Reasons for judgement were released recently in the case Dunn v. TD Canada Trust, in which the interpretation of a 1951 Will was at stake.
The question was how to interpret a clause that appeared to direct the Executor to retain the deceased’s investments in stocks and bonds, in the form they were in at the time of death (1957).
Legally interpreting a Will is about trying to discern the Will Maker’s intention. So the Court’s interpretation looks at the Will itself as a whole.
Outside evidence is not available, unless the Will is so vague that the Court cannot determine the Will Maker’s intention from the Will alone.
Beyond these directions, with respect to stocks and bonds in the deceased’s Will, other directions were made with respect to other assets. The Will set up various trusts for the deceased’s three children, who were all deceased themselves by the time the hearing was held.
The Court’s interpretation was that, indeed, the stocks and bonds had to be kept in their form (and not used unless the rest of the Estate was depleted).
Clarity is the main goal in drafting Wills, but it is often elusive, for many reasons. Taking extra time to review, before signing your Will, certainly helps.
This ad originally ran in the Richmond News on March 18, 2016.