The Costs of Litigation and the Loser Pays Principle

by: , April 14, 2020

When new clients embarks on litigation (to challenge a will or to remove an executor, for example), one of the first questions I am asked is whether they can recover their legal fees or costs from the estate or trust (as we all know, litigation can be expensive). The expectation is that the estate or…read more

The Revival of Unconscionable Procurement

by: , April 8, 2020

The administrations of some estates simply do not move forward smoothly. The Elias Gefen estate is one such estate. In Gefen v. Gaertner, 2019 ONSC 6015, Justice Kimmel addressed multiple issues which had stopped the administration from moving forward, ranging from mutual wills to secret trust agreements. Justice Kimmel also applied, for the first time…read more

Clash of the Limitation Periods

by: , February 21, 2020

The Limitations Act, 2002, SO 2002, c 24, Sch B, brought order and clarity to limitation periods in Ontario. However, the Limitations Act did not displace all existing limitation periods established by statute. Several carve-outs which are particularly relevant to estates litigators includes the Real Property Limitations Act, RSO 1990, c L.15 and s. 38(3)…read more

Minimum Evidentiary Threshold for Will Challenges

by: , November 19, 2019

What is the minimum level of evidence to be met before a court allows a will challenge to proceed? The recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in Naismith v. Clarke, 2019 ONSC 5280 (“Naismith”) sets out a useful overview for the circumstances under which a court may allow a will challenge to move forward….read more

40oz. to Testamentary Freedom

by: , July 13, 2018

Is the fact that one is a chronic alcoholic enough to deprive them of their testamentary freedom? In Dujardin v. Dujardin, 2018 ONCA 597, the Court of Appeal for Ontario explored this issue when it was tasked with determining the validity of two wills that were executed by a known drunkard. Background Jacques Henry Dujardin…read more

A Touch of Modernity

by: , May 11, 2018

In its costs decision for Campbell v. Evert (previously blogged about here), the Ontario Superior Court of Justice further distilled the rationale and policy reasons informing the “modern approach” to fixing costs in estate litigation. Background As frequent readers of this blog may recall, Dr. Ewert (the “Deceased”) passed away in 2011. She left behind…read more

I Hate to be a Suspicious Aloysius on You – but Did the Deceased Have Testamentary Capacity?

by: , January 26, 2018

A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision (Stekar v. Wilcox[1]) reinforces what is required to prove well-established grounds for challenging a will: suspicious circumstance and testamentary capacity. Background Jerald P. McNamara (the “Deceased”) died on June 18, 2012. His friend of over 40 years, Thomas, stood to inherit his entire estate under the terms of…read more

When is a Handwritten Will Valid?

by: , December 17, 2015

Linda was cleaning up her deceased sister-in-law Cynthia’s new apartment when she discovered a document inside a Sobeys bag. It was in the deceased’s handwriting and discussed distributing her property upon her death. It named Linda as executrix. As Linda continued to clean Cynthia’s residence she found another such handwritten document (this time, tucked away on…read more

Ontario Has Jurisdiction Over Invalid Italian Will

by: , March 11, 2015

Antonina’s father died during his vacation to Italy. She and her two siblings then received a purported handwritten will made just before his death which named their cousin Anna as a beneficiary. In Re Estate of Domenico Grillo, 2015 ONSC 1352, Justice Newbould found Ontario had jurisdiction over Antonina’s application to set aside this holograph…read more

Divisional Court Guidance on “Proper Support”

by: , February 26, 2015

Bonnie and Danny had a 12 year common law relationship. In a modern twist on the typical fact scenario, Bonnie was the older, successful business woman and Danny was the younger man who left his job at Bonnie’s car dealership to look after things at home. At trial, Justice Greer found that they were very…read more