A Will is a legal document in which a testator provides for what will happen to their estate after death. In Ontario the making of a Will, with some exceptions, must satisfy certain tests. The Will must, for example, be in writing, and if typewritten it must be signed by the testator in front of two witnesses both of whom were present at the same time. Witnesses to a Will should not be a beneficiary under the Will, a spouse of a beneficiary, as the gift to them would be invalidated, nor should the witnesses be younger than 18 years old. These conditions are important and recognize the significance of a Will in giving force and effect to the wishes of the testator. A Will has no effect while the testator is alive, but comes into effect immediately on death, unless challenged.
It is not uncommon for disagreements to exist after the death of a testator. Generally, the first source of disagreement will be over the validity of the Will itself. Another source of disagreement regarding the Will may be the clarity of its terms, for example, the identification of a beneficiary or the language used to distinguish among or between beneficiaries as to a gift. The possibilities of this kind of dispute occurring are many. A third kind of disagreement can be as to whether the Will is wholly effective, or whether parts of it are so unclear as to fail. In this case, an intestacy occurs, meaning that there is no valid disposition of the subject gift for lack of clarity. A fourth type of disagreement may involve undue influence and suspicious circumstances calling into question whether the contents of the Will represent the true intent and free will of the Testator.
These types of disagreements require experienced counsel. If an out of court solution is available, we have the experience to find it. If litigation is required, we have the team to provide efficient and cost conscious representation.