How the Courts Handle Ambiguous Wills In British Columbia

One of the most complicated aspects of British Columbia estate litigation is when the court must make a factual determination about the intentions of a deceased will-maker in their will. Under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, courts in British Columbia have the power to both interpret and rectify wills to ensure that the document’s true intent is acknowledged and followed.

What has been used to give courts the ability to interpret wills is now known as the “Arm-Chair Rule.”

Varying an Ambiguous Will in British Columbia | Klein Lawyers

What Is the Arm-Chair Rule?

The Arm-Chair Rule uses the ideology that the court must put themselves in the armchair of the testator so they can see the will through the eyes of the will-maker.

In essence, the court must:

  • Assert the intention of the testator as expressed in the will
  • Determine the will-maker’s intention, by reviewing the will as a whole and not from the provisions that have created controversy
  • Gather the actual meaning the testator ascribed to the words he or she used in the will

The main source of evidence in a typical estate litigation case is the actual writing of the will. However, the Arm-Chair Rule allows the court to look at extrinsic evidence to identify the surrounding circumstances around the testator at the time the will was made. Such circumstances might have had influence over the testator in the disposition of his or her property. For example, if the language of the will is ambiguous, the court will look at the occupation of the testator, the state of the property, and the immediate family and other relatives.

Before the will of a deceased loved one goes to court, we recommend you contact a lawyer as you’ll need assistance through the process.

Contact Our Wills Variation Lawyers Today

Challenging a loved one’s will is an emotional process. And when the will is ambiguous, it can be even more complicated. With all of these factors in mind, it is important to work with an experienced lawyer who is committed to winning the maintenance and support you deserve.

Contact Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 today for a free, confidential case evaluation. Our wills variation lawyers serve clients throughout British Columbia from offices in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, and Surrey.