Ontario Superior Court affirms handwritten notes revived last will and testament

Deceased thought his will was still valid and subsisting when he made the notes

Ontario Superior Court affirms handwritten notes revived last will and testament

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ruled in a recent case that the handwritten notes of the deceased revived his last will and testament.

In Estate of Harold Franklin Campbell (Re), 2023 ONSC 4315, Harold Campbell executed his last will and testament naming his children, Christopher and Lisa, as beneficiaries of his estate’s residue. A few years later, Harold married Carol Campbell, and consequently, the marriage revoked Harold’s will following the Succession Law Reform Act.

Harold made two handwritten notes, which he signed and stapled to the inside cover of the will. The note sets out specific items that Harold requested be given to Carol and his wishes respecting the handling of his remains. The court noted that the two handwritten notes are valid holograph codicils under s. 6 of the Succession Law Reform Act.

Christopher brought an application to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice seeking a small estate certificate and directions on the validity of the deceased’s will. The sole issue before the court was whether the two handwritten notes revived the will. Christopher argued that the holographs are valid revivals of the will.

The court ruled that the holograph revived the will. The court noted that under s. 19(1)(b) of the Succession Law Reform Act, it is clear that “a revoked will or part of it is revived by a codicil that shows the deceased person’s intention to give effect to that revoked will or part.

In the court’s opinion, the holograph demonstrates that as of its making, Harold thought that the will was valid and subsisting, so he varied it by making that holograph which sets out specific bequests to Carol. In other words, by making that codicil, he gave effect to the will.

Accordingly, the court concluded that the will was revived upon Harold’s execution of the holograph, as per s. 19(1)(b) of the Succession Law Reform Act.

The court further clarified that Christopher’s argument that the holographs are valid revivals of the will is unnecessary. The court explained that the holographs are codicils to the will, which shows that Harold intended to give effect to the will when he made the holographs. The court stressed that nothing more is required for the operation of s. 19(1)(b) to revive the revoked will.

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