The Sherman Murders At the Supreme Court: Balancing Privacy with Openness

by: , November 10, 2020

Almost three years ago today, billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman were found murdered in their North York mansion. Their murderer(s) remain at large. In an unusual move, their probate files were sealed to protect the safety, privacy and dignity of the trustees and beneficiaries of their estates. This decision was appealed and now the…read more

Does a Joint Bank Account Go to the Survivor or the Estate?

by: , July 27, 2020

The Law of Resulting Trusts What happens to jointly owned assets following the death of one of the joint owners? In the normal course, full ownership passes to the surviving owner.[1] However, this result may seem unfair where only one of the owners paid for the property or, in the case of bank accounts, only…read more

The Rights of a Surviving Spouse – Spousal Election

by: , July 6, 2020

I just finished watching Mrs. America, the recent TV series that chronicles the fight by women in the 1970s to enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the US Constitution. First proposed in 1921, the ERA sought to mandate equality between men and woman. In 1972, Congress passed the ERA, but they could not obtain…read more

My Sister Died Without a Will – What Happens Now?

by: , June 15, 2020

A will allows an individual to decide in advance who will administer her estate and who will receive her assets when she dies. Testamentary freedom is guaranteed to all Canadians, meaning we are free to choose who will benefit from our estates: family members, friends, pets, charities, or our favourite sports team. (Note that most…read more

The Risks of Being an Estate Trustee

by: , June 8, 2020

A recent news story highlighted one estate trustee’s regretful experience administering an estate.  Due to lengthy litigation involving the validity of the Will and an unsuccessful result for the estate trustees, the estate trustee was ordered to personally pay over $100,000.00 in legal fees.  While the personal cost order was a result of a unique…read more

How Much Compensation Is An Estate Executor Entitled To?

by: , May 11, 2020

After being appointed as estate trustee or executor of an estate, it can be unclear how much compensation can be claimed for administering the estate. In addition, beneficiaries often object to the amount claimed. How is executor compensation determined? In some cases, the will itself outlines the amount of compensation that may be claimed or…read more

It’s All About The Benjamin Orders

by: , September 4, 2018

Did William die? If so, when? These were the central issues addressed in Steele v. Smith, 2018 ONSC 4601. There, the Court had to consider whether the estate trustee of William’s sister’s estate should receive a “Benjamin Order”, permitting the estate trustee to distribute the residue of her estate as if William had predeceased her. The…read more

Digital Assets Remain a Puzzling Subject in Estates

by: , January 18, 2016

Peggy Bush, a 72-year-old Victoria B.C. resident, lost her husband David to cancer in August. Peggy, who David left his entire estate to, was able to transfer the title of their house and car to her name without issue by using a notarized death certificate and a copy of the will. The only asset Peggy…read more

Insolvent and Bankrupt Estates

by: , May 26, 2015

Estate trustees and beneficiaries often focus on the positive – the many and varied assets of an estate which will soon be distributed to the beneficiaries. It is only after the estate administration is underway that the full financial picture emerges – an estate that appeared flush may actually have more debts than there are…read more

Being Removed or Renouncing as Estate Trustee?

by: and , November 4, 2014

Although they sound similar, there are important procedural differences between “removing” an estate trustee and “renouncing” the right to act as an estate trustee. Where the named estate trustee has not yet begun acting in her role as estate trustee (i.e. she has not yet undertaken any work administering the estate), she may “resign” or…read more