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Want to be creative with your will? Get a lawyer

By Suzana Popovic-Montag

If you’re a regular reader of obituaries, you’ve undoubtedly seen some creative writing touches in remembering a departed family member. While traditional obituaries are still the norm, humour seems to be creeping into more of these tributes – especially those written by the deceased person in advance and published upon their death. You’ll find some great examples here.

While creativity in obituary writing has few, if any, negative repercussions, the same isn’t true for creativity in the will drafting process. While Canadians generally enjoy wide testamentary freedom to dispose of their property in any manner, it’s not an absolute freedom. For example:

  • Succession laws can require that your will provide financial support for those who are dependant on you, such as a spouse or minor children.
  • Provisions in your will that are against public policy and offend societal values (such as gifts that are racist, sexist, or require someone to do something against their beliefs – or against the law) can also be set aside.

All to say, if you want to do something quirky or creative in your will, make sure you get legal advice before finalizing it. Here are a couple of examples that passed the test. They’re from other countries but would likely pass the test in Canada as well.

Giving to strangers

In Portugal, a man was the son of an aristocrat but had no family and few friends. When he wrote his will in 1988, he chose 70 strangers at random from the Lisbon phone directory to receive his fortune. When he died in 2001, the shocked strangers each received several thousand euros.

Careful when you open that next tube of Pringles

An American chemist who invented and patented Pringles potato chips and the innovative Pringles tube died in 2008 and had stipulated that his remains be buried in a Pringles tube. While his ashes exceeded the capacity of a single container, some of his remains were indeed placed in a Pringles tube and buried, along with the rest of his ashes in a more traditional urn.

So, by all means, have some fun with your will and your final requests. Just make sure your lawyer has given you the “two thumbs up” before you execute it.

Read More at Hull & Hull LLP Blog

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