Wills & Estates Law

Wills & Estates Law

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Overview of the Course

This course deals with the law of wills and estates, with some consideration of the law respecting substitute decision-making. It is expected that students will leave the course with the following skills and abilities:

  • Construct simple estate plans including the operation of Will-substitutes and the intestacy rules.
  • Advise on the validity of Continuing Powers of Attorney and issues respecting substitute decision-making.
  • Advise on the validity of Wills, including who can make a Will and in what circumstances a Will, or part of a Will, is inoperative.
  • Advise on the interpretation of testamentary instruments.
  • Understand how and when probate is required, the nature of estate litigation, and the intersection of the Rules of Civil Procedure and the principal succession law statutes.
  • Understand the nature of the role of the Estate Trustee and the solicitor advising the Estate Trustee.
  • Advise interested parties including the Estate Trustee, potential heirs, creditors, and others on probate and aspects of estate administration.
  • Advise on dependant’s relief claims and spousal entitlements.
  • Understand the key professional competencies and responsibilities for practice in this area.

Evaluation: 100% Open-book Final Examination

Materials: Oosterhoff on Wills, 8th Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2016)

Classes: Mondays, 11:30 am-1:00 pm (Dunning 12) & Wednesday, 11:30 – 1:00 pm (Dunning 12)




I. Introduction

History, Statutes, and Terminology: 3-15, 21-23

Legal Concepts

Professional Practice and Careers


II. Pre-Mortem: Substitute Decision-Making

Introduction: 945-953

Capacity: 953-970

Vanier v. Vanier, 2017 ONCA 561 (Ont. C.A.)

Powers and Obligations of Attorneys and Guardians: 981-1002

Specimen Continuing Powers of Attorney

Lecture Notes No. 1 – Substitute Decision-Making


III. Intestate Succession

Introduction and Devolution of Property: 71-73

Distribution on Intestacy: 73-86, 90-94

Re Crane Estate, 2016 ONSC 291 (Ont. S.C.J.)

Partial Intestacy: 98

Contractual Surrender of Rights in an Intestacy: 98-101

Advancement: 102-103


IV. Wills and Will-Substitutes

Nature of a Will: 107-111, 303-306

Gifts: 165-166

Jansen v. Niels Estate, 2017 ONCA 312 (Ont. C.A.)

Morreale v. Romanino, 2017 ONCA 359 (Ont. C.A.)

Lecture Notes No. 2 – Intestacies; Will-Substitutes (I)


Deeds and Inter Vivos Trusts: 166-168

Joint Ownership: 168-171

Life Insurance: 172-173

Pensions and Beneficiary Designations: 175-176

Will Substitutes and Probate Fees: 185-188

Estate Administration Tax Act Regulation 310/14 – Information Required

Guide to the New Estate Information Return


V. Contracts, Obligations, Mutual Wills

Promises to Make a Will: 116-121

Oral Promises Respecting Land: 121

Promises and Quantum Meruit: 122-125

Promises and Proprietary Estoppel: 125-126

Lecture Notes No. 3 – Will-Substitutes (II); Promises to Leave a Gift


Mutual Wills: 126-136

VI. Will-Making

Limits – Delegation of Testamentary Power: 146-153

Limits – Public Policy: 153-163

Spence v. BMO Trust Company, 2016 ONCA 196 (Ont. C.A.)

Lecture Notes No. 4 – Mutual Wills; Limits on Testamentary Freedom


Age Requirement: 190-191

Knowledge and Approval: 192-193

Garwood v. Garwood, 2017 MBCA 67 (Manitoba C.A.)

Mental Capacity: 193-212

Onus Probandi: 212-232

Lecture Notes No. 5 – Will Making (I)


Undue Influence and Fraud: 232-241

Pascu v. Benke, 2005 CanLII 1086 (Ont. Sup. Ct.)

VII. Formal Validity of Wills

Introduction to Formal Validity: 279

Incorporation By Reference: 136-142

Attested Wills: 279-303

Holograph Wills: 303-316

Substantial Compliance Jurisdictions: 316-320

The International Will: 326-330

Lecture Notes No. 6 – Will Making (II)


February 5th:

VIII. Revocation of Wills

Introduction: 331-332

By Operation of Law: 332-351

By Act of Testator: 351-366

Conditional Revocation: 367-373

Revival of Revoked Wills: 373-375

Lecture Notes No. 7 – Revocation


February 7th:

IX. Proof of Death and Lost Wills

Proof of Death: 375-389

Proof of Lost Wills: 395-403


X. Capacity of Beneficiaries

Illegitimacy: 407-412

Adoption: 412-415

Homicide: 415-428 and Dhingra v. Dhingra 2012 ONCA 261

Witnesses: 429-436

Lecture Notes No. 7 – Proof of Death and Lost Wills; Capacity to Inherit


February 12th:

XI. Rectification of Wills

Mistakes and Rectification: 243-261

Canada (Attorney General) v. Fairmont Hotels Inc., 2016 SCC 56 (S.C.C.)

McLauglin v. McLaughlin, 2016 ONCA 899 (Ont. C.A.)

Oosterhoff, “Discrete Functions of Courts”

Freedman,” The Court’s Rectification Power In Contracts, Trusts, And Wills”

Lecture Notes No. 8 – Rectification


February 14th:

Will Drafting File – Intake Questionnaire

LSUC Annotated Will 2017

Estates Clerk’s Administration Check List


XII. Interpretation of Wills

Jurisdiction and Judicial Function: 437-440

General Principles and Rules of Construction: 440-463

Particular Expressions: 463-472

Koziarski v. Sullivan, 2017 ONSC 2704 (Ont. S.C.J.)

Partial Intestacies: 473-476

Lecture Notes No. 9 – Interpretation of Wills (I)


____________READING WEEK _______________


February 26th:

Evidence: 477-496

Rondel v. Robinson Estate, 2011 ONCA 493 (Ont. C.A.)

Drafting Errors: 496-512

Daradick v. McKeand Estate, 2012 ONSC 5622 (Ont. S.C.J.)

Lecture Notes No. 10 – Interpretation of Wills (II)


February 28th:

Void Conditions: 709-749

XIII. Testamentary Gifts

Subject-Matter and Types of Testamentary Gifts: 513-528

Abatement: 528-537

Ademption: 538-541

Date From Which Will Speaks: 541-558

Conversion: 558-567

Election, Satisfaction, and Double Portions: 572-582

Campbell v. Evert, 2018 ONSC 593 (Ont. S.C.J.)

Disclaimer: 583-585

Lecture Notes No. 11 – Void Conditons; Testamentary Gifts


March 5th:

XIV. Lapse and Survivorship

Introduction: 589

Disposition of Lapsed Gifts: 589-594

Anti-Lapse Legislation: 594-602

Exceptions to Lapse: 603-610

Substitutionary Gifts: 613-622

Survivorship: 622-628

Lecture Notes No. 12 – Lapse; Substitutionary Gifts; Survivorship


March 7th:

XV. Class Gifts

Nature and Effect of a Class Gift: 633-634

Identifying Class Gifts: 634-646

Composition of the Class: 647-663

Lecture Notes No. 13 – Class Gifts


March 12th:

XVI. Perpetuities and Accumulations

Vested and Contingent Interests: 665-676

The Rule Against Perpetuities: 755-758, 768-769

Accumulations: 783-793

Lecture Notes No. 14 – Perpetuities & Accumulations


March 14th:

XVII. Probate and Administration

Role of the Courts: 28-33

Grants of Probate: 33-48

Payment of Debts: 53-61

Sale of Real Estate: 61-66

Distribution of Estate: 66-68

Estates Act

Estates Administration Act

Granger v. Granger, 2016 ONCA 945 (Ont. C.A.)

Sweet v. Moore, 2017 ONCA 182 (Ont. C.A.)

Craven v. Osidacz, 2017 ONSC 1757 (Ont. S.C.J.)

Lecture Notes No. 15 – Probate and Administration of Estates

Procedural Steps in a Typical Will Contest


March 19th:

XVIII. Matrimonial Rights

The Impact of the Family Law Act on Estate Administration: 811-819, 832, 834-838

Form – Election of Surviving Spouse, per RRO 1990, Reg 368

Yamada v. Zolad, 2007 CanLII 4328 (Ont Sup Ct)

Lecture Notes No. 16 – Spousal Rights


March 21st:

IXX. Support of Dependents

Introduction to Dependant’s Relief: 849-864

Practice and Procedure: 866-871

Satisfaction of Support Obligations: 871-892

Property Subject of an Order: 892-903

Dagg v. Cameron Estate, 2017 ONCA 366 (Ont. C.A.)

Habberfield v. Sciamonte, 2017 ONSC 4332 (Ont. S.C.J.)

Lecture Notes No. 17 – Dependants’ Support


March 26th:

XX. Solicitor’s Liability

Solicitors’ Duty in Taking Instructions for a Will: 915-922

Solicitors’ Duty of Care Towards Beneficiaries: 922-940

Johnston Estate v. Johnston, 2017 BCCA 59

Byrn v. Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP, 2017 BCCA 454

Lecture Notes No. 18 – Solicitor’s Liability


April 4th:


Law 462 – Wills & Estates – Examination 2012

Law 462 – Wills & Estates – Examination 2015


C. David Freedman: Estates, Trusts & Guardianship Law C. David Freedman: Estates, Trusts & Guardianship Law C. David Freedman: Estates, Trusts & Guardianship Law C. David Freedman: Estates, Trusts & Guardianship Law C. David Freedman: Estates, Trusts & Guardianship Law