Tag: estate dispute
America’s Top Forty show was hosted for decades by Casey Kasem and was one of the top radio shows in the world. Casey was born Kemal Amin Kasem in Detroit on April 27, 1932 to Lebanese immigrant parents who worked as grocers. He succeeded on radio and also did other work like voice roles in cartoons like “Shaggy” on Scooby-Doo. When he died on June 15, 2014 at age 82 his estate was reported to be valued at over $ 80 million USD.
After his death, three children from his first marriage were involved in what can only be described as a very sad dispute with his second wife that went on for over 5 years. The dispute was recently reported to have been settled in December 2019. This, in my view, is another example of what goes wrong when proper estate planning is not considered by parents/spouses/children. The ensuing consequences are often unfortunate and can be played out, in large part, in the courts. There is too much to the Casey Kasem story for this blog but, the story involves his dementia from Lewy Body Disease, one of the most common progressive dementia’s after Alzheimer’s. It involves his disappearance and a Los Angeles court declaring him a missing person on May 12, 2014. It involves his not being buried for six months after he died and then being buried in Oslo Norway for some reason on December 16, 2014. For more on this story I suggest the article by Amy Wallace entitled “The Long, Strange Purgatory of Casey Kasem”.
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As lawyers, whether we are dealing with opposing parties, clients, or colleagues, we are often faced with having to say no at some point. Viewed as a negative response, the effect of saying no often leads to damaged or strained relationships.
Below is a brief overview of the rules that Mr. Latz espouses:
Rule #1 – Information is Key – at the outset it is important to determine your goals and then develop an information bargaining strategy. Ways to get and share information should be considered. Obtaining information is key before providing any response.
Rule #2 – Understand the Meaning of No – before saying no, Mr. Latz suggests that you consider the best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Referred to as ‘BATNA’, this is widely used in negotiation theory to think about what your plan B is. Mr. Latz further suggests that, at this time, steps should be taken to strengthen this plan.
Rule #3 – Explain your No with Fair Objective Criteria – if you are going to say no, explain why. This should be based on fair and objective criteria such as market-value, precedent, professional standards, or tradition.
Rule #4 – Combine your No with a ‘Yesable’ Offer – Mr. Latz suggest that you design an offer-concession strategy. Considerations should be had to the timing of making such an offer.
Rule #5 – Control the Setting – if you are going to say no, consider the importance of the setting on the relationship. For instance, there may be value in having a face to face discussion as opposed to over the telephone.
Of course, this is just an overview of the issues Mr. Latz discussed. I encourage you to visit Mr. Latz’s website at www.negotiationinstitute.com for more information.
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Sibling rivalry coupled with the loss of a parent and an actual or perceived impropriety of one sibling in handling his or her estate can turn even the closest siblings into sparring adversaries.
While such emotionally charged disputes often become heated, most siblings are able to maintain civility in their dealings.
What happens when one sibling takes it too far? Can the courts step in to reel that sibling in?
According to a recent ruling of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Nova Scotia (Public Safety) v. Lee, 2015 NSSC 71, they may have expanded powers to prevent or restrict behavior that amounts to Cyberbullying.
The facts of this case involve a particularly heated dispute which arose between a brother (“Mr. Lee”) and sister (“Ms. Murray”) in relation to their late mother’s estate. Prior to her death, their mother had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Ms. Murray and her family moved in with their mother and cared for her throughout her illness. Several months prior to her death, their mother attended upon a solicitor and executed a new will which left her entire estate to Ms. Murray upon her death. Upon learning that their mother had left everything to his sister, Mr. Lee began what the court referred to as a “progression of online abuse” against Ms. Murray by way of text messages, email and public Facebook posts.
The aggressive text messages began when Ms. Murray refused to vacate the mother’s home, and included messages such as:
“[y]ou are dead to me get your lying manipulative abusive [a—] out of that [f—g] house or I will send the RCMP.”
Mr. Lee also sent emails threatening to inform her employer of her alleged misdeeds with respect to their mother’s estate and began posting a series of public messages to his Facebook wall including:
“Does anybody out there in Facebook land think it is ok for the caregiver of a 67 year old lady dying of brain tumours & loaded up with narcotics, take that 67 year old lady into the lawyers office days (literally days) before the lady dies of those same brain tumours and have the lady sign everything she owns (and some stuff she didn’t own) over to the caregiver???? Because that is exactly what my sister did And [sic], any of you cowards in my family that read this and then go “tsk tsk” behind my back and leave my Mother dead and undefended should be as ashamed of yourselves as Veronica should be.”
Ms. Murry filed a complaint with CyberSCAN who asked Mr. Lee to remove the offensive comments and formally apologize to Ms. Murray. Mr. Lee responded with the following Facebook post:
“I said my sister was a lying, manipulative fraudulent thief….. The Cyberscan people said I really should apologize, so here goes, and it is heartfelt and sincere. I am truly deeply and sincerely sorry that my sister is a lying, manipulative, fraudulent thief.”
In response, the Nova Scotian Director of Public Safety applied for a Cyberbullying Prevention Order against Mr. Lee pursuant to s. 26D(1) of the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, S.N.S. 2006, c. 6.
Upon hearing the case, the Court granted the Cyber Prevention Order and ordered that Mr. Lee delete all the online comments made to or about his sister and that he refrain from such conduct going forward.
Canadian laws are evolving to protect against all forms of Cyberbullying. In 2013, Nova Scotia introduced the Cyber-Safety Act, S.N.S. 2013, c.2, which defines Cyberbullying broadly and provides wide ranging powers to the Director of Public Safety under the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, S.N.S. 2006, c. 6 to provide recourse for behavior such as Mr. Lee’s.
While, Nova Scotia is the first province to enact such sweeping legislation, the other provinces are starting to take note of the important role such legislation can play. As such, while no equivalent law currently exists in Ontario, it could soon land on Ontario’s legislative agenda.
A useful Fact Sheet outlining the Cyberbullying legislation that currently exists across Canada can be found here.
Thank you for reading,