The Honourable Justice Chang in July of 2023 rendered his decision in the case known as the Estate of Harold Franklin Campbell.
The case centered around section 19(1)(b) of The Succession Law Reform Act that reads “a Will that has been…revoked is revived only…by a codicil that shows an intention to give effect to the Will.. that was revoked”.
More simply put, a Will that has been cancelled can be brought back to life if it is done by way of a written amendment known as a codicil and in accordance with the formalities of The Succession Law Reform Act that shows an intention to bring the Will back to life.
As we have discussed in other blog articles commencing January 1, 2022, the law was amended to create what this author calls the horseshoes rule. All the formalities under The Succession Law Reform Act “SLRA” are not absolutely necessary as long as you get close enough and a court can be convinced that the document was indeed a reflection of what the deceased wanted within their Will.
The facts are relatively simple. Harold Campbell made a Will, and named his children as his beneficiaries. He remarried and under the law as it then existed (it no longer does), the Will was revoked also known as cancelled by that subsequent marriage. After the date of marriage, Harold signed two notes, which he signed and stapled to the inside cover of his original pre marriage Will.
The judge by reading the two holographic aka handwritten notes, thought it was quite clear that these notes were to be amendments to the cancelled Will and showed an intention by Harold that he still wanted to give effect to the old pre marriage Will.
In other words, it was clear to the presiding judge that there was no difficulty fitting within the four corners of 19(1)(b) of The Succession Law Reform Act.
The judge however felt that the horseshoe rule, more formally known as section 21.1 (2) did not apply. For once a judge felt that this was a bridge too far and could not be used to bring back a Will from the dead.
An interesting small corner of the law of wills and estates, but an important one.
Justice Charles Chang born and raised in Toronto with primarily a background in commercial litigation and was only appointed April 4, 2022. In other words, fourteen months into the job, an interesting decision by Justice Chang.