Tag: Paul Trudelle

21 Sep

Hull on Estates #622 – To Be a Trustee or Not to Be?

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On today’s podcast, Paul Trudelle and Juanita Valencia discuss the issue of when a person receiving funds becomes a trustee, as analyzed in Green Light Solutions Corp. v Baker 2021 BCCA 287.

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03 Sep

When Enough Is Enough: Ending Estate Claims

Hull & Hull LLP Estate & Trust, Litigation Tags: , , , 0 Comments

Sometimes, the court will say that enough is enough. It will put the brakes on frivolous estate litigation. 

One such case is the Court of Queens’ Bench of Alberta decision of Re Klein. There, the deceased died in 2012. She was survived by her three children, who were the beneficiaries of her estate. The estate appears to have consisted of a real property, and some bank accounts.  Notwithstanding the apparent straightforwardness of the estate, it appears that multiple proceedings were commenced as between the beneficiaries and the estate trustee in relation to the estate. 

On August 27, 2021, after various earlier court attendances, Justice Graesser put a stop to the litigation. The matter was before the court as two of the beneficiaries sought further disclosure of banking activity in relation to a $99.25 deposit into the estate account. 

In the decision, Justice Graesser reviewed the history of the estate administration and the evidence of the parties. He concluded that there was no merit in requiring the estate trustee to make any further disclosure. He noted the “proportionality” provisions of the Rules of Court. While the estate trustee may not have accounted perfectly, “Any further work, by [the estate trustee] or by the Courts in receiving or reviewing any further information or submissions, would be completely disproportionate to the magnitude of any possible failings.”

Enough Is Enough

Justice Graesser also noted the court’s readiness to dismiss frivolous claims as an abuse of process. “I subscribe to [ACJ Rooke’s] comments about the need for a cultural shift in civil litigation and to save the Courts and the litigants themselves from frivolous litigation.”

Justice Graesser pointed out that the estate trustee had previously passed her accounts, rendering may of the current complaints by the beneficiaries as res judicata. Further, the passage of time had rendered many of the claims by the estate trustee against the beneficiaries as statute-barred.

While the judge determined that he could not strike claims without hearing from the parties, he was able to continue a stay of proceedings, and not allow any of the parties to take any further steps without leave of the Chief Justice. The parties were, however, permitted to move to dismiss any existing claims. 

Justice Graesser concluded by advising: “I do not encourage the parties to continue their disputes in Court. From my extensive review of the Court filing from its beginning, I am satisfied that the parties have nothing to gain by continuing their fight.”

Thanks for reading.

Paul Trudelle

13 Jul

Hull on Estates #617 – Crossing the Threshold for a Will Challenge

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This week on Hull on Estates, Paul Trudelle and Fred Tonelli discuss the decision and corresponding order in Morrish v Katona ONSC 3805, and review the threshold to challenge a will and compensation due to an examined drafting solicitor and his or her lawyer.

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04 May

Hull on Estates #612 – Independent Adult Children and Varying Wills

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This week on Hull on Estates Paul Trudelle and Sydney Osmar discuss moral claims for relief under BC’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act.

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23 Feb

Hull on Estates #607 – Capacity to Instruct Counsel and the Appointment of a Litigation Guardian

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This week on Hull on Estates, Paul Trudelle and Arielle Di Iulio discuss the test for capacity to instruct counsel and the appointment of litigation guardians in the recent decision of Susan Eng v. Elizabeth Eng2021 ONSC 464.

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08 Dec

Hull on Estates #603 – Updates to the Rules of Civil Procedure

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This week on Hull on Estates, Paul Trudelle and Nick Esterbauer review upcoming changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure as set out in O. Reg. 689/20, effective January 1, 2021.

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21 Jul

Hull on Estates #594 –An Expansion of Pecore in Calmusky v Calmusky

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In today’s podcast, Paul Trudelle and Garrett Horrocks discuss the court’s decision in Calmusky v Calmusky, which deals with the application of principles from Pecore v Pecore to designated assets.

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24 Apr

Zombies and Severed Parts

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate & Trust Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

“This is a case about a ‘zombie’ deed.”

So begins the decision in Thompson v. Elliott Estate, 2020 ONSC 1004, a decision of Justice MacLeod-Beliveau.

The case addresses the effect of “zombie” deeds, and whether such a deed can result in the severance of a joint tenancy.

Justice MacLeod explains that a “zombie” is a folklore reference to a person who is reanimated through magic after their death. A “zombie deed” is a transfer of an interest of land that is registered after the death of the grantor as if the grantor was alive.

In the case in question, Husband and Wife owned a home as joint tenants. Wife signed an Acknowledgement and Direction, transferring her interest in the home to herself, for the purposes of severing the joint tenancy. However, through lawyer inadvertence, the transfer was not registered with the Land Registry Office until after Wife’s death.

If the joint tenancy was severed, Wife’s half-interest in the home would pass through her estate to her children from a prior marriage. If the joint tenancy was not severed, it would pass to Husband.

Husband argued that the registration was improper, and therefore did not sever the joint tenancy.

The court agreed that the registration of the transfer after Wife’s death was improper. The lawyer should not have registered it. In many cases, the registration would be rejected by the Land Registry Office. However, the LRO is often not able to determine whether the registration is improper. In the case before the court, the lawyer registering the transfer had falsified many of the “law statements” required when registering the transfer.

Although the transfer was improperly registered, the court found that the joint tenancy was, however, actually severed. A joint tenancy can be severed by a transfer of a joint interest to oneself. Whether a joint tenancy is severed is a question of fact based on the evidence.

Of note is the holding that it is the “delivery” of the transfer and not the actual registration of the transfer that determines whether the joint tenancy is severed. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to establish that Wife clearly intended to sever the joint tenancy by signing the Acknowledgment and Direction and by giving immediate and unconditional instructions to her lawyer to register the transfer.

Zombie deeds are sometimes used to avoid probate taxes and fees. The deceased signs the Acknowledgment and Direction before death, but, on title, remains owner of the property. After death, the deed is registered to transfer title to intended beneficiaries. This practice is improper.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.

Paul Trudelle

03 Mar

Hull on Estates #590 – Substantial Compliance vs. Strict Compliance

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In today’s podcast, Paul Trudelle and Kira Domratchev discuss the British Columbia Supreme Court’s decision in Hubschi Estate (Re), 2019 BCSC 2040, and the factors considered by the Court in holding that the document found on the deceased’s computer was a Will in accordance with the curative provisions of the relevant legislation.

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08 Oct

Hull on Estates #581 – Minimal Evidentiary Threshold in Will Challenges

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On today’s podcast, Paul Trudelle and Rebecca Rauws discuss the recent decision of Naismith v Clarke, 2019 ONSC 5280, and the minimal evidentiary threshold test for will challenges.

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