Listen to The Business of Being an Estate Trustee.
This week on Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Ian and Suzana discuss the business side of being an Estate Trustee and talk about what to do with assets.
BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY BY THE WILL MAKER – EXECUTOR AND TRUSTEE’S ROLE – EVIDENTARY ISSUES – WHAT TO DO ABOUT ABUSE CLAIMS? – PART V
In almost every case, the majority of the evidence will come from the allegedly abused child and, as such, the strength of that evidence can be problematic. In these types of situations, one must not forget the requirement of corroborative evidence pursuant to section 13 of the Estates Act R.S.O. 1990, c. E.23, which provides that:
13. In an action by or against the heirs, next-of-kin, executors, administrators or assigns of a deceased person, an opposite or interested party shall not obtain a verdict, judgment or decision on his or her own evidence in respect of any matter occurring before the death of the deceased person, unless such evidence is corroborated by some other material evidence.
See also Schnurr B.A., "Estate Litigation – Requirement of Corroboration", 5 E.T.Q. 42.
Due to the evidentiary difficulties of these types of claims, one of the first steps that a claimant should consider taking is to obtain an expert’s opinion.
The expert’s opinion should contain evidence for the Court to consider with respect to such things as the recollections of the claimant, the details of abuse over the years and the results of both the mental and physical ramifications of that abuse.
BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY BY THE WILL MAKER – EXECUTOR AND TRUSTEE’S ROLE – WHAT TO DO ABOUT ABUSE CLAIMS? – PART III
As is sometimes the case, an unequal distribution of an estate as between children can arise from a testator who has had a long history of mental illness, chronic alcoholism or other such personal reasons, which may affect the testator’s state of mind over a period of many years.
For example, if a child who has been treated unequally grew up in a home where he or she suffered through instances of physical violence, as between the parents and him or herself, this may be the type of fact situation to consider when looking to pursue a claim for breach of fiduciary duty of parental obligations. Similarly, if the unequally treated child lived in a home that was constantly in turmoil, as a result of a chronically alcoholic parent, this situation should also be considered in the context of the fiduciary obligations of a parent.
In our view, one must find several compelling supporting facts to bolster any claim of breach of fiduciary duty or breach of parental obligation. Such facts should also be combined with a clear and identifiable estrangement as between parent and child.
In the decision of M. (K.) v. M. (H), the Supreme Court of Canada considered the whole concept of what is meant by the term "parental obligation".
The Court considered this issue in the context of a particularly gruesome and egregious set of facts.
In M.(K.) v. M.(H.), the Supreme Court of Canada examined the parent-child relationship in the circumstances of long-standing allegations of incest and abuse by a parent to a child.