Tag: dependant

08 Oct

Notice of Contestation of Claim – Can you use it for all potential claims?

Stuart Clark Executors and Trustees Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Yesterday I blogged about the Notice of Contestation of Claim, which is a process that in essence provides the Estate Trustee with the ability to require individuals with a potential claim against the estate to commence such a claim within 30 days of being served with the Notice of Contestation of Claim failing which they are deemed to have abandoned the claim such that they can no longer pursue it before the court.

The power given to an Estate Trustee by the Notice of Contestation of Claim coupled with the relatively short timeframe by which the claimant must respond could appear attractive to an Estate Trustee, potentially enticing the Estate Trustee to use such a process to flush out all potential claims at the early stages of the administration of the estate. This is turn raises questions about the kinds of claims that the Notice of Contestation of Claim can be used for, and whether it can be used for all potential claims against an estate or whether the claims against which it can be used are more limited. Could you, for example, serve a possible dependant with a Notice of Contestation of Claim, and in doing so require the alleged dependant to bring their claim for support forward within 30 days failing which they are deemed to have abandoned their claim?

The issue of whether a Notice of Contestation of Claim can be used against a potential dependant of the estate was dealt with by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Omiciuolo v. Pasco, 2008 ONCA 241, wherein the court confirmed that the Notice of Contestation of Claim could not be used in relation to a potential claim for support by a dependant under Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act. In coming to such a decision the Court of Appeal notes that historically the “claim or demand” referenced in sections 44 and 45 of the Estates Act had been interpreted to mean a “claim or demand against the estate by a ‘creditor’ for payment of money on demand“, and that it could not be used for claims such as declaratory relief or a claim for judicial sale or foreclosure.

From the Court of Appeal’s rationale in Omiciuolo v. Pasco it would appear that the “claims” against which a Notice of Contestation of Claim can be used are likely limited to claims of potential creditors of the estate (i.e. claims that the deceased owed an individual money), and that it cannot be used against other more nuanced or equitable claims such as a potential claim from a dependant for support or declaratory relief.

Thank you for reading.

Stuart Clark

03 Jun

Dependant’s Support: Was the Deceased Providing Support Before Death?

Rebecca Rauws Support After Death Tags: , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

I recently came across an article discussing a court’s decision in respect of what appears to be a claim for dependant’s support in Tasmania. In the decision of Booth v Brooks [2018] TASSC 35, the deceased died with a Will that did not leave anything to his estranged daughter. The deceased was also survived by a long-term partner  and two adult sons, who were mentioned in his Will.

The daughter made a claim under a Tasmanian statute, the Testator’s Family Maintenance Act 1912 (the “TFMA”). Section 3(1) of the TFMA states as follows:

3 (1)  If a person dies, whether testate or intestate, and in terms of his will or as a result of his intestacy any person by whom or on whose behalf application for provision out of his estate may be made under this Act is left without adequate provision for his proper maintenance and support thereafter, the Court or a judge may, in its or his discretion, on application made by or on behalf of the last-mentioned person, order that such provision as the Court or judge, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, thinks proper shall be made out of the estate of the deceased person for all or any of the persons by whom or on whose behalf such an application may be made, and may make such other order in the matter, including an order as to costs, as the Court or judge thinks fit.

By comparison, section 58(1) of Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act, (the “SLRA”) seems to have quite similar language. Section 58(1) provides:

58 (1) Where a deceased, whether testate or intestate, has not made adequate provision for the proper support of his dependants or any of them, the court, on application, may order that such provision as it considers adequate be made out of the estate of the deceased for the proper support of the dependants or any of them.

Under the SLRA, in order to qualify as a “dependant”, one must be a spouse, parent, child, or brother or sister of the deceased, to whom the deceased was providing support or was under a legal obligation to provide support immediately before his death. The TFMA, on the other hand, provides in section 3A that the persons who may make an application pursuant to section 3(1) are the:

  • spouse;
  • children;
  • parents (if the deceased person dies without a spouse or children); and
  • person who had a certain relationship with the deceased, and who was entitled to receive maintenance from the deceased at the time of his or her death.

In Booth v Brooks, the court concluded that the daughter had been left without adequate provision. One of the factors that lead to this conclusion was that the deceased had not had a good relationship with the daughter throughout her life and had not provided her with any direct financial support. In particular, the court stated that the deceased’s “abnegation of parental responsibility during childhood increases the moral obligation of the testator to the child”.

It seems that the key difference in the law in Tasmania versus Ontario that came into play in the Booth v Brooks decision, which would likely have resulted in a different outcome had the scenario arisen in Ontario, is that the TFMA does not require that a spouse, child, or parent be receiving or entitled to support or “maintenance” at the time of the deceased’s death. Interestingly, the Tasmanian law seems to lean the other way—if the deceased has not provided adequate support during his or her lifetime, it may increase the ability of a child or spouse to obtain support from the deceased’s estate.

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

You may also be interested in these other blog posts:

24 Jul

SLRA Dependant Awarded Entirety of Estate

Doreen So Common Law Spouses, Continuing Legal Education, Estate Planning, Executors and Trustees, Litigation, Support After Death Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

In Michael v. Thomas, 2018 ONSC 3125, Justice Ramsay awarded a dependant support claimant the entirety of the Estate net of all debts and liabilities.  The dependant support claimant in this case was a common law spouse of approximately 20 years.  Ms. Michael was in her late-fifties/early sixties when Mr. Chambers died suddenly from cancer without a will. 

Mr. Chambers and Ms. Michael were not married at the time of Mr. Chambers’ death.  Accordingly, Ms. Michael was not a beneficiary of Mr. Chambers’ Estate pursuant to the rules of intestacy.  Mr. Chambers did not have any children either so the beneficiaries of his Estate were his surviving siblings and two nephews who were the sons of his predeceased sister.

Justice Ramsay found that Mr. Chambers and Ms. Michael lived modestly during Mr. Chambers’ life.  They were joint owners of their home, which Ms. Michael received by right of survivorship.  The home was subject to a mortgage of about half its market value in the amount of $150,000.00.  Ms. Michael was also the beneficiary of a modest $80,000.00 life insurance policy and her income became supplemented by an additional $3,325 per month through the deceased’s CPP and pension benefits.  Ms. Michael worked part-time and has two adult children of her own.  Interestingly, Justice Ramsay commented that Ms. Michael should not have to seek support from her adult children under the Family Law Act (even though she could, theoretically) before seeking support from Mr. Chambers’ Estate.

In considering the Respondent’s case, Justice Ramsay found that Mr. Chambers did not have any other dependants and that he was estranged from the only party who responded to Ms. Michael’s claims in Court.  Mr. Chambers’ sister argued that Ms. Michael already received $203,965 out of the assets of the Estate, which, including section 72 assets, were worth a total $285,000.   She further argued that Ms. Michael would be able to maintain the same standard of living that she used to enjoy if Ms. Michael supplements the pension income by working full-time at minimum wage.  In his analysis, Justice Ramsay squarely stated as follows:

[19]           I do not agree. It is not reasonable to expect the Applicant to take an entry level job at the age of 62 when she is already past the point of being able to sustain full time physical labour, even light physical labour. Even if it were possible, it would only raise her earnings to the low $40,000 range, which would still not be enough to continue the modest standard to which she was accustomed. I do not think that the intestate made adequate provision for the proper support of the Applicant.

[20]           The estate is not big enough to make periodic payments. In fact it is not big enough to provide the proper support the Applicant needs. I think that a judicious spouse would have left her the entire estate, such as it is. The Applicant is the only dependant and the only person with any moral claim on the estate. Accordingly I order the trustee to convey to the Applicant the entire residue of the estate after payment of taxes, debts of the estate and his own fees and I declare that the amounts already received or already in the Applicant’s possession are hers to keep.

Ms. Michael was also awarded partial indemnity costs from Mr. Chambers’ sister.  Mr. Chambers’ sister was found to have no need for “more found money” from Mr. Chambers’ Estate because of the inheritance that she received from their mother, and that costs from the Estate would have the same effect as awarding costs against Ms. Michael.

Thanks for reading!

Doreen So

09 Apr

The Support Claim as a Remedy for the Disappointed Spouse

Kira Domratchev Support After Death, Wills Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Occasionally, a person finds themselves in a situation in which, following their spouse’s death, they were either not adequately provided for under their spouse’s Will or were not provided for at all.

Especially in situations where the deceased fully supported his or her spouse, one viable option is for the surviving spouse to assert a claim for support under Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act, RSO 1990, c. S. 26 (the “SLRA”).

A surviving spouse, either married or common-law as defined in the SLRA fits into the definition of a “dependant” and is thus entitled to support from the deceased spouse’s estate.  The question for the Court is whether the deceased made adequate provision for his/her surviving spouse and, if not, what ought to be the quantum of support.

Under the SLRA, a “dependant” includes not just married spouses, but also either of two persons who,

  • were married to each other by a marriage that was terminated or declared a nullity; or
  • are not married to each other and have cohabited,
    • continuously for a period of not less than three years, or
    • in a relationship of some permanence, if they are the natural or adoptive parents of a child.

It is important to keep in mind that such a claim under the SLRA must be brought within six months of obtaining probate, unless the Court allows for an extension of time. Probate is another term for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will that is usually obtained by the Estate Trustee for proper administration of the Estate.

The Court may consider various factors in assessing the nature, amount and duration of support, including the eighteen factors listed under section 62(1) of the SLRA some of which are:

  • The Dependant’s current assets and means;
  • The Dependant’s capacity to contribute to their own support;
  • The Dependant’s age and physical and mental health;
  • The Dependant’s needs – with regard to accustomed standard of living;
  • Any agreement between the Dependant and the deceased spouse; and
  • The proximity and the duration of the Dependant’s relationship with the deceased spouse.

If a claim for dependant’s relief is successful, the Court has broad discretion and can make a variety of orders for support, including but not limited to:

  • A monthly or annual payment, for an indefinite or limited period of time or until the occurrence of a specific event;
  • A lump sum payment;
  • The transfer of specified property, either absolutely, for life, or a specified number of years; or
  • The possession or use of any specified property for life or for such period as the Court considers appropriate.

In any event, if a person believes that they may have a good case for a Dependant’s Support Claim under the SLRA, it is important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible so as to file the claim within the allotted limitation period and discuss any other options.

Thanks for reading.

Kira Domratchev

Find this blog interesting? Please consider these other related posts:

Dependant’s Support – Do common law spouses have to live in the same residence?

Dependant Support and Pre-Retirement Death Benefits

Can Divorced Spouses No Longer Be Dependants?

 

07 Sep

Update: Can divorced spouses be dependants?

Stuart Clark Support After Death Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Back in February 2017 I blogged about how, as a result of a recent change in the definition of “spouse” within the confines of Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act (the “SLRA”), divorced spouses could arguably no longer qualify as a “spouse” of the deceased individual for the purposes of dependant’s support. As a divorced spouse would be unlikely to be included amongst any other class of individual who could qualify as a “dependant” of the deceased, the effect of such a change was to potentially deprive divorced spouses from the ability to seek support from their deceased ex-spouse’s estate following death.

The issue centered on the removal of language from the definition of “spouse” within Part V of the SLRA. The definition of spouse previously included language which provided that a “spouse” included two people who “were married to each other by a marriage that was terminated or declared a nullity”. The revised definition provided that “spouse” under Part V of the SLRA had the same meaning as section 29 of the Family Law Act. As section 29 of the Family Law Act did not include similar language to the definition of spouse including two people who “were married to each other by a marriage that was terminated or declared a nullity”, but rather simply provided that “spouse” was defined as including two people who were married to each other or who are not married to each other but cohabitated continuously for a period of not less than three years (i.e. common law spouses), the argument was that divorced spouses could no longer be “spouses” for the purposes of Part V of the SLRA.

Much debate ensued in the profession following such a change in definition about what impact, if any, it would have upon a divorced spouse’s ability to seek support after death. Such debate now appears to be moot, as the Ontario legislature appears to have acknowledged the confusion caused by the change in definition, and has again changed the definition of “spouse” within the confines of Part V of the SLRA with the passage of the Stronger, Healthier Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017, S.O. 2017, C.8 (the “Stronger, Healthier Ontario Act”).

In accordance with “Schedule 29” of the Stronger, Healthier Ontario Act, the definition of “spouse” as contained in Part V of the SLRA now reads as follows:

“Spouse” has the same meaning as in section 29 of the Family Law Act and in addition includes either of two persons who were married to each other by a marriage that was terminated by divorce.” [emphasis added]

The revised definition of “spouse” leaves no doubt that divorced spouses can qualify as a dependant of their deceased ex-spouse within the meaning of Part V of the SLRA. Interestingly, while the revised definition of “spouse” clearly includes divorced spouses, it does not contain a reference to those individuals whose marriage was “declared a nullity” as the previous definition of spouse contained. As a result, it is still questionable whether those individuals whose marriage was declared a nullity could be considered a “spouse” within the confines of Part V of the SLRA, and whether they could bring an Application for support as a dependant of their ex-spouse’s estate following death.

Thank you for reading.

Stuart Clark

Find this blog interesting? Please consider these other related topics:

Can Divorced Spouses no longer be Dependants?

Cohabitation and Marriage

Dependant Support Claims, Limitation Periods and the Vesting of Real Property

03 Aug

Dependant Support Claims, Limitation Periods and Life Interest Beneficiaries

Umair Estate Planning, Executors and Trustees, Litigation, Support After Death, Trustees Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

We have previously blogged about the limitation period that applies to applications for dependant’s relief under Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act, and the circumstances in which the Court will extend the limitation period.

In the recent decision of Habberfield v Sciamonte, 2017 ONSC 4332, the Court was asked to consider whether an application for support by a beneficiary with a life interest in a testamentary trust was statute-barred.

The Law Regarding Limitation Periods and Dependant Support Claims

Section 61(1) of the Succession Law Reform Act (the “SLRA”) provides that an application for dependant’s support must be made within six months from the issuance of probate.

An application may be made beyond the six-month limitation period, with leave. Section 61(2) of the SLRA provides the Court with discretion, if it considers it proper, to allow an application to be made by a dependant “at any time with respect to any portion of the estate remaining undistributed at the date of the application”.

Generally, case law has interpreted s. 61(2) to limit any claim made after six months to the remaining, undistributed portion of the estate, and to bar any claim made after the assets have been fully distributed. Paul Trudelle previously blogged on this application of s. 61(2).

The Facts

In Habberfield, the Applicant (“Joan”) claimed that she was the long-time common law spouse of the Deceased. The Deceased died on April 11, 2012. Probate was granted on October 30, 2012. Joan’s application was heard on June 30, 2017, more than five years after the Deceased’s death.

At the time of the application, the assets of the Deceased’s Estate had an approximate value of $2,000,000.00. The assets primarily consisted of the Deceased’s home and an adjacent rental property.

Under the Deceased’s Will, the home and the rental property were to be held in trust for Joan until she died, no longer desired the properties, entered into a new relationship or moved to a seniors’ or nursing home. Upon such an event, the Will directed for the properties to be sold and for $100,000.00 to be held in a discretionary trust to meet Joan’s needs. The balance of the net proceeds of sale were to be divided amongst the Deceased’s issue. Joan was responsible for the carrying and repair costs for the properties during her life tenancy.

On the application, Joan argued that she had not considered the adequacy of the support she received under the Will prior to the expiration of the limitation period. At the time of the application, Joan was 78 years old, had limited resources to continue to pay the carrying costs of the properties and was considering moving into a care home. The latter option would only provide her with an interest in a discretionary trust of $100,000.00.

The respondent Estate Trustees argued that Joan’s claim was statute-barred, and also argued that Joan’s claim for support was weak on its merits.

Justice Lofchik’s Decision

As in prior cases that have considered the Court’s discretion under s. 61(2) of the SLRA, Justice Lofchik concluded that the discretion should be “exercised judicially in a broad and liberal manner.”

Justice Lofchik noted that the bulk of the Deceased’s Estate remained undistributed, and in fact could not be distributed until Joan’s life interest was extinguished. As a result, Justice Lofchik held that there would be no prejudice to the Estate or to the residuary beneficiaries in allowing Joan’s claim to proceed.

Justice Lofchik’s decision is consistent with prior decisions that have considered s. 61(2), where the Courts have held that the discretion to allow an application to proceed can be exercised at any time as to the assets that are undistributed as of the date of the application.

However, the discretion ultimately rests with the Court. The message to take from this case is that it is generally advisable for potential dependants to consider their present and future needs for support prior to the expiry of the statutory limitation period in order to minimize the additional risk and cost of seeking the leave of the Court.

Thank you for reading,

Umair Abdul Qadir

 

23 Jun

Dependant Support Claims, Limitation Periods and the Vesting of Real Property

Umair Common Law Spouses, Estate & Trust, Executors and Trustees, In the News, Litigation, Support After Death, Trustees Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

We have previously blogged about the limitation period that applies to claims for dependant support under Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act (“SLRA”), and the circumstances in which the Court will exercise its discretion to extend the period.

In the recent decision of MacDonald v Estate of James Pouliot, 2017 ONSC 3629, the Honourable Justice Nightingale considered whether the limitation period could be extended for a dependant’s support claim where the real property owned by the deceased had already vested in a beneficiary, by operation of section 9 of the Estates Administration Act.

Limitation period for dependant support claims

Under subsection 61(1) of the SLRA, no application for  dependant support can be made more than six months after probate has been granted.

However, subsection 61(2) provides the Court with the discretion to allow an application to be made at any time “as to any portion of the estate remaining undistributed at the date of the application.”

As we have previously blogged, the Court has generally interpreted section 61(2) to allow claims that are made more than six months after probate as against the assets that remain undistributed as of the date of the application.  In one recent decision, the Court granted leave even though the assets of the estate had been distributed due to the conduct of the estate trustee.

The issue in Pouliot

In Pouliot, the Applicant (“Mary”) was in a common-law relationship with the Deceased for 22 years. The Deceased died intestate on September 10, 2013.

The primary asset of the Estate was a house (the “Home”) that Mary and the Deceased purchased together in 1999. Although each contributed to half of the cost of the Home, title to the Home was in the name of the Deceased. The Court found that Mary and the Deceased shared the expenses of the Home during their relationship. Following the Deceased’s death, Mary continued to live at the Home and made all of the monthly mortgage payments on the Home.

As the Deceased died intestate, and given that common-law spouses do not inherit on an intestacy, the Deceased’s son was the sole beneficiary of the Deceased’s Estate. The Deceased’s son (the “Estate Trustee”) obtained probate on June 8, 2015. Mary commenced her Application on November 10, 2016, seventeen months after probate was granted.

Mary’s Application sought a declaration that she had an equal interest in the Home by way of a constructive or resulting trust. Mary also sought support as a dependant pursuant to Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act. The Estate Trustee opposed Mary’s Application, arguing that it was statute-barred due to section 61 of the SLRA and section 9 of the Estates Administration Act.

Under section 9(1) of the Estates Administration Act, real property that has not been disposed of, conveyed to, divided or distributed amongst the persons who are beneficially entitled to it within three years after the death of the deceased owner automatically vests in such persons. Mary’s Application was commenced more than three years after the Deceased’s death.

In the circumstances, although Mary was successful in her claim that she held an equal interest in the Home, Justice Nightingale held that “the applicant’s SLRA claim in this proceeding is barred as it relates to the only property of the estate that has already vested in the respondent….”

The Court concluded that there were no assets in the Estate against which an order for support could be made in Mary’s favour.

Thank you for reading,

Umair Abdul Qadir

Other blogs you may enjoy:

21 Mar

Testamentary Wishes Must be Respected

Lisa-Renee Estate & Trust, General Interest, In the News, Wills Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

In a recent case, Ilott v. The Blue Corss & Ors, [2017] UKSC 17 (15 March 2017), the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has affirmed that a testator has testamentary freedom to disinherit his or her child.

As outlined in a recent National Post article, the Court rejected a daughter’s proceeding to set aside her late mother’s will, which left the majority of the mother’s estate to several animal charities.  In the will, the mother also directed the executors of her estate to resist any efforts her daughter may make to challenge the will.

The disappointed daughter exercised her rights pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the “1975 Act”), which allows certain individuals such as spouses and children to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from an estate.

Unlike Part V of Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act, the 1975 Act does not require the deceased testator to have provided his or her dependant with support or to have been under a legal obligation to provide support immediately before his or her death.  Rather, the 1975 Act requires the surviving child to prove that the deceased’s will did not include reasonable financial provision for his or her child in light of the child’s own financial resources and needs.

Interestingly, the daughter appealed the District Judge’s award of £50,000.00 to her and the Court of Appeal’s decision awarding her £143,000.00 to buy the house she lived in and an additional £20,000.00.  On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision and restored the District Judge’s decision on the basis that the District Judge’s decision struck an appropriate balance between the mother’s testamentary wishes and the daughter’s claim for reasonable financial provision from the estate. In doing so, the Supreme Court upheld the long standing principal that people remain at liberty to dispose of their assets and property subject to provisions of the 1975 Act.

Other Articles you May be Interested In:

Testamentary Freedom Reconsidered
Is Discrimination a Restriction on Testamentary Freedom?
Validity of In Terrorem Conditions

Thanks for reading!

Lisa Haseley

06 Feb

Can Divorced Spouses no longer be Dependants?

Stuart Clark Support After Death Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

A recent amendment to the definition of “spouse” within the confines of Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act (the “SLRA“) has likely made it such that divorced spouses may no longer bring an Application for support as a dependant of their deceased ex-spouse’s estate. This is in stark contrast to the previous definition of “spouse” in Part V of the SLRA, which allowed divorced spouses to bring an Application for support.

Section 57 of the SLRA defines a “dependant” as including a “spouse” of the deceased to whom the deceased was providing support, or was under  a legal obligation to provide support, immediately before his or her death. As an ex-spouse of the deceased would not qualify amongst any other class of individuals who may be a “dependant” of the deceased (not being a parent, child, brother or sister), the effect of removing them from the definition of “spouse” is to preclude them from being able to qualify as a “dependant” of the deceased.

The old definition of “spouse” within Part V of the SLRA was as follows:

‘spouse’ means a spouse as defined in subsection 1(1) and in addition includes either of two persons who,
     (a)        were married to each other by a marriage that was terminated or declared a nullity; or
     (b)        are not married to each other and have cohabitated,
          (1) continuously for a period of not less than three years, or
          (2) in a relationship of some permanence, if they are the natural or adoptive parents of a child” [emphasis added]

From the bolded section above, it is clear that divorced spouses previously qualified as a “spouse” of the deceased for the purposes of determining dependants. If the deceased was providing support, or was under a legal obligation to provide support, to their ex-spouse immediately prior to their death, and they did not make adequate provision for them from their estate, the court could make an order providing for their support under section 58(1) of the SLRA. This is likely now no longer the case.

The definition of “spouse” in Part V of the SLRA was recently amended by section 71 of the All Families Are Equal Act, which came into effect on December 5, 2016. The new definition of “spouse” in Part V of the SLRA is as follows:

” ‘spouse’ has the same meaning as in section 29 of the Family Law Act”

Section 29 of the Family Law Act (the “FLA“) defines “spouse” as follows:

” ‘spouse’ means a spouse as defined in subsection 1(1), and in addition includes either of two persons who are not married to each other and have cohabitated
     (a)        continuously for a period of not less than three years, or
     (b)        in a relationship of some permanence, if they are the parents of a child as set out in section 4 of the Children’s Law Reform Act.”

Section 1(1) of the FLA further defines spouse as follows:

” ‘spouse’ means either of two persons who,
     (a)        are married to each other, or
     (b)        have together entered into a marriage that is voidable or void, in good faith on the part of a person relying on this clause to assert any right.”

The definition of “spouse” in section 29 of the FLA, and section 1(1) of the FLA by extension, notably does not include any reference to divorced spouses being included amongst the class of individuals who could be considered “spouses”. As the definition of “spouse” in Part V of the SLRA now mirrors that of section 29 of the FLA, it appears that divorced spouses can no longer qualify as “spouses” under Part V of the SLRA, such that they may no longer qualify as a “dependant” of the deceased. As only a “dependant” may bring an Application for support, the effect of the change is that ex-spouses may likely no longer bring an Application for support under Part V of the SLRA.

While section 34(4) of the FLA contemplates that any previous order providing for the support of an ex-spouse would bind the deceased spouse’s estate unless the order provides otherwise, the inability for ex-spouses to proceed under Part V of the SLRA could have a significant impact in the context of insolvent estates. Under section 72 of the SLRA, assets which pass outside of the estate, including life insurance policies and/or joint-assets which pass by right of survivorship, can be made available to satisfy an order for support. The FLA does not appear to have an equivalent provision, such that any support order may likely only be paid for out of the estate. As a result, to the extent that there are insufficient assets in the estate to satisfy any outstanding support order, or to the extent that such an order has not yet been made, the divorced spouse may be out of luck. While previously the divorced spouse could have brought a claim under Part V of the SLRA, and seek the payment of any support order from assets such as life insurance policies and/or joint-property under section 72 of the SLRA, this option appears to no longer be available to them.

Thank you for reading.

Stuart Clark

Other blog posts you might enjoy:

The All Families are Equal Act is Passed

New Financial Disclosure Requirements Under the Family Law Rules

The Case for Financial Support of Non-Conjugal Caregivers

16 Jan

The Case for Financial Support of Non-Conjugal Caregivers

Ian Hull Beneficiary Designations, Elder Law, Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Executors and Trustees, General Interest, In the News, Trustees, Uncategorized, Wills Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

With the aging population, there are increasing numbers of individuals who may require a caregiver. And that caregiver is not always privately employed, or a direct family member or a spouse.

Currently, the socio-economic situation of such unpaid caregivers has been documented as “financial hardship” due to the void created upon the terminated relationship  A recent article published by Canadian Family Law Quarterly suggests a two-pronged statutory remedy be put in place in order to: (i) provide legal recognition of such relationships, and (ii) compensate sacrifices of the unpaid/altruistic caregiver.

Who Should Compensate Unpaid Caregivers?
An important consideration in the contemplation of providing support to unpaid caregivers is whether the state or the individual accepting care should have the onus of providing financial support. In the case of Egan v Canada, [1995] 2 SCR 513, Justice Sopinka ruled in favour of individual responsibility and stated “the government was not required to be proactive in recognizing new social relationships [and that]… it is not realistic for the court to assume that there are unlimited funds to address the needs of it all.”

On the other hand, Nicholas Bala in an article published in the Queens Law Journal states: “an adult who shares a home and provides care for another economically dependent adult should be entitled to the same level of state assistance (or tax relief) [as paid caregivers] whether the dependent is a spouse, parent, sibling, uncle or friend.”

Estate Planning
Currently, aside from equitable and statutory remedies (not available to all and not certain), the only private law safeguard put in place to protect unpaid caregivers is through wills and estate planning. To protect an unpaid caregiver through a will or estate plan would require forethought by the recipient of the care.  The plan would need to be instituted at a point when the individual had capacity, and was able to properly execute a will or testamentary document.

In the case of unpaid caregiving, the care provider who is a family member may be a beneficiary of an existing estate plan (outside of any caregiving obligations). Entitlement to an enhanced benefit would be a fair way to compensate for unpaid care to the testator.

Dependant’s Relief
Another recourse for an unpaid caregiver is to apply for dependant’s relief pursuant to section 58(1) of the Succession Law Reform Act (“SLRA”).

Section 58(1) provides that:

Where a deceased, whether testate or intestate, has not made adequate provision for the proper support of his dependants or any of them, the court, on application, may order that such provision as it considers adequate be made out of the estate of the deceased for the proper support of the dependants or any of them

In the case of Cummings v Cummings, 2004 CanLII 9339 (ON CA),  the Court of Appeal acknowledged that “caregiving may give rise to both legal and moral obligations to provide support.” Therefore, if an unpaid caregiver can establish themselves as a dependant of the deceased individual who was receiving their care, it is possible they may get some recourse under the SLRA.

It nonetheless bears repeating that the case for law reform relates to the person who does not meet the definition of dependant: the non-direct family member, non-conjugal caregiver who altruistically provides caregiving at significant personal sacrifice and is not named in the Will on the termination (i.e. death) of the caregiving relationship.

Thanks for reading,

Ian M. Hull

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