Thursday, June 27, 2013

Canadian estate worth $1 million left to neo-Nazi National Alliance

Contrary to what most people think, you can't necessarily leave your estate to anyone you want to, or with unlimited conditions attached. There are limits on testamentary freedom, or the ability to do as you like with  your own estate in your will.

Your testamentary freedom is balanced against the rights of others and against what is known as public policy. You couldn't, for example, leave a gift in your will to someone on the condition that he or she divorce their spouse, or commit a crime, as those situations are considered to be adverse for society in general.

I read about an interesting case in the National Post today and I'm wondering whether the gift in the will in question might be challenged on public policy grounds. I believe that it might, as the gift would leave about a million dollars to a group which advocates creating a whites-only country by eradicating Jews and people of certain races.

The gift was left in the will of Robert McCorkell of Saskatchewan, who died nine years ago and whose estate has been in probate until now. The estate is made up largely of a valuable coin collection worth about $1 million. The bequest was made to the National Alliance, an American group which has been described as a dangerous, neo-Nazi group. Ironically, the Alliance has more or less fallen apart over the years, but this money could actually revive its activities.

I think a strong argument can be made that allowing the gift to be paid would be knowingly funding terrorist activities. Neither Canadians nor Americans have much tolerance for terrorists. I also wonder how this estate might offend our anti-terrorist laws, never mind our probate laws.

Click here to read the article in the National Post. I'll be watching this story with great interest!

The photo of the National Alliance's compound in West Virginia accompanied the article in the National Post, and is credited to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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