June 6th marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces stormed the beaches
of Normandy to gain a key strategic foothold in German-occupied
western Europe. Canadian forces figured prominently in the
invasion's success, and also in the heavy casualties that were
In the days leading to the invasion, the thoughts of the Allied
troops must have turned to their loved ones back home. Many of them
would have written letters, and some also would have written their
wills. But in making a will, it may not have been practical to
follow all the formalities that their lawyers back home would have
The law in B.C. has for many years given special treatment to
military wills, and B.C.'s Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) continues to
do so. Section 38 of WESA provides that a member of the Canadian
Forces while placed on active service may make a valid will that is
signed only by the will-maker without witnesses. In any other
context, a valid will requires the signatures of two witnesses,
although the court now has the power to declare a deficient will to
be valid under section 58 of WESA. A signed military will can be
accepted for probate without the need for the court to validate the
will under section 58.
The special dispensation for military wills is meant to
recognize that a simple, hastily drawn, battlefield will is
marginally better than no will at all. Members of the Armed Forces
should still seek to have a proper will drawn up as and when they
If you would like to see examples of handwritten military wills,
a good place to look would be this site maintained by National Records of
Scotland. They have recently published 31,000 Scottish
soldiers' wills from the First and Second World Wars and other
We are grateful to the men and women of the Canadian Forces,
past and present, for their willingness to put their
lives in harm's way for the greater good.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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It is not uncommon for parents to provide monetary gifts to their adult children. Parents may wish to help their child with a down payment on a property, or help pay out their child's existing mortgage.
On March 31, 2014, BC's new Wills, Estates and Succession Act1 ("WESA") will come into force. WESA introduces new protections for beneficiaries of estates that are in danger of being disputed or deemed ineffective by a court.
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