotiating terms with the corporate trustee
  • Advising trustees on the operation of Aboriginal trusts
  • Opining on the partition and distribution of a trust for Inuit beneficiaries
  • Advising pension plan administrators on payments from an executive pension plan
  • Advising on numerous applications for judicial amendment and termination of trusts


  • Business Today: Named “Top 10 Influential Canadian Private Wealth Law Lawyer for 2023”
  • Designated Lawyer Emeritus by the Bar of Quebec (2013)
  • Chambers High Net Worth Guide: rated in Band 1 for Private Wealth Law, Canada (2017–2023)
  • STEP Canada: Volunteer of the Year award (2019)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: rated “AV Preeminent” for her skills and ethics

Best Lawyers in Canada directory:

  • Listed as a Trusts & Estates expert (2008-2024)
  • Trusts & Estates Lawyer of the Year, Montreal (2012, 2020)


  • Listed annually as “Consistently Recommended” for Estate & Personal Tax Planning — Estate Litigation

Who’s Who Legal directory:

  • Recommended as a Global Leader in the Private Client category (since 2020)
  • Recommended as a Canadian National Leader under the “Private Client” category (since 2016)


  • International Academy of Estate and Trust Law: Past Executive Councillor & Current Secretary
  • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP):
    • Member of the Canadian Editorial Board for the STEP Directory Jurisdictional Reports
    • Former member of:
      • The Organizing Committee for the STEP National Conference
      •  The Education Committee
      • The Awards Committee
      • The Editorial Board
  • Estates, Trusts & Pensions Journal: member of the Editorial Board
  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC): international fellow & member of the International Estate Planning Committee
  • Canadian Bar Association:
    • Past president
    • Current honorary member
    • National Wills, Estates and Trusts executive
    • Faculty member for the Wills, Estates and Trusts Fundamentals course for estate practitioners
  • Langdon Hall:
    • Chair (2018–2019)
    • Organizing Committee for Senior Practitioners of the Estate Planning & Litigation Forum


Thawing the Big Freeze: Bill 2 and Accessibility to Joint Accounts on Death

20 June 2022

On June 6, 2022, the Quebec legislator enacted an Act respecting remittance of deposits of money to account co-holders who are spouses or former spouses [Act]. That is part of the wide-reaching Bill 2, An Act respecting family law reform with regard to filiation and amending the Civil Code in relation to personality rights and […]

Impact of COVID-19 on Estate Planning: Quebec is Ahead of the Curve

3 April 2020

While we are witnessing the unfolding of unprecedented times, the coronavirus pandemic should also serve as a stark reminder of the importance of keeping your estate planning documents current. Although we do not presently and, perhaps will not for some time in the future, have the luxury of face-to-face personal meetings with our clients to […]

Don’t forget your de facto spouse in your estate planning!

18 September 2018

A periodical review of one’s personal affairs never hurts. Doing so, you should be aware of a rule of Quebec law that could have devastating consequences. If you are in a de facto spousal relationship, unless you dictate so in a will, your surviving spouse will have no right in your estate. Marilyn Piccini Roy […]

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Publications and Conferences

Academic Activities

  • McGill University Faculty of Law:
    • Sessional lecturer and former adjunct professor for courses on the Quebec law of trusts (1997–present)
    • Taught courses entitled “Successions, Gifts, Wills and Trusts” and “Administration of Property of Others and the Law of Trusts” for several years
  • Contributes to the Habilitas Foundation’s and McGill University’s newsletters


  • Annual Meeting of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law, Vienna, Austria, May 21-25, 2023
  •  Speaker, Plenary Session, “Practitioners’ Update: Estate and Trust Law (Québec)”, STEP Canada National Conference, Toronto, June 19, 2023
  • Speaker, “Exploring Disability and End-of-Life Issues,” Royal Bank of Canada Family Office Services Fall Conference, Miami, Florida, November 23, 2022
  • Speaker and Moderator, “Accounting Conundrums in the Civil Law and Common Law,” STEP Canada National Conference, June 15, 2022, online
  • Speaker, “Cross-Border Issues & Planning Considerations”, Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch, December 1, 2021
  • Speaker, “Usufruits au Québec et à l’étranger”, 2021 APFF Annual Conference, October 8, 2021
  • Speaker, “Québec, Les irréductibles civilistes: famille, succession, fiducie…”, webinaire, Private International Law Webinar, Chambre des notaires du Grand Paris, June 28, 2021
  • Speaker and moderator, “Have You Talked to Your Parents Recently?” STEP Canada National Conference, June 14, 2021, online
  • Speaker, “Incapacity at Home and Abroad: Jurisdictional Challenges”, STEP 2020 Speakers’ Series, October 27, 2020, online
  • Moderator and speaker, “The Global Testator: Multiple Wills Strategy”, STEP Canada National Conference, Toronto, Ontario, June 6–7, 2019
  • Annual meeting of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law, Tokyo, Japan, May 19–23, 2019
  • Chair, Senior Practitioners Estate Planning & Litigation Forum, Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ontario, April 14–16, 2019
  • Chair, “Debate: This house believes that freedom of testamentary disposition is better than forced heirship”, STEP Global Congress 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia, September 13–14, 2018
  • Moderator and speaker, “UFOs: Unfamiliar Foreign Objects from Civil Law Jurisdictions Landing in Common Law Territory”, STEP Canada National Conference, Toronto, Ontario, May 28–29, 2018
  • Annual Meeting of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law, Lisbon, Portugal, May 20–24, 2018
  • Chair, Senior Practitioners Estate Planning & Litigation Forum, Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ontario, April 22–24, 2018
  • “Later Life Planning, Professional Practice and Problem Solving in the Grey Zone”, Canadian Bar Association–Quebec Division, Montreal, Quebec, January 31, 2018
  • “Estate Planning 101: Death and Disability”, Concordia University Pensioners’ Association, Montreal, Quebec, November 7, 2017
  • “Will Formalities: Updates in Canada and Abroad”, STEP Canada National Conference, Toronto, Ontario, June 12–13, 2017
  • “Usufruct in Quebec”, The International Academy of Estate and Trust Law, Chicago, Illinois, May 23, 2017
  • “Raking over the Ashes and Burying the Hatchet: Disputes Arising over Funeral Arrangements and Disposition of Remains”, Senior Practitioners Estate Planning & Litigation Forum, Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ontario, April 23–25, 2017
  • “Power, Money, Sex and Drugs: Perspectives on Elder Law Today”, RBC Dominion Securities Inc., Montreal, Quebec, November 9, 2016
  • “Inter-provincial Issues: Key Differences Between Quebec Civil Law and Common Law”, CBA Will, Estate and Trust Fundamentals for Estate Practitioners course, Toronto, Ontario, October 15–18, 2015, repeated October 29–30, 2016
  • “The Impact of the European Regulation on Succession in Canada”, STEP Canada National Conference, Toronto, Ontario, June 9–10, 2016
  • “Litigating over International Estates — ‘The Italian Job’”, Senior Practitioners Estate Planning & Litigation Forum, Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ontario, April 24–26, 2016
  • “Financial Abuse and Financial Literacy”, STEP Canada National Conference, Toronto, Ontario, June 2015
  • “Losing Your Marbles at Home and Abroad: Mental Incapacity and Multi-Jurisdictional Planning”, Senior Practitioners Estate Planning & Litigation Forum, Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ontario, April 27–28, 2015
  • “Trusts in Some Civil Law Jurisdictions: The Quebec Experience”, STEP Global Congress, Miami, Florida, November 6–7, 2014
  • “Elder Law and Mediation”, ADR Institute of Canada Annual National Conference, October 23–24, 2014
  • “Are You Considering the Establishment of a Trust? Key Considerations from a Civil Law Perspective”, Aboriginal Trust Symposium, Montreal, September 22–23, 2014
  • “Selected Conflict-of-Laws Issues on Successions (Common Law and Quebec Civil Law Perspectives)” (which included trust issues), Senior Practitioners’ Estate Planning & Litigation Forum, Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ontario, May 12–14, 2014
  • “Using a Private Company as a Trustee in Various Canadian Jurisdictions” and “Selected Issues in Conflict of Laws for Testate Successions (Common Law and Civil Law Perspectives)”, STEP Canada National Conference, Toronto, Ontario, June 2013
  • “Estate Planning”, presented to McGill Development Officers, June 2012
  • “Trusts for Special Needs (Henson Trusts and Alter Ego Trusts)” presented to the Jewish Community Foundation, Montreal, June 2011
  • “How to Hold the Title to that Chalet and Bank Account in Quebec: Nuts and Bolts Issues in International Estate Planning”, presented at a panel discussion at the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) Annual Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, March 2011
  • “…except in Quebec”, presented at STEP Seminar on Estates and Trusts: Cross-Border Case Studies and Planning Issues, Ottawa, February 2011
  • “Case Studies on Cross-Border Situations Involving Death or Disability”, presented to T.E. Wealth/T.E. Mirador – Annual Advanced Planners Conference, Montreal, September 2010
  • “Reflections on the Earl Jones Aftermath: Real or Perceived Conflicts of Interest for Liquidators, Trustees and Mandataries”, presented to RBC Dominion Securities, September 2009
  • “The Quebec Trust or ‘Fiducie’”, panel on Fiducia in Latin America with a Comparison of the Laws of Fiducies in Other Jurisdictions, at the Annual Meeting of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law in Cartagena, Colombia, May 2009
  • “De-Mystifying the Quebec Trust”, panel on The Quebec Trust: What a Common Law Lawyer Needs to Know, STEP Canada National Conference, Toronto, June 18–19, 2009
  • “Trust Law Reform: The Quebec Experience”, presented at STEP Symposium, Toronto, November 2007
  • “Estate Planning for International Clients”, presented at STEP Europe Conference, Rome, October 2007
  • “Estate Planning 101: Death and Disability”, presented to The St. James Literary Society Inc., March 2007
  • “Estate and Disability Planning for Snowbirds”, STEP Montreal, March 2007
  • “Usufructs, Substitutions, Trusts”, presented to Royal Trust, November 2006
  • “Estate Planning 101: Death and Disability”, presented to HSBC Bank Canada, June 2006
  • “Estate Planning 101: Death and Disability”, presented to Investment Dealers Association of Canada, May 2006
  • “Successions, Trusts and Related Topics, presented to Real Estate Examiners”, April 2006
  • “Crossborder Issues for Snowbirds and Roaming Retirees”, Elderlaw CLE section at the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) annual conference, Winnipeg, August 2004 and at Elderlaw CLE section of the CBA, Ottawa, March 2006
  • “Case Studies on Cross-Border Situations Involving Death or Disability”, presented to STEP, Ottawa, February 2006
  • “Crossborder Issues for Snowbirds and Roaming Retirees”, presented to Royal Trust, Ottawa, 2004
  • Panelist on estate issues at the Jewish Community Foundation, Professional Development Seminar, June 2004
  • “Liability for Costs and Extra-Judicial Fees of Liquidators, Trustees and Beneficiaries”, presented to Royal Trust, May 2004
  • “Role of Advance Directives in Quebec Law”, panel at McGill University, November 2003 (commentary on acceptability of Quebec directives in foreign jurisdictions and the recognition of foreign directives in Quebec)
  • “Canadian Developments: Spousal Claims on Death and Divorce”, for a multi-jurisdictional (California, Switzerland, England and Canada) panel on important developments in the rights of spouses and their partners on death and divorce at The International Academy of Estate and Trust Law, Santiago, Chile, September 2003
  • “General Planning for the Older Client: A Multidisciplinary Approach”, for panel on the use of multiple wills and planning for Canadians with U.S. situs assets at the Elderlaw CLE section at the CBA annual conference, Montreal, August 2003
  • “Discretionary Trusts: Comparative Civil Law/Common Law Study”, at STEP Seminar, Montreal, 2001
  • “Foreign Situs Assets from a Quebec Perspective”, Canadian Institute Conference on Estate Planning, Toronto, November 1994


  • Collection de droit, École du Barreau, author of chapters “Les successions”, “Les donations” and “Les donations par contrat de mariage”, updated annually
  • Course material on Quebec Successions and Trusts for the STEP Certificate of Estate and Trust Administration 1 and 2, first published in 2015, and updates
  • “Leaving a Legacy: Bequests”, May 16, 2023
  • “The Shifting Family Paradigm in Quebec”, STEP Inside, January 2023, vol 22, no. 1, p.17
  • “Views from the Civil Law”, STEP Inside, October/November 2020, vol 19, no 3, p.10
  • “La fiducie : Québec”, Revue internationale du patrimoine, #07 – mars 2021, 79
  • Estate Planning During a Pandemic”, McGill Giving, August 20, 2020
  • “Usufruct in Quebec”, Trusts & Trustees, 2017
  • “Canada-US Estate Planning: Doesn’t Travel Well”, Trust Quarterly Review (2016) 12:3
  • “The Rectification Remedy in Quebec Civil Law”, Trust Quarterly Review, 2014
  • “Les successions” and “Les donations” in Personnes, famille et successions — Collection de droit, volume 3, 1994 to date
  • Chapter on Quebec Trust in Trusts in Prime Jurisdictions, Fifth edition, Globe Law and Business, 2019
  • “Sharing the Care: Financial and Legal Considerations in Planning for People with Mental Disabilities in Quebec” (also in French, under the title “Une responsabilité à partager: considérations financières et juridiques dans le cadre de la planification pour les personnes atteintes de déficience mentale au Québec”), AMI-Québec, 2010
  • “Planification générale pour les clients aînés: approche multidisciplinaire et par gestion de cas”, chapter in Conseiller les clients aînés, published by LexisNexis
  • “The Quebec Trust or ‘Fiducie’”, in the Journal of International Trust and Corporate Planning, 2009
  • “Canadian Trusts”, in Handbuch des Internationalen Stiftungrechts, Zerb Verlag, 2007
  • “Canadian Law and Practice” in International Personal Tax Planning Encyclopaedia, ed. R.C. Lawrence III, Tottel Publishing, 2007, 5/1
  • “Quebec Family Patrimony: Conditional Legacy not Against Public Order”, STEP Inside, 2006
  • “General Planning for the Older Client: A Case Management and Multidisciplinary Approach”, chapter in Advising the Older Client, 2005
  • “Discretionary Trusts: Civil Law Perspective”, Canadian Tax Journal, 2003

Articles Written for the Estates, Trusts & Pensions Journal

  • “Postscript from Quebec“, December 2021
  • “Entitlements of Surviving Spouses (Legal or De Facto) on Death: Quebec”, February 2019
  • “Quebec: ‘La Fente’ or Legal Devolution to Relatives of the Half-Blood”, December 2017
  • “Multiple Wills in Quebec”, December 2017
  • “Doesn’t Travel Well: Cross-Border Estate Planning in Canada and the U.S.”, December 2016
  • “Remuneration of Liquidators and Trustees in the Province of Quebec”, February 2015
  • “What Common Law Practitioners Should Know About a Quebec Notarial Will”, February 2015
  • “Legitimacy Accorded in Quebec to Estate Planning Technique for the Incapable: Québec (Curateur Public) c. A.N. (Succession de)”, May 2014
  • “Case Comment: A Pyrrhic Victory: Bell v. Molson”, March 2013
  • “Organ and Tissue Donation in Quebec”, May 2012
  • “Powers of Appointment: Civil Law and Common Law Comparisons”, September 2011
  • “Case Comment: Webster-Tweel v. Royal Trust Corporation of Canada”, September 2010
  • “Probate Jurisdiction in Quebec: In the Matter of the Estate of the Late Robert Fréderic Conrad Leclerc”, September 2010
  • “Capacity of Non-Trust Company to Hold Office as Liquidator, Trustee or Mandatary Under the Laws of Quebec”, September 2010
  • “Appointment, Replacement, Resignation and Removal of Trustees: The Quebec Position”, July 2009
  • “Useful Information for the Settlement of Estates with Quebec Connections: Will Search Certificates and Marriage Contracts”, December 2007
  • “Rights of De Facto Spouses”, September 2007
  • “Cross-Border Issues for Snowbirds and Roving Retirees”, March 2007
  • Book Review of Studies on the Quebec Law of Trusts by John Claxton, October 2005
  • “Same-Sex Equality”, April 2000

Community Involvement

  • Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation
  • Member of McGill University’s Strategic Giving Council
  • Member of the Habilitas Foundation’s Philanthropy Committee
  • Member of AMI-Québec’s Advisory Committee


Bachelor in Common Law and Civil Law (B.C.L./LL.B.)

McGill University Faculty of Law



University of Toronto


Master of Arts (MA)

University of Toronto


Bachelor of Arts (BA), Honours

University of Toronto


Call to Bar