Ontario Superior Court

Legal Insights: Reviving a Revoked Will with a Holograph - A Case Analysis


I recently stumbled upon a captivating news article that I'm eager to share. In the case of "Can a Revoked Will Be Revived by a Holograph?" (Estate of Harold Franklin Campbell, 2023 ONSC 4315), the Ontario Superior Court of Justice grappled with the intricate question of whether a holographic document could revive a will that had been revoked due to a subsequent marriage. This legal saga provides valuable insights into the complexities of estate law and the limits of a specific legal provision, Section 21.1(1) of the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA). Let's delve into the case and its implications.


Harold Franklin Campbell's 1996 Will was automatically revoked when he married his second wife, Carol, in 2000, as per the SLRA. However, Harold later created two handwritten notes, referred to as "Holographs," in 2016 and 2017, expressing specific wishes related to his estate and remains. His son, Christopher, contested the validity of the 1996 Will and sought to revive it using Section 21.1(1) of the SLRA, which allows the court to validate documents that reflect a deceased's testamentary intentions or intentions to revoke, alter, or revive a will.

The court found that the 1996 Will was indeed revived by the November 16, 2016, Holograph, making it valid and subsisting. However, this revival was not solely due to Section 21.1(1) but also because the Holographs were considered codicils under Section 19(1)(b) of the SLRA, which revives a will through a codicil showing an intent to give effect to the will or the revoked part.


This case underscores the intricate nature of estate law and the importance of understanding legal provisions like Section 21.1(1) of the SLRA. While it was initially believed that the Holographs revived the 1996 Will under this provision, the court ultimately relied on Section 19(1)(b) instead. This decision emphasizes that careful legal interpretation is crucial in estate planning and disputes.

Moreover, the case serves as a reminder that individuals should regularly revisit their wills and estate plans, especially after significant life events like marriages or divorces, to ensure that their intentions are accurately reflected. Although recent changes to the law have eliminated automatic revocation of wills due to post-2022 marriages, this case illustrates the importance of staying vigilant about one's estate planning to avoid unintended consequences.

Original Article Source: Ontario Superior Court affirms handwritten notes revived last will and testament
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