Tag: contested passing
As is often the case, a person who is concerned about a fiduciary’s management of property may wish to compel an accounting. However, it is important to remember that a person’s ability to compel such an accounting may vary depending on whether an accounting is being sought from an estate trustee of a deceased’s estate or, in the alternative, from an attorney for property during the lifetime of an incapable grantor.
The legal framework in Ontario
In Ontario, pursuant to section 50 of the Estates Act, an executor or administrator shall not be required to account by the Court “…unless at the instance or on behalf of some person interested in such property or of a creditor of the deceased….” Further, Rule 74.15(1)(h) of the Rules of Civil Procedure provides for any person who appears to have a financial interest in an estate to move for an order for assistance requiring an estate trustee to pass his or her accounts.
Conversely, the right to compel an accounting from an attorney for property or guardian of property is set out under section 42 of the Substitute Decisions Act. Pursuant to section 42, in addition to the attorney, the guardian and the incapable person, the following persons may apply for the fiduciary’s accounts to be passed:
- The grantor’s or incapable persons’ guardian of the person or attorney for personal care;
- A dependant of the grantor or incapable person;
- The Public Guardian and Trustee;
- The Children’s Lawyer;
- A judgment creditor of the grantor or incapable person; and
- Any other person, with leave of the Court.
This is an important distinction to keep in mind: although a person with a financial interest in the estate may be able to compel an accounting from an estate trustee, such a financial interest on the death of an incapable grantor may not in and of itself be sufficient to compel an accounting from an attorney for property during the lifetime of the incapable.
What is the criteria for obtaining the leave of the Court?
The recent decision of the Honourable Justice LeMay in Groh v Steele, 2017 ONSC 3625, is an important reminder of the high threshold for obtaining the leave of the Court to compel an accounting from an attorney for property under section 42.
In Groh, the Applicant, Ernest, sought a capacity assessment of his mother Gabriella under the Substitute Decisions Act. Ernest also sought an order for the suspension of Gabriella’s attorneys for property ability to act and an order for the attorneys for property to pass their accounts. Ernest’s Application was opposed by Gabriella and her attorneys for property.
On the issue of Ernest’s request that the attorneys pass their accounts, Justice LeMay reviewed section 42 of the SDA and concluded that “it is clear that the only circumstances in which Ernest could ask for a passing of accounts is if he can obtain leave of the Court.”
Justice LeMay went on to make the following statement regarding the circumstances in which leave should be granted by the Court:
In my view, such leave should be granted sparingly. The passing of accounts is a detailed review of the financial affairs of the grantor. As such, it is something that is intrusive, and will reveal private financial information about the grantor. In order to obtain leave, the party applying would have to establish both that he or she had some interest (at least indirectly) in the affairs of the grantor, and that there was at least some evidence that the Attorneys were not properly conducting the affairs of the donor. The Court should also consider the role that the Attorneys are playing in the Grantor’s affairs.
After reviewing the facts before the Court, Justice LeMay concluded that a formal passing of accounts should not be ordered, and Ernest’s Application was dismissed.
Thank you for reading,
Umair Abdul Qadir
Today’s blog is the last in my series this week touching upon certain aspects of preparation for trial/hearing in a contested passing of accounts. The items discussed this week were certainly not meant to be, nor were they, exhaustive. Preparation necessary for a hearing/trial with narrow issues, few documents, few evidentiary concerns and an uncomplicated Estate will obviously be different than a case with numerous issues, voluminous documents, evidentiary issues and a complicated administration. The critical aspect of trial preparation is that it begins at the beginning of a case; not literally, but certainly in the sense of being mindful at pre-trial stages of the evidentiary considerations and how the evidence is to be marshalled and presented.
Aside from ensuring that you have appropriate resource materials at the trial (such as texts dealing with the rules of evidence, the Rules of Civil Procedure, Probate Practice etc.), it is important to have prepared your opening and closing statements (to the extent possible), have prepared the necessary law regarding the substantive issues in dispute (casebook, factum), have addressed costs submissions (organizing offers to settle, preparing a Bill of Costs etc.), and have a trial binder with you at trial for your own use.
A trial binder may contain the pertinent materials that you would like to have at your fingertips during the trial (ie. pleadings, orders, witness lists, witness summaries, answers to undertakings, listing of the types of evidence, objections, offers to settle etc.). The trial binder will allow you to have quick access to information that you might only have a few minutes or less to locate and quickly review.
While most contested passings settle at a pre-trial stage, if a trial is necessary, success may hinge on the preparedness of the parties.
Thanks for reading.
Craig R. Vander Zee – Click here fore more information on Craig Vander Zee.
Today’s blog is a continuation of my blogs this week addressing some aspects of preparation for a trial/hearing in a contested passing of accounts. I briefly touch upon transcripts, the Request to Admit and Witnesses today.
It is important in preparing for trial to review the transcripts of the examinations conducted to assist counsel with locating evidence in the transcripts during trial, including admissions and/or inconsistent statements made by a witness at trial, to address the completeness of questions on the examinations, and whether additional discovery is needed before trial.
If a damages brief is to be provided by the opposing party as a result of an undertaking at examinations or otherwise, one can ensure that it has been provided.
A party may also, further to Rule 51.02 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, at any time, by serving a Request to Admit, request any other party to admit, for the purposes of the proceeding only, the truth of a fact or the authenticity of a document. A copy of any document mentioned in the Request to Admit shall, where practicable be served with the request (unless a copy is already in the possession of the other party).
The opposing party must respond to the Request to Admit as required by the Rules of Civil Procedure, failing which the opposing party will be deemed to admit the truth of the facts asserted in the Request to Admit or the authenticity of the documents referred to in the Request to Admit.
There may be cost consequences if a party refuses to admit the truth of a fact or authenticate documents which are proven or authenticated during the trial.
Requests to Admit may be effective to: (i) reduce the facts in dispute, (ii) reduce the number of witnesses to be called and/or the examination of a witness, (iii) minimize the costs and length of the trial, and (iv) avoid having to authenticate documents.
With respect to witnesses, amongst other things, it is helpful to make a witness list of anticipated witnesses for each of the parties, prepare a chart of the issues/documents to be proved by each witness and identify and consider the concerns, evidentiary or not, with the evidence and documents to be dealt with by each witness. If the witnesses are experts, the Rules of Civil Procedure have certain requirements. Summons to Witness should also be considered (Rule 53.04) as well as whether an Order excluding witnesses is necessary (Rule 52.06).
Thanks for reading.
Craig R. Vander Zee – Click here for more information on Craig Vander Zee.
Listen to Passing of Accounts
This week on Hull on Estates, Diane Vieira and Craig Vander Zee talk about how to avoid conflict during the passing of accounts.
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Listen to Preparing for Trials in the Context of Contested Passing of Accounts
In this podcast, Craig Vander Zee and Paul Trudelle discuss trial preparation considerations in the context of a contested passing of accounts.