Estate Litigation: Expression of Intention as a Will

As a team of Vancouver Estate litigation lawyers who practice regularly in this area,  everyone has horror stories of having to deal with issues arising from wills that are not clearly drafted. Additionally, the introduction of the Wills Estates and Succession Act has now provided litigators with a tool by which they can apply to the Court for an Order when there is a document that appears to express testamentary intent but that does not strictly comply with the requirements for a valid will.

This issue was recently considered by the British Columbia Supreme Court in the case of

Skopyk Estate, 2017 BCSC 2335 wherein the Court was asked to consider whether an unsigned handwritten document had the effect of altering a will from 1995. Under s. 58 of WESA, the Court determined that the document was a valid expression of testamentary intent:

[22]  There are several relevant details pertaining to the Document itself that support a finding that it represents such an expression of intention:

  • The Document was pinned to a bulletin board hanging on the door in the Deceased’s apartment where it could be easily found.
  • The distribution set out in the Document is rational on its face in that the Deceased’s sister, Mary Anne, who had been included in the 1995 Will, had since died;
  • The Document clearly directs a division of the residue of the estate to certain named persons and in certain specific shares, with language that mirrors the language of the  1995 Will;
  • Although the Document is not signed or witnessed, the word “witness” is written near the bottom;
  • Although the Document is not dated, there is reference at the top to the Deceased’s will dated November 16, 1995. It also purports to correct a typographical error in a specific paragraph of the 1995 Will; and
  • The handwriting is reasonably similar to handwriting in a letter entered into evidence, which is dated December 10, 1995, and signed by the Deceased. This letter was found in a drawer in the Deceased’s apartment next to the 1995 Will.

If you are want to consult with Vancouver Estate litigation lawyers or have a question about the validity of a will, contact the Kushner Law Group today to schedule a consultation.

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