September 1, 2023
Estate disputes triggered by sibling rivalry continue to clog up Ontario courts.
So much so that the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a Superior Court decision where the judge departed from normal requirements that the outcome of a hearing has to be something the parties anticipated or at least had noticed was in issue.
In Grady v Grady, the judge was hearing a motion to adjourn an application. Having refused the adjournment, the judge then gave final judgment on the application, deciding which of the warring sisters would continue as estate trustee and the substantive question as to whether the deceased father had severed the joint tenancy in the home he owned with the newly deceased mother. Dad had willed his interest to one daughter only. A severance would result in that sister receiving three-quarters of the value of the home. No severance, and the sisters inherit equally under Mom’s will.
The Court of Appeal not only excused the judge’s approach but encouraged its use in other estate disputes, pointing out that the Rules of Civil Procedure calls for courts to: “secure the just, most expeditious and least expensive determination” of these proceedings that was “proportionate to the importance and complexity of the issues, and to the amount involved”.
- Justice does not require expensive rule-bound procedures in every case.
- If this reminder resonates through the Superior Court, the flood of estate litigation will not suddenly become a trickle, but it will not drown the system.
- With any luck, lawyers might even take this to heart and advise clients on the most expeditious and least expensive road to a just determination without clogging up the court system.
HOW WEILERS LLP CAN HELP YOU
The litigation team at Weilers LLP has always been about the bottom line. We try to reflect the rules related to inexpensive justice and proportionality in all of our cases. If that is the approach that you also want, you should give us a call and see if we are the right lawyers for you.