The B.C. Wills, Estates and Succession Act was put into force just over two years ago. Perhaps the major change it brings, in section 58, is the (Supreme) Court’s ability to rectify a Will made without following “protocol.”
A good example of this lies in the recent case of Re Smith Estate.
The deceased made three (handwritten) testamentary documents without any help, between 2008 and 2011. In a 2011 meeting with a child and her common law spouse, the deceased asked them to witness one of the three documents, which they did. She had signed the other two.
The deceased asked her granddaughter to be Executrix in late 2011, and she agreed.
The deceased died in 2015. The granddaughter later found the three testamentary documents stapled together. She applied to the Court for various orders, including that the documents together were part of or were the deceased’s Will.
Under the new Act, the Court had to determine whether the documents represented the deceased’s testamentary intentions (even if they don’t comply with formalities).
First, there was no question that the handwriting in the documents was the deceased’s.
Second, the Court found that the documents were a fixed and final expression of the deceased’s intention. The documents were upheld.
This is a major change in the law, and in my opinion, the decision in this case was correct.
I don’t know how much it cost to bring the application to Court, but I would guess that, had the deceased simply made a Will with a Lawyer or Notary, the cost would have been less.
This ad ran in the Richmond News on March 4, 2016.