The "Armchair Rule"

The "Armchair Rule"

Wills & Estates
Mark Norton
Mark Norton

Drafting a will is a meticulous task, and even the most skilled drafters can sometimes leave room for ambiguity. At Infinity Law, we often encounter questions about interpreting unclear will provisions. A notable decision, Re: Theimer Estate 2012 BCSC 629, helmed by Madam Justice Dardi, provides valuable insights into the principles courts employ for such interpretations. One primary rule stands out: the “Armchair Rule.”

Here's a breakdown of the key takeaways from this decision:

  1. The Testator's Perspective: The Armchair Rule essentially requires the court to step into the shoes of the testator. The aim is to view and understand the will's wording as the testator would have intended.
  2. Holistic Interpretation: The court's objective is to discern the testator's intention as expressed in the entire will, especially in light of any relevant external evidence.
  3. Modern Approach: The contemporary method focuses on understanding the actual meaning the testator attached to the words in the will.
  4. Surrounding Circumstances: While the primary evidence is derived from the will itself, the Armchair Rule allows the court to consider external evidence that sheds light on the testator's circumstances when the will was drafted. This could include the testator's occupation, property status, and relationships with family and relatives.
  5. Comprehensive Evidence Admission: Modern judicial practice involves admitting all evidence concerning the surrounding circumstances at the hearing's outset. The will is then interpreted in light of these circumstances.

At Infinity Law, we believe that understanding the testator's essence is crucial for accurate will interpretation. It's not just about the words on paper but understanding the person behind those words. If you're seeking clarity on a will's provisions or need guidance on Wills and Estates Law in the region, Infinity Law is here to assist, ensuring your interests are always protected.

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