As Christmas Eve is just hours away, it seems fitting to focus today’s blog on family holiday traditions and estates.  One such tradition has been in the Ford (not the ex-Toronto mayoral) family for the past 137 years.  Yes, this is a blog about a fruitcake.  Not to be confused with a Panettone, but a fruitcake baked by Fidelia Ford in 1878 that has since passed through her issue over three generations.

In 1878 Ms. Ford baked a fruitcake that would age for a year and be eaten during the next holiday season.  However, Ms. Ford passed away prior and her surviving children considered the fruitcake as the most immediate link to their mother.  In fact, the Ford family genealogy states that “…there wasn’t anyone to bake another, so they decided to keep it out of respect for her memory”.  As such, they kept the fruitcake in her honour.

It does not appear that Ms. Ford’s Last Will left any specific instructions as to the preservation or management to the custodians of this decadent asset.  Steadfastly, the fruitcake has been stored in a glass dish with only one significant intrusion when an Uncle Amos attempted to eat the fruitcake in 1964.  This would of course have arisen many years after the fruitcake would have deemed to have been disposed of in accordance with the twenty one year rule against perpetuities.

Lately however, according to a recent article in The Globe & Mail the fruitcake family tradition seems uncertain as Ms. Ford’s issue seem not to want it.  Like so many atypical testamentary dispositions, the author of the article states that “an heirloom for one generation becomes a headache for the next.  Tradition becomes chore”.

Alas, many hours on google has left me none the wiser as to whether any testamentary trusts have been settled for the benefit of a fruitcake…or any other food for that matter.  I am also none the wiser as to whether Ms. Ford’s fruitcake would have fallen into her residue or distributed according to the personal property provisions in her Will (assuming she had one).

While I cannot admit to liking fruitcake, especially the antiquated varietal, Ms. Ford’s story provides a pleasant holiday reminder to enjoy family and traditions that bring family together.  And, because this is an estates blog – to ensure that all assets are addressed, including those with sentimental value, in your testamentary documents.

Happy Holidays,

Noah Weisberg