Tag: act

31 Mar

Lapse and Anti-Lapse

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I regularly tutor students who are preparing to write the Estate and Trust section of the Solicitor’s exam for the Law Society. One of the more common questions that my students ask is for help in explaining two concepts: lapse and the “anti-lapse provision”.

The common definition of a lapsed gift, is a gift that has failed because it is incapable of taking effect.   Two common reasons for a gift to be incapable of taking effect is where the beneficiary predeceases the testator or the gift is disclaimed by the beneficiary.  

 

Pursuant to Section 23 of the Succession Law Reform Act, unless a contrary intention appears in the Deceased’s Will, if a gift is incapable of taking effect, the failed gift will fall into the residue of the testator’s estate and distributed accordingly.

 

Section 31 of the Succession Law Reform Act is commonly referred to as the anti-lapse provision. The anti-lapse provision saves a failed gift if the beneficiary falls into the class of beneficiaries set-out under this provision and that beneficiary leaves a spouse or issue who survived the testator. If these conditions are met, the gift will not fall into the residue, however it will take effect as if it had been made directly to the spouse or issue of predeceased beneficiary.

 

Thank you for reading, and have a great day.

Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.

30 Mar

Appointing an Estate Trustee During Litigation

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In a recent court decision, the Honourable Justice Stinson considered a motion from competing family members for the appointment of an estate trustee during litigation.

In Buswa v. Canzoneri, the Deceased died without a Will on September 29, 2010. The Deceased did not have a spouse and was survived by seven siblings, and two children.

The concern in this case was that the Deceased did not leave anyone with legal authority or responsibility to arrange his funeral and dispose of his remains.

Two of the Deceased’s siblings, the Applicants, applied for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee Without a Will. The daughter of the Deceased, the Respondent, also applied for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee Without a Will.

 

In his decision, the Honourable Justice Stinson considered the legal interpretation of section 29 of the Estates Act, which reads as follows:

1)  Subject to subsection (3), where a person dies intestate … administration of the property of the deceased may be committed by the Superior Court of Justice to:

 

a)      the person to whom the deceased was married immediately before the death of the deceased or person with whom the deceased was living in a conjugal relationship outside marriage immediately before the death;

 

b)      the next of kin of the deceased;

As the Deceased did not have a spouse, the court considered the definition of “next of kin.” In the Black’s Law Dictionary, “next of kin” is defined as “the person’s nearest of kindred to the decedent, that is, those who are most nearly related by blood.

 

Applying these concepts, the court held that the Respondent daughter was related to the Deceased by blood in the first degree, whereas the Applicants siblings were related to the Deceased in the second degree. Accordingly, the Respondent daughter was appointed as the Estate Trustee During Litigation.

 

Thank you for reading, and have a great day.


Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.

14 Jul

When is one a “personal representative”?

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Estates law often has distinct legal meanings for common terms. Take the term "personal representative". The term is defined in estates statutes, but also appears with and without definition in business corporations statutes and other statutes. 

 

Adams v. Ontario (1996) provides that when the phrase "personal representative" is used in connection with a deceased and the administration of the deceased’s estate, it can have only one meaning, which is the meaning set out in the definition contained in the Estates Administration Act, the Trustee Act, and in the Succession Law Reform Act:

1(1) “personal representative” means an executor, an administrator, or an administrator
with the will annexed.

The term is therefore very broad: it includes both the executor (who may never receive probate) and the recipient of a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will.

The same case acknowledges that the term “personal representative” can have other meanings when it is not applied to a deceased or the administration of a deceased’s estate, such as in Ontario’s Business Corporations Act.

Thanks for reading,

Christopher M.B. Graham – Click here for more information on Chris Graham.

 

09 Feb

The Good Government Act, 2009: Reform to the Regulation of Charities

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As I noted yesterday, Ontario’s Good Government Act 2009 has received royal assent. Over 300 pieces of legislation have been amended or repealed, including various statutes dealing with the regulation of charities in Ontario.  

Of particular note are the following two changes:

1.    The Charitable Gifts Act (the “CGA”) has been repealed. This Act has long been criticized for unnecessarily restricting the ability of charities from directly or indirectly owning more than a 10% interest in a business, particularly as the Income Tax Act already imposes various restrictions on registered charities conducting business activities. The repeal of the CGA may be a welcome change to Ontario charities wishing to acquire an interest in a business for investment purposes. 

2.    An amendment to the Charities Accounting Act (“CAA”) relates to the section dealing with interests in real or personal property held for a charitable purpose. Historically, the CAA restricted the ownership of real estate by an Ontario charity by requiring that land could only be held to the extent that it was used for the charitable purpose. A charity could not own excess land and lease it out. Any excess property was subject to vesting in the Public Guardian and Trustee. The amended section now simply provides that a charity that holds an interest in real or personal property for a charitable purpose shall use the property for the charitable purpose. This amendment will presumably allow charities to hold excess property, both real or personal, and invest such property in order to earn income. 

For a more fulsome discussion of the effect of the Good Government Act, 2009 on charities, see Miller Thomson’s informative newsletter.

Bianca La Neve

Bianca V. La Neve – Click here for more information on Bianca La Neve.

08 Feb

The Good Government Act, 2009

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On December 15, 2009, the Good Government Act, 2009 received royal assent. This statute amended or repealed over 300 pieces of legislation, ranging from the Accumulations Act to the Off-Road Vehicles Act. There are various amendments that should be of particular interest to those of us who practice estate, capacity and trust litigation.

The Crown Administration of Estates Act is amended by adding a new section 5.1, dealing with the enforceability of compensation agreements. A “compensation agreement” is defined to mean an agreement with an heir of an estate that provides for compensation, directly or indirectly, to one or more persons or entities on the location, recovery or distribution of any interest in the estate to which the heir may be entitled. In cases of estates administered by the Public Guardian and Trustee, there must be fair disclosure before a possible heir is asked to sign a compensation agreement. In addition, there is a cap on compensation of 10 per cent of the value of the possible heir’s interest in the estate. Click here for the complete text of the Act.

The Health Care Consent Act, 1996 is amended to increase the time allowed, from two days to four days, for the Consent and Capacity Board to issue written reasons for decisions. In addition, the Act is amended to allow the Board to direct Legal Aid Ontario (instead of the Public Guardian and Trustee or the Office of the Children’s Lawyer) to arrange for legal representation for a person who may be incapable with respect to a treatment, managing property, admission to a care facility or a personal assistance service. Click here for the complete text of this Act.

Bianca La Neve

Bianca V. La Neve – Click here for more information on Bianca La Neve.

15 Oct

Revival or Republication?

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The concept of reviving a revoked will seems clear enough.  But what is the difference between a revival and a republication, and why does it matter? 

Revival means reactivating a revoked will.  Note that section 19(1) of Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act requires a revival to be in accordance with the provisions of Part I of the Act.  So an oral declaration that a revoked will is valid does not suffice.  A destroyed will cannot be revived, unless the reviving instrument contains a copy or the terms.  On the other hand, at Common Law, a codicil referencing an existing will "republishes" that will, furnishing evidence of the testator’s considering his will as then existing.  And because the Wills Act, 1837 did not abolish the doctrine of republication, the principle still operates.  Both revived and republished wills are deemed executed on the revival or republication date. 

An attempt to revive a will that was never actually revoked may have the result of republishing that will at the time of the attempted revival.  However, attempting to republish a revoked will not revive a revoked will, unless the acts of republication also satisfy the requirements of a revival (which include the form requirements of the Succession Law Reform Act.  Specific uses of the doctrine of republication are discussed in detail in Macdonell, Sheard and Hull on Probate Practice, 4th ed., Rodney Hull, Q.C. and Ian M. Hull (Carswell: Toronto, 1996), pp. 116-119. 

Have a good day,

Chris Graham

Christopher M.B. Graham – Click here for more information on Chris Graham.

 

 

01 Sep

The Price for Spending Eternity with Marilyn Monroe

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Earlier this month, Elsie Poncher posted on eBay her late husband’s crypt for sale. The unique feature about the crypt is its location directly above the crypt of Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe in Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery. Mrs. Poncher decided to sell the valuable crypt and move her husband’s remains to another part of the cemetery in order pay the $1.6 million mortgage on her Beverly Hills home.
 
Last week, someone purchased the crypt with a winning bid of $4.6 million. That bid has since fallen through with the bidder unable to pay but there were a number of other multi-million dollar bids which may now become the winning bid.
 
In Ontario, the
Cemeteries Act

prohibits the private resale of burial plots or crypts. When someone purchases a burial plot, they receive interment rights in perpetuity, not property rights. The property rights belong to the cemetery and if required, transfer to a third party requires the consent of the cemetery and the cemetery maintains the right to buy back the interment rights.
 
However,  in the United States many states do not have similar legislation and some suggest that the reselling of burial plots have increased in recent economic times .
 
Thanks for Reading,

Diane Vieira

 

Diane Vieira – Click here for more information on Diane Vieira.

19 Aug

Section 72(1)(e) SLRA: express/written trust instrument is a required element

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Part V of Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act ("SLRA") establishes a mechanism whereby qualifying dependants can claim support from the estate of a deceased.  Section 72 of the SLRA is a deeming provision that includes certain non-estate assets as part of the estate for the purposes of calculating the value of the estate, and allows such assets to be charged ("clawed back") by a support Order made under section 63 of the SLRA. 

The recent case of Simson v. De Bartolo 2009 CanLII 38493 (ON S.C.) interprets section 72(1) and applies Cummings v. Cummings 2004 CanLII 9339 (ON C.A.), the Court of Appeals decision holding that support awards are subject to moral considerations.  One issue following Cummings has been whether moral considerations justify a support award in and of themselves, or whether moral considerations are merely relevant to quantum of support following a determination that a support award is appropriate.

The applicant in Simson v. De Bartolo was litigation guardian for her child, born out of wedlock to the deceased and the actual support claimant.  When the applicant told the deceased’s wife about their relationship and the child, the deceased transferred these properties to his wife (from joint ownership) and made a will disinheriting the child.  Later, the deceased died virtually penniless.  At issue in a motion was whether properties transferred by the deceased to his wife 10 years prior to his death could be deemed part of the deceased’s estate under any enumerated grounds in section 72(1). 

Justice Lemon held that these assets could not be "clawed back" under s. 72(1).  Most particularly, a transfer of land to another party in the absence of an express written trust instrument does not fall within section 72(1)(e).  Of course, the transfer may still be impressed with a trust, as Justice Lemon pointed out, and if such trust pulls the asset into the estate, the SLRA provides for protection of the dependant pursuant to section 67.  Moral considerations were relevant in determining quantum of support, but not whether an asset forms part of the estate.

The facts in Simson v. De Bartolo appear to have precluded the court from addressing the Cummings question, at least in the motion being heard.  However, section 72 has been clarified.

Enjoy your day,

Chris Graham

 

Chris M.B. Graham – Click here for more information on Chris Graham.

 

 

 

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02 Jul

Adult Children Making Gains

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My colleague Natalia Angelini blogged on February 18 of this year about the increasing possibility that independent, adult children may be entitled to dependant support.

A 2009 Ontario Bar Association paper by Susan Woodley concluded that moral obligations of deceased parents in Ontario may require them to provide proper and adequate support to their children, spouse and dependants.

While the legislation in British Columbia clearly distinguishes any case from that province, a consideration of a recent case on point illustrates the roots of this evolving trend. 

In Sikora v. Sikora Estate 2009 BCSC 195, two of four adult sons of the testator brought an action under B.C.’s Wills Variation Act.  The Deceased had one child by his first marriage, three children with a subsequent common-law spouse, and at his death he was married to the defendant, San Meei Sikora. The Deceased’s residue to be divided amongst three sons equalled just over $11,500.

The two plaintiff brothers maintained contact with their father despite a difficult childhood. Each plaintiff provided evidence of respective incomes of about $90,000 and $35,000 and described their relationships with their father whom they assisted in his business and investment properties over the years. The Deceased’s wife’s responses created some credibility problems for her.

Justice Cullen reviewed the case law from the Supreme Court, Tataryn v. Tataryn Estate and a B.C. case, Clucas v. Clucas Estate (1999), 25 ETR (2d) 175 (BCSC) that summarizes the principles of the Wills Variation Act.

In Sikora, the Deceased’s wife accumulated her own assets while the Deceased did not. The plaintiffs showed that despite their independence their father had a moral obligation towards them.  The residue of the Deceased’s estate diminished in a manner that favoured his surviving wife and his moral obligation to his spouse was less firmly established than in other cases.

The Deceased used his money to purchase the matrimonial home, allowing the defendant to invest her money and increase her own assets. The plaintiffs succeeded and were therefore registered as tenants in common on a property with a life interest to the defendant.

Thank you for reading this week.  Enjoy your weekend.

Jonathan

22 Apr

A Will Challenge under the Indian Act

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In keeping with yesterday’s blog on a British Columbia real estate matter, today I focus on another BC case – Albas v. Gabriel 2009 BCSC 198 – that involves the Indian Act, a federal statute. 

For a quick recap of the interplay between provincial and federal jurisdiction regarding estate matters and First Nations people living on reserves, I refer to David Smith’s 2007 blog: The Administration of Estates under the Indian Act. 

Albas v. Gabriel involved an action by the plaintiff, as executor of the estate, for a declaration proving the deceased’s Will in solemn form.  The defendant beneficiaries appealed to the Minister of Northern and Indian Affairs because the Minister has jurisdiction to approve a Will made by an Indian and to confirm the appointment of an executor to administer the estate. Specificially, the Minister’s authority is provided by section 43 of the Indian Act.

A member of an Indian Band and a resident of a reserve, the deceased operated a trailer park and he was a “locatee” of the land because he owned “certificates of possession”: valuable assets that he left equally to his daughter and two step-children. This was just one of the businesses with which the deceased was involved.

The daughter challenged both the validity of the Will and the administration of the estate. The judge determined that the daughter believed that if the Will was declared invalid, she would inherit the entire estate.

Because of the Will challenge, the Minister transferred jurisdiction over the estate to the Supreme Court of British Columbia pursuant to s. 44(1).

Ultimately, the Court found that the Will was valid because it was not forged and the testator had capacity as well as knowledge of the Will which he approved.

Enjoy your day.

Jonathan

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