Revocation of Beneficiary Designations by Will and the case of Alger v Crumb

  • May 02, 2023
  • Jennifer A.N. Corak, partner, Minden Gross LLP

As part of the estate planning process, Will drafting lawyers turn their mind to the testator’s assets. This includes considering whether there are any assets with designated beneficiaries and whether the testator’s Will should revoke existing beneficiary designations.  In the recent Ontario Court of Appeal case of Alger v Crumb,[1]  the court was faced with the question of whether a Will’s general revocation clause revoked certain RRIF and TFSA beneficiary designations executed prior to the Will.

The testator, Theresa Lorraine Crumb, passed away on June 18, 2020 with a Will dated May 9, 2019 (the “Will”). She had four children – the appellants and the respondents.  Two of her children, Robert Crumb and Karen Black, who are the appellants in this case, are named as estate trustees. The Will provides a $20,000 bequest to each of the respondents, some smaller bequests, and then leaves the residue of the estate to the appellants. At her death, the testator possessed RRIF plans and a TFSA plan, the beneficiaries of which were her four children, equally. The instrument(s) designating her children as beneficiaries were executed before the Will.[2]

The general revocation clause found in the Will is as follows: