Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Issue Definition:

Biological descendants.

Related Terms: Lineal Descendant, Next of Kin, Consanguinity, Descendant, Per Stirpes, Per Capita

A reference to not just the children of the testator, to use the example of a will, but also to his or her descendants of the remotest degree.1

It is not uncommon to find the term issue defined in statute such as this, at §1 of the 2012 Alberta Intestate Succession Act:

"Issue includes all lineal descendants of the ancestor."

In Smith v. Smith, Justice Spivak of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba considered the the import of the term issue as presented in a will:

"In submitting that the word issue is intended to mean all lineal descendants, the Public Trustee relies on the dictionary meaning of that word and the primary or ordinary meaning as noted in the case law .... (that) issue (includes) lineal descendants and lawful issue as including descendants more remote than children.

"Further, several cases have commented that the primary meaning of issue is descendants of all degrees unless that meaning is clearly displaced.

"However, the ordinary or dictionary meaning of a word, referred to as the primary meaning, must give way to any modified meaning or secondary meaning required by the context. So the ordinary meaning of a word used in a will must be modified by the context of the will as a whole, read in the light of the circumstances known to the testator at the time the will was made. The meaning is determined not only from the will, but also from the will as read in light of the surrounding circumstances under the armchair rule.

"Certainly the jurisprudence makes it clear that context will govern the meaning of issue and other words that have a primary or technical meaning. Accordingly several courts have interpreted the word issue restrictively to mean children or grandchildren."



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