In Alger v. Crumb, the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that a general revocation clause in a will did not revoke the testator’s TFSA and RRIF beneficiary designations. The Court concluded that under s. 51 and s. 52 of the Succession Law Reform Act (“SLRA”), the beneficiary designations have to be expressly referenced in a revocation clause and dismissed the appeal.
The testator was survived by her four children. Her four children were the equal beneficiaries of her TFSA and RRIF plans. Subsequent to designating her four children as equal beneficiaries under those plans, the testator made a Will that appointed two of her children as estate trustees as well as the only residuary beneficiaries under her Will. Her other two children received specific bequests. The testator’s Will includes a general revocation clause, which read; “I HEREBY REVOKE all Wills and Testamentary dispositions of every nature and kind whatsoever made by me heretofore made.”
The estate trustees took the position that the general revocation clause in the Will revoked the testator’s TFSA and RRIF plans’ beneficiary designations. The testator’s other two children did not agree and brought an application seeking the court’s interpretation.
The Application judge found the general revocation clause in the Will, which made no reference to the TFSA and RRIF plans, did not revoke the beneficiary designations of those plans. The Application judge referencing s. 51 and 52 of the SLRA found that revocation clause had to at least reference beneficial designations in a general sense to revoke them. The clause in the Will was insufficient to revoke the beneficiary designations. The estate trustees appealed that decision.
The Appeal was dismissed with costs to the respondents. In a very thoughtful and comprehensive review of s. 51 and s. 52 of the SLRA and the applicable case law, the court discusses how revocation clauses can expressly reference beneficiary designations in order to effectively revoke the beneficiary designations. In this case, that test was not met. There was no reference to revoking beneficiary designations and no specific references to the TFSA and RRIF assets in the Will. As such, the beneficiary designations have not been revoked.
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