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, 9th Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2021)

ClassesFridays, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Law Building, Room 001


Page numbers refer to Oosterhoff on Wills, 9th Edition

September 10, 2021

I.  Introduction

History, Statutes, and Terminology: 3-16, 20-21, 22-23 (non-examinable but very useful background)

Understanding the Model of Law as a Whole

Professional Practice and Careers

II.  Pre-Mortem: Substitute Decision-Making

Introduction: 1019-1029

Capacity: 1030-1047

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

Appointment of Attorneys and Guardians: 1047-1057

Specimen Continuing Powers of Attorney

Powers and Obligations of Attorneys and Guardians: 1058-1082

Lecture Notes (1) – Substitute Decision-Making

September 17, 2021

III. Intestate Succession

Introduction and Devolution of Property: 71-72

Distribution on Intestacy: 73-102

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

Partial Intestacy: 102-103

Contractual Surrender of Rights in an Intestacy: 103-106

Advancement: 106-107

IV.  Wills and Will-Substitutes

Nature of a Will: 113-117, 325-327

Gifts: 173-174

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

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

Deeds and Inter Vivos Trusts: 174-176

Joint Ownership: 176-179 [you may find it of assistance to read Pecore v Pecore, 2007 SCC 17 (S.C.C.)]

Lecture Notes (2) – Intestate Succession; The Nature of a Will; ‘Will-Substitutes’

Zoom Recording

September 24, 2021

Life Insurance: 180-183

Moore v. Sweet, 2018 SCC 52 (S.C.C.)

Pensions and Beneficiary Designations: 184-198

Will Substitutes and Probate Fees: 200-204

Granovsky Estate v. Ontario, 1998 CanLII 14913 (Ont. S.C.J.)

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: 122-128

Promises and Proprietary Estoppel: 132-134

Mutual Wills: 135-145

Nelson v. Trottier, 2019 ONSC 1657 (Ont. S.C.J.)

Lecture Notes (3) – ‘Will-Substitutes’ (cont’d); Promises to Make a Will; Mutual Wills

Zoom Recording

October 1, 2021

VI.  Will-Making

Delegation of Testamentary Power: 155-168

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

Age Requirement: 206-207

Onus Probandi: 232-235

Suspicious Circumstances: 235-242

Knowledge and Approval: 208-211

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

Mental Capacity: 211-232, 247-251

Undue Influence and Fraud: 251-160

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

Lecture Notes (4) – Will-Making

October 8, 2021

VII. Formal Validity of Wills

Introduction to Formal Validity: 299

Attested Wills: 299-323

Holograph Wills: 324

Judicial Validation: 337-339

Incorporation By Reference: 334-336

VIII. Revocation of Wills

Introduction: 359-360

By Operation of Law: 360-364

By Act of Testator: 382-393

Conditional Revocation: 397-403

Revival of Revoked Wills: 403-405

Lecture Notes (5) – Formalities; Revocation

October 15, 2021

IX.  Proof of Death and Lost Wills

Proof of Death: 409-420, 422-425

Proof of Lost Wills: 427-430

X.  Capacity of Beneficiaries

Illegitimacy: 441-448

Adoption: 451-452

Homicide: 454-463

The Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company v. Rogers, 2021 ONSC 1747 (Ont. S.C.J.)

Witnesses: 470-476

Lecture Notes (6) – Proof of Death; Lost Wills; Capacity of Beneficiaries

October 22, 2021

XI.  Rectification of Wills

Rectification: 263-269, 270-278, 279-281

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

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

XII. Interpretation of Wills

Jurisdiction and Judicial Function: 479-482

General Principles and Rules of Construction: 483-506

Particular Expressions: 506-517

Partial Intestacies: 517-520

Evidence: 521-537

Drafting Errors: 539-552

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

Lecture Notes (7) – Rectification and Interpretation of Wills

October 29, 2021

XIII. Void Conditions

Consequences of Void Conditions: 762-764

Conditions Contrary to Public Policy: 765-795

Conditions Impossible of Performance: 795-799

Uncertain Conditions: 800-805

XIV. Gifts

Subject-Matter and Types of Testamentary Gifts: 555-558, 559-570, 572-573

Abatement: 565-579

Ademption: 584-585

Date From Which Will Speaks: 588-594

Conversion: 603-608, 620

Election, Satisfaction, and Double Portions: 617-628

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

Disclaimer: 630-631

Lecture Notes (8) – Void Conditions; Types of Gifts; Ademption and Abatement

November 5, 2021

No class. Fall Term reading week.


November 12, 2021

XV.  Lapse and Survivorship

Introduction: 643

Disposition of Lapsed Gifts: 643-647

Anti-Lapse Legislation: 648-656

Exceptions to Lapse: 657-663

Substitutionary Gifts: 666-668, 672-675

XVI. Class Gifts

Nature and Effect of a Class Gift: 685-686

Identifying Class Gifts: 686-696

Composition of the Class: 697-700

The Class Closing Rules: 701-710

Lecture Notes (9) – Lapse; Class Gifts

November 19, 2021

XVII. Probate and Administration

Introduction and Role of the Courts: 27-33

Grants of Probate: 33-41

Passing of Accounts: 54-57

Duties: 58-60

Estates Act

Estates Administration Act

XVIII. Matrimonial Rights

The Impact of the Family Law Act on Estate Administration: 869-906

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

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

Lecture Notes (10) – Probate; Spousal Rights

November 26, 2021

XIX. Support of Dependents

Introduction to Dependant’s Relief: 923-939

Practice and Procedure: 940-945

Satisfaction of Support Obligations: 945-967

Property Subject of an Order: 967-980

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

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

XX.  Solicitor’s Liability

Solicitors’ Duty in Taking Instructions for a Will: 989-995

Solicitors’ Duty of Care Towards Beneficiaries: 996-1014

Lecture Notes (11) -Dependant’s Support; Professional Negligence