Can a Signed Questionnaire be a Will?

The Supreme Court of BC recently found a Wills planning questionnaire could be considered to be the deceased’s Will (Garnett Estate v. Garnett Estate, 2013 BCSC 1731).  The deceased created a document in 2008 that was in fact a Wills planning questionnaire with instructions to update her 2005 Will.  When the deceased realized she would not live long enough to meet with a lawyer to complete a new Will, she and two witnesses signed the questionnaire.  The deceased died within hours of doing so.

In deciding the 2008 document could be considered a Will, the Court considered evidence of the deceased’s circumstances, such as her concern about finalizing her Will and her relief upon signing the 2008 document.  The Court recognized the fact that the 2008 document was executed according to the formalities required to make a Will and determined this to support the fact that the document reflected the deceased’s testamentary disposition.

As an interesting note, the Court also admitted to probate a list of charitable gifts stapled to the 2008 document.  The court found that the stapled list existed at the time the deceased executed the 2008 document and was initialled at the time of execution.  The list even included a gift to a charity in an amount “between $60,000 to $80,000”, which the Court upheld, with the final exact gifted amount to be determined after payment of estate debts, taxes and fees.

If you have questions about wills and estates, please feel free to contact one of the lawyers in our Wealth Preservation + Estate Litigation Practice Group.

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