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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Expectant beneficiary launches estate dispute while mother is still alive

We've all heard of "waiters", those adults who are waiting for a parent to pass away in order to inherit the money they need to live the elevated lifestyle they wish to live. Apparently, even the small amount of decorum shown by the waiters is disappearing. Some are now commencing estate disputes while their parents are still alive.

I recently read an article by Matthias Duensing in which he talks about the case of Keller v. Wilson, a recent Ontario case. You can read Mr. Duensing's article here. Margaret Kaufman was 91 years old and had advanced dementia. She had appointed her son-in-law (Hilton) and her longtime lawyer (Keller) to act under her Power of Attorney and eventually to act as the executors and trustees of her will. She had one son, Ross Alexander Wilson, who was named as the sole residuary beneficiary of her estate.

The son, Ross, brought an application to the court to have Hilton and Keller removed from their position under the POA and under the will. His reason given was that these two had continually shown him an antagonistic and adversarial attitude. They countered by saying that Ross had continually been after them for money, both personally and through the courts.

The judge refused to grant Ross's application. The court was not convinced that Ross had shown "strong and compelling evidence of misconduct or neglect" on the part of the trustees that would be required for the judge to go against Mrs. Kaufman's clear wishes of  having Hilton and Keller in place.

I find this case really interesting, but not that surprising. Over the years I have met an awful lot of people who really don't see why they can't have their inheritance "early". The idea that they have to wait for a parent to pass away first seems almost irrelevant to them. In my discussions with these waiters, I am often told that they should have the money now because the parent doesn't need it or isn't going to spend it. I wonder how they'd feel if someone walked in and took their money away without their consent.

It was only a matter of time before someone frustrated by the lack of cooperation by trustees who wouldn't fund their expecations would bring a lawsuit like this. I'm glad it didn't succeed.

You can read the case in full here.


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