All About Estates

Category: Contested wills

Total 82 Posts

Life Interest or Licence to Use?

A person’s house is often their most valuable assets – both monetarily and emotionally. As a result, testators tend to put a lot of thought into who, and how, they wish to leave their house. However, as is always the case, best laid plans often go awry. One example of this, explored in the 2022 Court of Appeal of Ontario decision Barsoski Estate v Wesley, is when it is unclear whether the will gifts someone with a life interest in the house or a licence to use the property.

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Walters v. Walters: Limits to “Absolute Discretion” and Judicial Intervention by: Yvonne Mazurak

A recent Court of Appeal decision, Walters v Walters, 2022 ONCA 38, addresses a trustee’s requirement to give effect to a testator or settlor’s intentions when exercising discretion with respect to distributions from a discretionary trust. At issue was whether the trustees had improperly relied on extraneous or irrelevant factors…

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Taking the Extra Steps

Verifying the capacity of a testator prior to him or her executing a will is essential, and the test for testamentary capacity is well known to drafting solicitors and estate litigators. In particular, Banks v. Goodfellow provides that a person executing a will: (1) shall understand the nature of the…

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Disclosure of a Party’s Medical Records

In will challenges, it is common to seek the disclosure of the testator’s medical records for the period around the time the will was signed. The medical records are directly relevant to the question of whether or not she had the requisite capacity to sign the will. While the testator…

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Potential Cost of Witnessing a Will

Across Canada, the provinces have built safeguards against undue influence into their law regulating wills: if the witness or the witness’ spouse receives a gift of property under the will, that gift is void. Unfortunately, this rule has the potential to disinherit innocent beneficiaries who unwittingly agree to act as witnesses to the will. This was the situation before the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Wolk v Wolk, 2021 BCSC 1881.

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Increase In House Value Means $1.4 million Gift to SPCA

For many people who own the house in which they live, their home is the most valuable asset in their estate. In many communities in Canada, house values have steadily increased over the last several years and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that the value of an estate…

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No Signature, No Problem

In Bishop Estate v. Sheardown, 2021 BCSC 1571, the Supreme Court of British Columbia gave effect to a Will the testator had failed to execute before her death. Facts: Marilyn Bishop died in British Columbia in the summer of 2020 at the age of 76. She had a prior Will…

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A Tale of Two Versions: The Court of Appeal Invalidates a Will

My colleague Joanna Lindenberg and I had previously blogged on the case of Bayford v. Boese (the decision and the costs decision, respectively) where the court upheld the validity of a challenged will (the second of two ‘versions’ of the same will). However, in Bayford v. Boese, 2021 ONCA 442…

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Legislative Amendments Proposed in Light of Calmusky

On March 16, 2020, the Superior Court of Ontario released its decision in Calmusky v Calmusky. In Calmusky, the Court applied the presumption of resulting trust to a RIF that was designated to a particular beneficiary. The beneficiary was unable to rebut the presumption, and the Court ordered that funds…

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When Are You Married?

Most know that you don’t have to be legally married to have a “spouse” for income tax purposes, although legal marriage will work. If you have been living with someone in a conjugal relationship for 12 months or more regardless of your sex at birth, you will be considered spouses…

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