Breaking the Ties

April 17, 2007 Hull & Hull LLP Beneficiary Designations Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

Yesterday I reviewed the decision of Holmes Estate (Re) [2007] B.C.J. No. 45. You will recall that a gift in the testator’s Will to “all my nieces and nephews” was interpreted in the circumstances to mean a bequest to the children of the testator’s siblings including the 18 nieces and nephews of the testator’s late wife.

One such niece, Patricia Meadows, had been married to Alfie Meadows. Alfie was seeking entitlement to a share in the residue of the estate belonging to Patricia, who had died before the testator. He was doing so on the basis of the language contained in the Will that if any of the testator’s nieces or nephews predeceased him, that person’s share was to be paid to their surviving spouse.

The problem for Alfie was that he had been convicted of Patricia’s murder! The Court quite justly denied Alfie entitlement to Patricia’s share in the estate by applying the general rule of public policy that a person is precluded from benefiting from a crime.

The irony in this case is that while Alfie’s crime didn’t pay for him, it did benefit the surviving nieces and nephews, as the gift was a class gift (when a member of the class is disqualified their share is divided amongst the remaining members).

While this case made for an interesting read, I can only hope that the decision will help deter similar claims from arising again.

Have a good day,

Natalia Angelini

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