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by a member of the Canadian Armed Forces on active service. A document
that does not comply with at least one of these formalities cannot be cured
by the courts.9
This narrow curative provision has resulted in situations where the court
is satisfied that the document in question represents the deceased’s testamentary
intentions but cannot give effect to the document as a valid will
because the deceased did not comply with any of the formalities.
In Re Woods Estate,10 the deceased was in the process of preparing a new
will. The deceased met with a lawyer and made notes, later asking the
lawyer for a meeting at the deceased’s residence. The lawyer attended at
the deceased’s home for will instructions and completed a will questionnaire.
The lawyer and the deceased arranged for the lawyer to return one
week later with the completed will. The deceased died 12 hours after meeting
with the lawyer. Though the court was satisfied that the will questionnaire
and the lawyer’s instructions represented the testamentary intentions
of the deceased, because the deceased had not signed either document, the
court could not cure either document.
Contrast this with Furlotte v. McAllister,11 which was decided in a jurisdiction
with no requirement for minimum compliance. In this case, several of
the deceased’s children searched through her home after her death for a
will. Eventually, they found an unsigned, handwritten document setting
out a number of bequests, including a bequest of the deceased’s house. Each
of the deceased’s children who were present at the house read the document,
and they left it on a table near a file folder in the deceased’s house.
When they returned the next day, the document was gone. It was never
One of the deceased’s children who had been present when the document
was found made a list of the deceased’s bequests based on her memory
of her review of the document. The contents of the list generally
matched conversations the deceased had with her family about her wishes
and accorded with the memory of at least one other of the deceased’s children.
The court admitted the list written by the deceased’s child to probate.
CASE LAW IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
Although there is no required minimum degree of compliance with the formalities
in a will, most of the documents that have come before the courts
in British Columbia have not been particularly exotic. In most cases, the
document at issue was a written document prepared by the deceased setting
out a number of bequests and, on occasion, naming an executor.12 In
many of these cases, the court granted the relief sought.