Fraud by False Paternity Claims?
Last week, Stuart Clark blogged on what happens when unexpected DNA results lead to a person finding out that they aren’t, in fact, biologically related to a parent who dies intestate or leave a class gift to “my children” in their Will. Today, I’ll be looking at recent case in BC reported on by CBC with a similar problem. In a case now moving through the BC courts, the Deceased, who had immigrated to Canada from Sweden in the 1950s, named his only child as the sole beneficiary of his estate and of an alter ego trust. Suspicious of the son’s paternity claims, relatives of the Deceased sought and obtained a paternity test that proved that the purported son was actually not biologically related to the Deceased.
Because the “son” was named in the Deceased’s Will (and in prior Wills), there is no need for either the son or the Deceased’s relatives to seek declarations regarding the son’s parentage. Instead, the relatives of the Deceased are now fighting the son’s entitlement to any interest in the Estate on the basis that the son and his mother committed fraud and deceit against the Deceased for over 50 years in order to induce the Deceased into naming the son as the sole beneficiary of his estate.
Although he moved to Canada in the 1950s, the Deceased continued to return home to Sweden during his lifetime and had a romantic relationship with the son’s mother in Sweden. According to the Swedish relatives, the Deceased wrote to the mother in 1964 and informed her of his success in Vancouver, following which she wrote to him and informed him that her son, born in 1961, was also his son. The Deceased began including the mother and son in his testamentary documents in 1966.
While the Swedish relatives claim that the son and mother perpetrated a longstanding fraud on the Deceased so as to benefit the son, the son claims that he was only informed (by the Deceased) that the Deceased was his father in 2002, that he requested paternity tests on two occasions and that the Deceased declined to do so, knowing that there was a chance that the son was not biologically related to him.
It is early days yet in the litigation of this matter with the parties having just received judgment on an (unsuccessful) motion seeking to have the Swedish relatives post security for costs. If this matter doesn’t settle, it will be interesting to see whether a Court will find that a 50 year fraud was committed on the Deceased such that the bequests provided to the son are invalid.
Thanks for reading!