Tag: Passing of Accounts

23 Sep

Application to Pass Accounts – Don’t forget about the Estates Act provisions

Stuart Clark Passing of Accounts Tags: , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

You would be forgiven for thinking that the entire process for an Application to Pass Accounts is set out in rule 74.18 of the Rules of Civil Procedure as the rule appears to provide a comprehensive step by step guide to how an Application to Pass Accounts is to proceed before the court. Although rule 74.18 likely contains the most cited to and fundamental steps and principles for how an Application to Pass Accounts is to proceed, you would be wise to remember and consider the applicable provisions of section 49 of the Estates Act as they may offer additional insights and tools for a passing of accounts beyond those found in the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Yesterday I blogged in part about section 49(4) of the Estates Act, and the general availability to convert more complex objections that are raised in the Notice of Objection into a separate triable issue thereby potentially opening up more typical litigation processes such as discovery and the calling of witnesses at the eventual hearing of the matter. Although the ability to direct certain complex objections to a separate trial is an important tool under section 49(4) of the Estates Act, it is not the only potential tool or thing to consider under section 49 of the Estates Act when involved in an Application to Pass Accounts.

These additional tools and considerations for an Application to Pass Accounts as found in section 49 of the Estates Act include section 49(3), which provides the court with the ability to consider any “misconduct, neglect, or default” on the part of the executor or trustee in administering the estate or trust within the Application to Pass Accounts itself, and may make any damages award against the executor or trustee for such misconduct within the Application to Pass Accounts itself without a separate proceeding being required. As a result, if, for example, a beneficiary should raise an allegation of negligence in the Notice of Objection against the executor for something such as a complaint that certain real property that was owned by the estate was sold undervalue, the court under section 49(3) of the Estates Act has the power to consider such an allegation and, if ultimately proven true, may order damages against the executor for any loss to the estate within the Application to Pass Accounts process itself. Without section 49(3) the beneficiary may otherwise have been required to commence a new and separate Action against the executor to advance these claims and/or be awarded damages.

Section 49 also contains answers to numerous procedural questions which may come up in an Application to Pass Accounts which otherwise are not mentioned in the Rules of Civil Procedure, including section 49(9) which provides what the executor is to do when an individual has died intestate and you are unable to locate any next of kin to serve, and section 49(10) which provides the court with the ability to appoint an expert to review and opine on the accounts on behalf of the court when the accounts are particularly complex.

Thank you for reading.

Stuart Clark

22 Sep

Application to Pass Accounts – How do you deal with complex issues and claims?

Stuart Clark Passing of Accounts Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

The Application to Pass Accounts serves an important function in the administration of estates and trusts, providing the beneficiaries with the ability to audit the administration of the estate or trust and raise any concerns through their Notice of Objection.

The procedure that is followed for the Application to Pass Accounts is somewhat distinct from any other court process, with the process being governed by rule 74.18 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. These procedural steps include the filing of the “Notice of Objection” and the “Reply” to the Notice of Objection, processes and documents which are distinct to the Application to Pass Accounts. Although the Application to Pass Accounts process differs in certain ways from a more traditional Application, at its core the Application to Pass Accounts is still an “Application” and not an “Action”, with the process designed to be more summary in process as compared to the typical Action.

I have previously blogged about the procedural differences between an “Application” and an “Action”, and how things like Discovery and Affidavits of Documents, as well as calling witnesses to give oral evidence, are generally not available in an Application. The same generally holds true for an Application to Pass Accounts, with there generally being no Discovery process or witnesses called at the eventual hearing for the passing of accounts, with the summary process designed to be adjudicated on the paper record of the documents contemplated under rule 74.18.

Although the simplified and summary process intended for the Application to Pass Accounts may present many benefits to the parties, including allowing the beneficiaries to pose questions and objections to the trustee without having to resort to potentially prolonged and expensive litigation as provided in a typical Action, it could present some challenges if the claims that are being advanced are complex or seek significant damages as the process may not allow for the full record to be adequately explored.

If the claims or issues which are being advanced in an Application to Pass Accounts are complex, such as for example claims that the trustee was negligent or committed a breach of trust, the summary process designed for the typical Application to Pass Accounts may not provide the depth of procedural process that the claims may deserve. Under such circumstances the parties may seek to direct and/or convert the complex objections into a separate triable issue, thereby potentially opening up the procedural processes more typically reserved for an “Action” such as Discovery or the calling of witnesses to the issue.

The process by which certain objections are directed and/or converted into a separate “triable issue” is governed by section 49(4) of the Estates Act, which provides:

The judge may order the trial of an issue of any complaint or claim under subsection (3), and in such case the judge shall make all necessary directions as to pleadings, production of documents, discovery and otherwise in connection with the issue.”

Under section 49(4) of the Estates Act the court may direct any objection which fits under section 48(3) of the Estates Act, which includes allegations of breach of trust, to be separately tried before the court, with section 49(4) noting that the judge shall make necessary directions regarding pleadings, Discovery, and the production of documents for the objection.

If an individual wishes to direct an objection to be tried under section 49(4) of the Estates Act such an intention should be raised at the early stages of the Application to Pass Accounts, with an Order being sought which would specifically direct the objection(s) in question to be tried by way of Action. To the extent that such an Order cannot be obtained on consent a Motion may be brought regarding the issue, with the court also being asked to provide direction regarding the procedures to be followed for the triable issue.

Thank you for reading.

Stuart Clark

04 Aug

When does an Attorney Accounting Period Start?

Rebecca Rauws Passing of Accounts Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Sometimes there is a grey area when it comes to a person’s loss of capacity, and the time when his or her attorney for property first began to act on an incapable’s behalf. In such a situation, it can be difficult to determine the starting date for an attorney’s fiduciary accounting period.

The recent decision of The Public Guardian and Trustee v Willis at al, 2020 ONSC 3660, dealt with this kind of situation. One of the issues was whether the respondent should be required to pass his accounts for the period before he became the attorney for property for his mother, Mrs. Willis.

The respondent was his mother’s only living child, and was acting as her attorney pursuant to a power of attorney for property dated May 2, 2018. Mrs. Willis was assessed as incapable of managing her property in September 2018, but the decision notes that she had been “clearly suffering from some cognitive deficits prior to June 2018”.

The Public Guardian and Trustee (the “PGT”) sought to have the respondent provide an accounting back to January 1, 2015, because the respondent had arranged several mortgages on his mother’s behalf in that period. The respondent, however, only agreed to pass his accounts starting from May 2, 2018 when he became his mother’s attorney for property. One of the main reasons that the respondent did not want to pass his accounts prior to that period was due to the expense, because it was clear that Mrs. Willis was insolvent, and the respondent would likely have to personally bear the costs of passing his accounts. The PGT clarified during the hearing that it was not seeking court format accounts for the period from 2015-2018, but only “justifiable explanations of money coming in and out of his mother’s RBC account and how mortgage advances were spent plus all relevant disclosure.”

The court found that the respondent had assisted his mother with paying bills and arranging mortgages prior to the time that she was assessed as incapable. It was also noted in the decision that there was “no doubt” that even while Mrs. Willis was capable, she was unsophisticated, vulnerable, and relied on the respondent. The respondent also had access to his mother’s bank account before January 1, 2015.

The court held that, even if an individual is not specifically appointed in a fiduciary role (such as an attorney) one must look at the types of duties that the individual was carrying out to determine if they were acting in a fiduciary capacity. On this basis, the court found that the respondent had been acting as a fiduciary for Mrs. Willis for some time, and determined that he should provide detailed explanations of financial transactions upon the PGT’s request from January 1, 2015 to May 1, 2018 (in addition to the passing of accounts to which the respondent had consented starting from May 2, 2018).

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

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09 Jun

Hull on Estates #591 – Accounting obligations and Passing of Accounts during the COVID-19 pandemic

76admin Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Hull on Estates, Hull on Estates, Podcasts, Show Notes, Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

This week on Hull on Estates, Noah Weisberg and Nick Esterbauer discuss continued accounting obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic and procedural considerations relating to fresh and pre-existing applications to pass accounts.

Should you have any questions, please email us at webmaster@hullandhull.com or leave a comment on our blog.

Click here for more information on Noah Weisberg.

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26 Aug

Judicial discretion to order passings of accounts

Nick Esterbauer Capacity, Estate & Trust, Passing of Accounts Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

We often encounter situations where the administration of an estate is complicated by the fact that the deceased was married multiple times, and there is a clash between children from a prior relationship and a subsequent spouse (and/or his or her children).  Sometimes, a couple will be closer with one set of children, which may lead to disputes following both of their deaths.  Estate of Ronald Alfred Craymer v Hayward et al, 2019 ONSC 4600, was one such case, in which Joan and Ronald had been closer for much of their 32-year marriage with Joan’s children from a prior marriage.  After Joan and Ronald died in 2016 and 2017, respectively, a dispute arose between their adult children.

While Ronald’s will named his own children as beneficiaries of his estate, his Continuing Power of Attorney or Property (like Joan’s), named Joan’s daughter as alternate attorney for property, should his spouse be unable to act.   Joan had acted as Ronald’s attorney for property from 2006, during which he had suffered a stroke, until her death.  In 2011, Joan had transferred the couple’s matrimonial home, previously held jointly, to herself alone.  During this period, however, there had been no request by Ronald’s children for an accounting.  Joan’s daughter had subsequently acted as Ronald’s attorney for property and as estate trustee for Joan’s estate over the period of approximately eight months between the deaths of Joan and Ronald.

Ronald’s children sought a passing of accounts with respect to the management of their father’s property by Jane and her daughter and, specifically, challenged the change in title to the matrimonial home.  The Court referred to Wall v Shaw, 2018 ONCA 929, in stating that there is no limitation period to compel an accounting.  Accordingly, it considered the only bar to this relief to be laches and acquiescence.  Justice C.F. de Sa commented that the there was nothing improper in the manner in which the plaintiff had sought the accounting and, furthermore, that the delay was not unreasonable in the circumstances.  The Court permitted the claim regarding the matrimonial home to continue, but nevertheless declined to order a passing of  accounts:

…[O]rdering the passing of accounts is discretionary. And in my view, to require an accounting at this point would result in a clear injustice as between the parties.

[Joan’s daughter,] Linda, as Estate Trustee, is hardly in a position to account for Joan’s spending while she was alive. Yet, to require a passing of accounts at this point would subject every line of Joan’s spending (as Attorney for Property) to the court’s scrutiny.  Moreover, as the Estate Trustee, the Defendant would be liable to account for any unexplained expenditures.

Indeed, it is unclear that the spending was spurious given the nature of the relationship between Joan and Ronald. Joan would have been spending the money as his wife as much as his Attorney for Property.  The failure to keep detailed accounts is hardly suspicious given the circumstances here.

…In the circumstances, I will not order a passing of accounts.

This decision is interesting in that it clearly considers the practicality of a passing of accounts and the inability of the deceased attorney’s estate trustee to properly account in the absence of relevant records in determining that it would be unjust to order a passing of accounts, despite there being no other apparent legal reason not to do so.

Thank you for reading.

Nick Esterbauer

 

Other blog entries that may be of interest:

04 Jul

Watch what you do, you may be held accountable

Christina Canestraro Estate Litigation, Ethical Issues, Litigation, Passing of Accounts Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

Noah Weisberg’s recent blog on the Court of Appeal decision in Dzelme v Dzelme, serves as a great reminder that ordering a passing of accounts remains in the discretion of the court.

Building on this idea of judicial discretion is the recent case of Dobis v Dobis recently heard and decided by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, whereby the court ordered a passing of accounts by a party who was deemed to have misappropriated funds from an estate asset.

Elizabeth commenced an application in her role as the estate trustee of her late husband’s estate. She sought, among other things, certain orders that would allow her to gain and maintain possession and control over one of the estate assets, a four unit rental property. She also sought an order requiring her son, Mark, to pass his accounts in respect of funds she alleged were misappropriated from the rental property.

Mark resided in one of the units of the rental property with his spouse, and alleged that it was his father’s intention that he maintain a life interest in the property. During the lifetime of the deceased, Mark acted as a manager/superintendent of the rental property in exchange for reduced rent. He also collected rent from one of the tenants and deposited the funds into a bank account owned jointly by his parents. Following his father’s death, Mark began diverting rent from the rental property to himself rather than depositing it in the joint account.

Despite requests from Elizabeth, Mark failed to properly account for the rental income. The accounting that was provided to Elizabeth was not supported by vouchers, and contained no detail of the expenses incurred. Elizabeth submitted that Mark had no legal or beneficial interest in the property, that he was holding the property hostage while unlawfully benefiting personally from the funds generated by the property, and that he failed to account for those funds.

In arriving at its decision, the court relied on the 2016 Ontario Superior Court decision in Net Connect Installations Inc. v. Mobile Zone Inc., which held that a court has jurisdiction to order an accounting where a party is deemed to have misappropriated funds.

Ultimately, Mark was compelled to pass his accounts for all monies received by him in connection with his management of the property. All this to say, watch what you do, because you may be held accountable.

Thank you for reading!

Christina Canestraro

02 Jul

Attorney for Personal Care Denied Request for Accounting

Noah Weisberg Guardianship, Passing of Accounts, Power of Attorney Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

The recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Dzelme v Dzelme acts as a helpful reminder that even if an attorney has standing to seek a passing of accounts, the Court may still refuse to grant the passing.

John was named as the attorney for personal care for his father, Ritvers, and sought an accounting of Ritver’s financial affairs from his brother Arnis (Ritvers’ other son) who was the attorney for property.  Both John and Arnis agreed that John, given that he was an attorney for personal care, could apply under section 42(4)(1) of the Substitute Decisions Act for a passing of accounts without leave.  Nonetheless, the Court of Appeal identified that even if a person has standing to apply for an accounting, it remains the discretion of the Court to order a passing of accounts.

In deciding whether to order the passing, the superior court judge made the following findings of fact: (i) both the father and mother were capable when they executed written instructions to Arnis not to produce any financial information about his affairs to John; (ii) the mother maintained this position in response to John’s motion; (iii) a capacity assessment found that the mother was capable of making her own decisions; (iv) a third brother corroborated Arnis’ evidence that he was abiding by his parent’s wishes; (v) the application judge did not doubt that Arnis was following his mother’s wishes; and, (vi) there was no reason to suspect that Arnis was acting improperly with respect to certain transactions.

On this basis, the Court of Appeal upheld the application judge’s dismissal of John’s request for an order that Arnis pass his accounts of Ritver’s property.

Noah Weisberg

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10 May

A “Good News” Story on Compensation

Paul Emile Trudelle Elder Law, Estate & Trust, Estate Litigation, Estate Planning, Passing of Accounts, Trustees, Uncategorized, Wills Tags: , , , 0 Comments

In Daniel Estate (Re), 2019 ONSC 2790 (CanLII), the applicants applied to have their estate trustee and attorneyship accounts passed. As stated by the judge hearing the application, “Unlike many applications to pass accounts, this is a “good news” story.”

The applicants were the friends and former neighbours of a high net worth, elderly couple, Isabel and Wayne. For over 20 years, the applicants provided extensive personal assistance to the elderly couple. “In many ways, [the applicants] acted like loyal and dutiful family members.” In addition to completing simple neighbourly tasks, the applicants helped the couple in many other ways. They eventually became the attorneys for property and personal care for the couple. When Wayne died, the applicants took on the role of acting as his Estate Trustee.

The application to pass accounts was supported by an affidavit from Isabel, who indicated that she was content with the claim for compensation being made by the applicants. The application materials also included an accounting analysis prepared by a Chartered Accountant, who reviewed the accounts in detail, and also an analysis by a Certified Case Manager  and Certified Canadian Life Care Planner, who assessed the value of the personal services provided by the applicants.

In the end, the court awarded the applicants compensation for administering Wayne’s estate of $129,775; compensation for acting as attorneys for property of $435,772.36 and compensation for acting as attorneys for personal care, for a total of $757,659.

With respect to costs, the court awarded the applicants their costs of $125,021 for the unopposed passing of accounts. According the judge, “While this amount seems at first blush high, I note the accounting report alone was worth $45,000. In my view of the detailed, thorough and helpful material filed and in view of the hours it took to assemble, digest and present the financial information provided, I find that the fees and disbursements claimed are reasonable.”

The court appears to have been impressed by the extent and quality of the assistance provided by the applicants to Isabel and Wayne. Further, the court appears to have been impressed with the detailed and extensive materials put before the court in order to justify the claims on the passing.

Thanks for reading.

Paul Trudelle

02 Apr

The Ups and Downs of Estate Trustee Compensation

Noah Weisberg Executors and Trustees, Passing of Accounts, Trustees Tags: , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

When is it appropriate for a court to reduce estate trustee compensation?  The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia addressed this issue in Atlantic Jewish Foundation v Leventhal Estate (“AJF”).

Before getting into the AJF decision, it is worthwhile to include the caveat that determination of estate trustee compensation in Ontario (a summary of which can be found in my paper here) differs somewhat as compared to Nova Scotia.  Nonetheless, both provinces use 5% of the value of the estate, subject to the discretion of the court, as the starting point in determining the quantum of compensation.  As such, AJF remains informative in Ontario.

The deceased left a Will naming his friend, who was also a lawyer, as his Estate Trustee.  AJF was named as the residuary beneficiary.  The Will was silent as to estate trustee compensation.  As the estate was valued at over $15 million, the Estate Trustee sought compensation in the approximate amount of $896,000, being 5% of the gross adjusted value of the estate.  AJF maintained that the amount was excessive and proposed compensation in the amount of $300,000.

In determining how much compensation the Estate Trustee should be entitled to, and applying an approach similar to Ontario’s ‘five factors’, the court made the following observations: the level of responsibility is often greater for higher value estates; the increasing level of responsibility does not necessarily rise in direct proportion to the size of the estate; the Estate Trustee arranged and supervised the funeral and burial, which was mainly handled by telephone; the Estate Trustee acted promptly in selling the house; many of the assets were already in the form of cash, and the Estate Trustee knew the banks the deceased used; the Estate Trustee was diligent, wise and prudent and had to be a hands-on executor; the Estate Trustee made no mistakes; a large part of the estate was made up of investments that were readily converted into cash for distribution; and, the estate was larger rather than complex.

The court noted that 5% should be reserved for estates where there are complicating features that require more than wise and careful planning to maximize the value of the estate.  Therefore, the court awarded compensation in the amount of $450,000, being slightly more than 50% of the maximum amount that could be awarded.  A larger amount of compensation would have the effect of reading into the Will a bequest to the Estate Trustee that the deceased did not intend to make.

Noah Weisberg

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22 Nov

The Limits of Limitation Periods: Passings of Accounts in Wall v Shaw

Garrett Horrocks Executors and Trustees, Litigation, Passing of Accounts, Power of Attorney, Trustees Tags: , , , 0 Comments

Applications to pass accounts are unique as civil proceedings go.  The nature of the inquiries being made by the Court, the relief that a judge is empowered to grant, and the procedural considerations that apply are all features that distinguish applications to pass accounts from other civil applications.  Procedural considerations in particular have garnered some notoriety recently as a result of several notable decisions released in the past few years.  The recent decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario (then sitting as the Divisional Court) in Wall v Shaw, 2018 ONCA 929, provides some clarity to a few of the loose ends.

In Wall, the Deceased died leaving a Will naming the appellant as estate trustee and which created two testamentary trusts for the benefit of her two children.  The Deceased’s nieces and nephews were also named as contingent beneficiaries in the event that both children died before vesting in the trust property.

The estate trustee acted for more than 10 years, but never formally passed his accounts.  Instead, the estate trustee held frequent informal meetings with the Deceased’s children to review the administration of the estate and to discuss the estate trustee’s compensation.

A dispute between the Deceased’s daughter and the estate trustee relating to the latter’s compensation eventually led the daughter to bring an application seeking an order compelling the estate trustee to pass his accounts.

The estate trustee subsequently commenced an application to pass accounts in March 2015.  In June 2015, the Deceased’s daughter filed a notice of objection to the accounts, followed in January 2016 by a notice of objection delivered by two of the Deceased’s nieces.

In response, the estate trustee brought a motion seeking to strike out the objections of the daughter on several grounds.  Notably, the estate trustee took the position that the daughter’s approval of the accounts at the informal meetings constituted acquiescence of the estate trustee’s conduct.  In the alternative, the estate trustee argued that the daughter’s objections were now statute-barred pursuant to sections 4 and 5 of Ontario’s Limitations Act or barred by the doctrine of laches.

The estate trustee was unsuccessful at first instance on all three grounds, but only chose to appeal the first ground.  Specifically, the estate trustee argued on appeal that the judge at first instance had erred in refusing to apply the two-year limitation period under section 4 of the Limitations Act.  The appeal was dismissed, and the reasons on appeal provide some procedural clarity in respect of the interplay between limitation periods and passings of accounts.

Section 4 of the Limitations Act generally provides that a “proceeding” cannot be commenced in respect of a “claim” if more than two years have elapsed since the date the claim was discovered.  The Court of Appeal took issue with each of the quoted terms.

Notably, the held that a notice of objection does not commence a “proceeding” for the purposes of section 4 of the Limitations Act.  Rather, a notice of objection ought to be viewed as a response to a proceeding that has already been commenced, being the application to pass accounts.  The Court also pointed to its prior ruling in Armitage v The Salvation Army, in which it was held that an application to pass accounts was not a “claim” pursuant to section 4 of the Limitations Act.  Accordingly, it followed that a responding objection raised in that application could also not constitute a claim.

Finally, the Court highlighted an important distinction between applications to pass accounts and other civil applications.  Unlike a traditional civil claim, the Court in an application to pass accounts is not tasked with awarding judgment in favour of one party or the other.  The purpose of an application to pass accounts to is initiate a “judicial inquiry” into the management of an estate and, if appropriate, provide redress to the estate, rather than to the beneficiaries personally.

Thanks for reading.

Garrett Horrocks

Please feel free to check our other blogs on related topics:

When Does an Attorney for Property Lose the Right to Claim Compensation?

Who Can Compel a Passing of Accounts From an Attorney for Property?

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