Remember travel? Remember getting on an airplane and going somewhere (anywhere) else? Although you would be forgiven for thinking of these activities as science fiction due to recent world events, with the COVID-19 pandemic hopefully on its downward trend the idea of travel could again be creeping back into the collective consciousness.
Although the more common souvenirs to bring back from a vacation are likely a sunburn and some tacky items with the name of the destination emblazoned across it, as this is an estate blog it got me thinking of whether there may be any estate related souvenirs that you could bring back. Could you, for example, sign a new Last Will and Testament while on vacation, potentially adding a Will with an exotic destination name at the top to the list of items you bring back? Could such a Will later be admitted to probate in Ontario? Like any good legal question the answer is “maybe”.
In Ontario the potential admittance of a foreign Last Will and Testament is governed by section 37(1) of the Succession Law Reform Act, which provides:
“As regards the manner and formalities of making a will of an interest in movables or in land, a will is valid and admissible to probate if at the time of its making it complied with the internal law of the place where,
(a) the will was made;
(b) the testator was then domiciled;
(c) the testator then had his or her habitual residence; or
(d) the testator then was a national if there was in that place one body of law governing the wills of nationals.” [emphasis added]
In accordance section 37(1)(a) of the Succession Law Reform Act, a foreign Will can be admitted for probate in Ontario so long as it complied with the internal law of the place where it was made at the time it was signed. As you would presumably be presently located in the destination on which you were on vacation, so long as the Will complied with the laws of the jurisdiction where you were on vacation at the time it was signed it could theoretically later be admitted to probate in Ontario making your vacation Will a valid Will in Ontario.
In considering your potential vacation Will it would be wise to remember that just because you “can” do something doesn’t mean you “should”, with a vacation Will likely being in the same category as a vacation tattoo as something that should be very seriously considered and thought through before it is done.
Thank you for reading.
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.