Man Leaves Million Dollar Estate to Neo-Nazi Group

July 2, 2013 Hull & Hull LLP In the News Tags: 0 Comments

A Canadian man has bequethed his estate, including a valuable ancient coin collection, to a Neo-Nazi group in America.

Robert Harry McCorkell, who died in 2004 in St. John, New Brunswick, was a member of the National Alliance – the named beneficiary of his estate. The coin collection may have a value of up to $1 million.   The estate has not yet been settled, although according to this article, the Will is in the process of being probated now.

Many are concerned that the gift could revitalize the group, which has seen its membership languish in recent years. 

We have often blogged on the issue of gifts and trusts that are set aside as being "contrary to public policy". 

For example, in Canada Trust Co. v. Ontario Human Rights Commission the Court stated: 

"The settlor’s freedom to dispose of his property through the creation of a charitable trust fashioned along these lines must give way to current principles of public policy under which all races and religions are to be treated on a footing of equality and accorded equal regard and equal respect."

However that case dealt with a charitable trust established to promote education. The Court went on to say that the same public policy argument does not apply to a private family trust:

"This public policy would only affect charitable trusts; it would not affect a private family trust. It is the public nature of charitable trusts which attracts the requirement that they conform to the public policy against discrimination."

In Canada it is illegal to donate money to terrorist groups, but this means the group has to be listed as such.   There is also case law that says that the Courts can interfere with the disposition of property if "the safety of the state, or the economic or social well-being of the state" are at stake and "the harm to the public is substantially incontestable. 

Notwithstanding the above, and the general public outcry, it appears that the gift will soon be released to the group.  

Thanks for Reading!
Moira Visoiu

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