Passing Accounts: The Difficult Case of Re Haworth
Contentious estates are nothing new. Beneficiaries often squabble and bring up hurt feelings from years past. Yet when the executor finds himself in the line of fire, matters can become extremely messy (and expensive). Such was the case in the recent decision in Re Haworth 2015 BCSC 1530. The deceased’s estate was the subject of a variation claim by his two daughters. That litigation was settled and the estate divided between several beneficiaries.
However, one daughter, Ms. Bromley, continued to be unhappy with the conduct of the executor. She began making accusations and hurling abuse at the executor for his alleged incompetence and mismanagement of the estate. This resulted in substantial cost and delay for the estate and the other beneficiaries.
After a five-day hearing, the Court found that the executor acted reasonably and prudently, especially in the face of Ms. Bromley’s unwarranted attacks. The Court found that the passing of accounts should have required a one-day hearing, but instead took five days because Ms. Bromley took unreasonable positions and flooded the court with enormous amounts of irrelevant emails and documents (paragraph 15).
After reviewing all of the evidence and listening to days of testimony, the Judge certified the accounts and granted the executor his fee. Ms. Bromley was ordered to pay over $14,000 from her share of the estate for the costs incurred due to her unreasonable behaviour. She was also ordered to pay special costs to the other beneficiaries for the four additional hearing days required due to her unreasonable positions. Perhaps this case will act as a warning to unreasonable beneficiaries of the cost of their wild accusations.
PBLI’s upcoming program “Most Litigated Estate Issues: Proactive and Reactive Solutions” on September 29th, 2015 features an in-depth discussion on contentious passing of accounts. It is a must-attend program for those involved with estate planning, administration, or litigation. The early bird deadline ends Friday September 4th, so act quickly by visiting our Registrations page.
Posted on March 29, 2017 | Comments (0)