Zalechuk Estate 2023 BCSC 523 discussed the modern approach to wills interpretation post WESA.
The Court’s power to rectify a will is found in s. 59 of the WESA:
59 (1) On application for rectification of a will, the court, sitting as a court of construction or as a court of probate, may order that the will be rectified if the court determines that the will fails to carry out the will-maker’s intentions because of
(a) an error arising from an accidental slip or omission,
(b) a misunderstanding of the will-maker’s instructions, or
(c) a failure to carry out the will-maker’s instructions.
(2) Extrinsic evidence, including evidence of the will-maker’s intent, is admissible to prove the existence of a circumstance described in subsection (1).
(3) An application for rectification of a will must be made no later than 180 days from the date the representation grant is issued unless the court grants leave to make an application after that date.
(4) If the court grants leave to make an application for rectification of a will after 180 days from the date the representation grant is issued, a personal representative who distributes any part of the estate to which entitlement is subsequently affected by rectification is not liable if, in reasonable reliance on the will, the distribution is made
(a) after 180 days from the date the representation grant is issued, and
(b) before the notice of the application for rectification is delivered to the personal representative.
(5) Subsection (4) does not affect the right of any person to recover from a beneficiary any part of the estate distributed in the circumstances described in that subsection.
In Thiemer Estate, 2012 BCSC 629 which also predated the coming into force of the WESA, Justice Dardi summarized some useful principles of construction. She said that the objective of the court is to ascertain the intention of the testator as expressed in his or her will when it is read as a whole in light of any properly admissible extrinsic evidence. The testator’s intention is to be gathered from the will as a whole and not solely from the provisions in dispute (para. 45 citing Perrin v. Morgan,  A.C. 399 at 406 (H.L.) and (H.L.); Re: Burke (1960), 20 D.L.R. (2d) 396 at 398-399 (Ont. C.A.).
The court is to ascertain the express intention of the testator which is the meaning of the written word as opposed to what the testator may have meant to do when he or she made a will (Thiemer at para. 46 citing Perrin at 406).
Earlier lines of authority endorsed an objective approach to will interpretation but modern jurisprudence recognizes a strict literal approach can defeat the intention of the testator (Thiemer at para. 47, citing “The Law Reform Commission of British Columbia”, Report on Interpretations of Wills, LRC 58 at 6).
 At para. 48 Justice Dardi said:
 In keeping with contemporary judicial thinking, the courts of this province have favoured the subjective approach to interpreting wills, wherein the objective is to ascertain the actual meaning the testator ascribed to the words he or she used in the will. In determining the testator’s intention the courts have endorsed the analytical approach commonly described as the “armchair rule”. The rule requires that the court put itself in the position of the testator at the point in time when he or she made the will, and from that vantage point construe the language in the will in light of the surrounding facts and circumstances known to the testator.
In Jamt Estate, 2021 BCSC 788, ss. 58 and 59 of the WESA is discussed by Justice Coval. He says that s. 58 is remedial in nature covering a broad discretion in prescribed circumstances to order a writing or marking on a will be fully effective. Section 59, like s. 58 is remedial in nature conferring a broad discretion to rectify a will that fails to carry out the makers intentions in prescribed circumstances. Prior to the enactment of the WESA there was no such statutory authority in British Columbia to rectify wills and common law rectification had very narrow boundaries.
Since there were no judicial considerations of s. 59(1)(a) Justice Coval took guidance from the United Kingdom decision in Re Segelman  Ch. 171 at p. 180 which considered similar but not identical sections of the Administration of Justice Act 1982. He raised three questions:
1) what were the testator’s intentions with regard to the issue for which rectification is sought?
2) does the Will as written fail to carry out those intentions?
3) is that failure a consequence of one of the reasons specified in ss. 59(1)(a)-(c).
Justice Coval concluded that the extrinsic evidence strongly supported granting the rectification sought under s. 59(1). He concluded that Mr. Jamt intended to leave his estate to the petitioner. The accidental slip had been the use of the wrong middle name for the petitioner.
Section 59(2) of the WESA admits extrinsic evidence to prove the circumstances described in s. 59(1) if the court is of the view that the will fails to carry out the will-maker’s intentions because of an error arising from an accidental slip or omission or a misunderstanding or failure to carry out the will-maker’s instructions. Since the Will was prepared by the deceased, I will only consider whether there has been an accidental slip or omission.
In Simpson, the Court of Appeal applied s. 59 to rectify a will in a case where they found a denial of rectification in those particular circumstances would deprive the respondents of the gift the deceased intended them to have, and provide the appellant with a windfall the deceased never intended her to have. An accidental omission arose from the deceased’s failure to realize that his intended gift of the shares would never get to the respondents due to the operation of the survivor clause of the shareholders agreement.
The trial judge allowed the extrinsic evidence of the drafting solicitor’s notes to determine what the testator’s intentions were.
The majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the rectification.