This week on Hull on Estates, Ian Hull and Doreen So discuss the reasons for judgment in Birtzu v. McCron, 2017 ONSC, 1420, and the finding that the Plaintiffs were statute barred in this will challenge.
I recently read an Ontario decision involving a will challenge and the court granted summary judgment to the estate trustee on the issue that the Testator had the requisite testamentary capacity to execute her Last Will and Testament.
In Quinlan v. Caron, the Deceased executed her Last Will and Testament on May 18, 2007 (the “Will”) and she subsequently died on September 7, 2008. Two days before executing the Will, the Deceased underwent a capacity assessment that was recorded on video. The doctor who conducted the capacity assessment concluded that the Deceased had the requisite capacity to create a new Will.
The daughter of the Deceased commenced a Will Challenge alleging that the Deceased lacked the mental capacity to execute the Will and undue influence. The Estate Trustee is the son of the Deceased and brought a motion for summary judgment against his sister, arguing that there were no genuine issues requiring a trial as his sister’s claim was not supported by any evidence.
The Honourable Justice Tuck put a lot of weight on the capacity assessment and granted summary judgment to the Estate Trustee on the issue of the Deceased’s capacity; however Justice Tuck dismissed the Estate Trustee’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of undue influence. In the decision, Justice Tuck held that “matters of credibility requiring resolution on a case of conflicting evidence ought to go to trial” and he rationalized that there was conflicting evidence in this case, which could suggest that the Deceased was unduly influenced.
Thank you for reading and have a great weekend,
Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.
In the recent case of Re Estate of Assunta Marino, 2010 ONSC 5237 (CanLII), the court granted an order to set aside an unopposed judgment passing accounts obtained by the estate trustee, on a Rule 38.11(1) motion brought by a beneficiary who had failed to file a notice of objection to accounts within the prescribed time. Justice Brown, presiding, applied the test in HSBC Securities (Canada) Inc. v. Firestar Capital Management Corp., 2008 ONCA 894 (CanLII), 2008 ONCA 894, which has three elements:
(i) whether the motion was brought without delay after the defendant (i.e., the moving beneficiary) learned of the default judgment;
(ii) whether the circumstances giving rise to the default were adequately explained; and
(iii) whether the defendant has an arguable defence on the merits – in order to determine whether the interests of justice favour granting the order. To that end, the court should consider the potential prejudice to the moving party if the motion were dismissed, the potential prejudice to the respondent if the motion were allowed, and the effect of any order on the overall integrity of the administration of justice.
The first element was met: time elapsing between the beneficiary learning of the default judgment and the motion was the result of attempted negotiations rather than inactivity, so it was not "delay". The second element was met by the beneficiary’s lawyer filing an affidavit explaining the default. With respect to the the third element, the beneficiary had raised valid arguable objections, which is analogous to a defence. The prejudice resulting from a delay in the estate’s distribution combined with the fact that the estate trustee had properly engaged the court’s legal process to account for his administration was not enough to save the unopposed judgment. Justice Brown wrote that while the case was close, "significant weight should be given to the need to ensure that fiduciaries fully account for their management of property", and so the order setting aside the default judgment was granted. Mediation was ordered before further steps in the passing of accounts, and the beneficiary was ordered to pay all of the mediator’s costs.
Enjoy your day,
Chris M. Graham – Click here for more information on Chris Graham.
Listen to Accounting Under the Powers of Attorney
This week on Hull on Estates, Diane and Paul discuss accounting under the powers or attorney, the duty to account after the guarantor has passed away and the De Zorzi Estate v. Read case (2008, O.J. No. 944).
Mr. Justice Brown presented a paper at the recent OBA CLE Seminar Emerging Trends in Estates and Trusts: What Does the Future Hold? Mr. Justice Brown’s paper was adeptly titled One Judge’s “Wish List”: Best Practices on the Estates List. Mr. Justice Brown sits in Toronto and is a member of the Estates List. In one section of his paper, Mr. Justice Brown wrote as follows under the heading “Who is your audience?”
“In Toronto the Superior Court of Justice operates an Estates List. Each week one judge is assigned to sit exclusively on the Estates List and another judge is available for the last three days of the week if the need arises. Estates List judges are drawn from one of the two Toronto civil teams or, occasionally, from the civil long trials team. Usually newly appointed judges are assigned to a civil team for their first year on the bench. As a result the judges who hear matters on the Estates List more likely than not will come from a civil or commercial litigation background, but will not necessarily possess specialist training in estates or trusts.
listen to The Ontario Civil Justice Reform Project
This week on Hull on Estates, Chris and Justin discuss the Ontario Civil Justice Reform Project and the steps being taken by Mr. Justice Colter Osbourne and Attorney General Michael Bryant.
Today’s blog is the third in a three part series dealing with the availability of Rule 60.11 contempt orders to enforce the payment of money and more specifically, the case of Dickie v. Dickie, in which the Ontario Court of Appeal (C.A.) and Supreme Court of Canada (“S.C.C.”) considered this issue.
Part I (July 31, 2007) noted several C.A. cases on the issue and provided background to the Dickie case. Yesterday’s blog dealt with the C.A.’s decision in Dickie. As promised, today’s blog deals with the S.C.C.’s disposition of the case.