Clients' Father Suffered From Dementia
Our Clients’ Father suffered from dementia. He resided in a Veteran’s home, with all appropriate supports and no income or other needs. Their Mother had been his Attorney for Property. Their Mother changed her Will after the Father’s mental health had declined. She left a disposition different than their earlier mirror Wills that she and her Husband had made. In her new Will, she favoured our Clients and left little to two of her other children. Then she died, leaving our Client’s Father surviving her and leaving him without an Attorney for Property and with few assets in his name.
Without an Attorney for Property or Personal Care, the Public Guardian & Trustee was appointed as our Clients’ Father’s Statutory Guardian.
Our Clients sought to be appointed as their Father’s substitute decision makers – his Guardian of Property and Personal Care. The issues that had arisen were complex. Our Clients’ Father had potential claims against their Mother’s Estate. Their Mother had sold family assets and put them into her own name and out of their Father’s name such that they fell to her Estate and not to his Estate. Their Father would be left with far less than one-half of the assets they had accumulated during their marriage. Our Clients’ estranged siblings would be left with far less in their Mother’s Estate than from their Father’s Estate. Our Clients would be left with much more but with that, they were in a potential conflict of interest: their personal interest to take under their Mother’s Estate and their proposed fiduciary role to protect their Father’s Property and his Estate.
We negotiated a favourable resolution with the Public Guardian & Trustee (PGT) that saw our Clients being appointed as their Father’s substitute decision maker – his Guardians of Property and Personal Care – and addressed the dispositions made by their Mother. Our Clients’ estranged siblings, however, objected and proceedings were commenced. We obtained Court approval of the settlement with the PGT and a Judgment in face of strong objection of our Clients’ siblings.
The Judgment was appealed. We responded and achieved a favourable resolution of the Appeal.
Met With Client at Assisted Living Residence for Changes to Will
Ms. Hodgson met with her Client at her assisted living residence, took instructions on changes to her Will and attended to its execution. She also addressed the sale of her residence. As well, Ms. Hodgson ensured that the Client’s intention to gift monies to her Attorney by way of Power of Attorney, were properly documented, under oath. This was to document her Client’s intentions and wishes, to ensure that her Client’s intentions are beyond challenge and respected in the future.
In addition to planning and implementing plans, we help Clients resolve a variety of disputes due to a lack of planning or unforeseen events. For example, we assist in Guardianship Applications and disputes and we assist in the misuse of Powers of Attorney (i.e., misappropriation of funds and mismanagement of funds) and Passing of Accounts. We are often involved in Will Challenges, either for the Objectors or for those defending the validity of a Will in matters involving undue influence, lack of knowledge or approval, testamentary capacity, suspicious circumstances and forgery. We also litigate cases involving Solicitor Negligence Relating to Wills, Trusts and Estates.
Estate Litigation & Administration
Clients' Father Passed Away, Dispute Over Will with His Common-Law Spouse
Clients’ father had passed away. He left his three children from his first two relationships surviving as well as his long time third spouse. A dispute arose over his Will, with his long time common-law spouse claiming she did not receive adequate and proper support.
Litigation was commenced on the Estates List in Toronto. We answered on behalf of the Executors, two of the deceased’s children. After analyzing the incomes of the deceased and the common-law spouse claimant for the five years prior to the deceased’s death and their assets, we assessed the validity of a cohabitation agreement, which dictated that the common-law spouse was to receive the deceased’s home. We retained a forensic document examiner questioning the validity of the deceased signature on the agreement and challenged the process by which the agreement was allegedly reached. After evaluating the circumstances and taking tactical litigation steps, we very favourably resolved the claim by the common-law spouse in the midst of litigation short of a Trial. Before the resolution was reached, however, one of the surviving children died.
A further dispute then arose over the interest of the deceased child in his late father’s Estate. He had only recently gone through a form of wedding ceremony while suffering from ill health and dependencies. The validity of his marriage was quite questionable. The Wills and Codicils he signed during this time were suspect. The Clients were certain their father would not have wanted any portion of his Estate to go to a woman he really never met.
We commenced a Claim on behalf of the Executors challenging the validity of the marriage. We argued that the deceased child did not have the requisite mental capacity to enter into a marriage and that he was subjected to undue influence and coercion in the process. After a Defense was delivered, medical and legal records were obtained and analyzed, we favourably resolved the dispute on behalf of the surviving children and executors, again just short of a Trial.
Successful Resolution of Dependent's Relief Proceeding for Litigation Guardian
Mr. Parker successfully resolved a Dependent’s Relief proceeding for a Litigation Guardian on behalf of a minor under Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act and despite the position of The Children’s Lawyer, obtained an award of full indemnity costs for the Client from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Obtained Order for Temporary Custody, Child Support & Spousal Support
Client, a mother of five, came home from her son’s baseball game with her two older children and found herself locked out of her home. Father had taken two young children out of the home and had the police meet the mother, with her other children from a prior relationship, at the home. She could not get into the home and had to find shelter for herself and her three other children. Father brought an emergency motion in Southwestern Ontario for custody of the two younger children.
Client retained us, after initially hiring another law firm. Mr. Parker and Ms. Kofman responded to the emergency motion bringing an emergency motion in response, for custody, child support and spousal support. After three court attendances, and two full day Motions, we obtained an order for temporary custody, child support and spousal support, among other things, placing the two young children back in their mother’s care and obtaining an Order giving her more than one half of the parties’ considerable net disposable income.
Negotiation Between Common-Law Spouses Over Joint-Ownership of Home
Client separated from a common-law spouse jointly owning a home together. After two prior attempts to negotiate resolutions with other lawyers, and after many years, the client gave us the mandate to attempt to resolve the problem again, with her former spouse who remained living in the property post separation for approximately 15 years. We immediately commenced litigation, claiming partition and sale and occupation rent for those years. Instead of the nominal offers made in the past, our client effectively received the equivalent of one half of the equity in the property at the current market value even though the other side had paid the mortgage for all those years.
Client Received Close to One-Half of Equity in Home Which She Should Have Received
The Client agreed to sell her home to her Husband’s daughter from a prior relationship. The Client understood the couple would receive fair market value for the home and divide the proceeds. She went to a lawyer’s office signing the Transfer without much explanation. After the sale, it turned out that her Husband had given his daughter a significant reduction in the purchase price as a gift unbeknownst to his Wife, our Client. Also, she received only a portion of the monies. She immediately left him after the fact.
To solve the problem, Mr. Parker commenced litigation on behalf of the Client as against her Husband and his daughter claiming, among other things, an equalization of net family property and an Order setting aside the sale to the Husband’s daughter. The Husband defended as did his daughter, alleging our Client knew full well of the gift as well as all the details of the sale. We retained a forensic document examiner who proved that our Client never signed the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, as her Husband falsely had alleged.
We prepared for proceedings as against the lawyer who never explained anything to our Client, despite having met with her and her Husband to have her sign and consent to the Transfer. His position was that since the home was in the Husband’s name, our Client was not his client and he had no obligation to her.
In the end, our Client received close to one-half of the equity in her home which she should have received.
Motion Won for Child Support and Spousal Support from Payor with Under Disclosed Income
Mr. Parker won a Motion for, among other things, child support and spousal support, where a payor was determined to earn in excess of ten times of his initially disclosed income – from $60,000 to more than $600,000.
Won an Application for a Grandmother to Enjoy Access to Grandsons
In a grandparent’s rights matter, Mr. Parker also won an Application for a grandmother to enjoy access to her grandsons in, understandably, emotionally charged circumstances.
Mediation & Arbitration
Co-Estate Trustees Explored Options When in Disagreement on Administration of Mother's Estate
Mr. Parker met with co-Estate Trustees. They could not agree on certain aspects of the administration of their Mother’s Estate. Rather than warring in litigation and seeking the removal of both or one of them, they explored options with Mr. Parker, discussed various alternative courses of actions in the context of their fiduciary duties and reached an accord and proceeded with the administration. Each Client had their own counsel coaching them and advising them in the background. This was a much better result at one three-hour conference than months of litigation and thousands of dollars in costs.
Co-Estate Trustees & Beneficiaries Siblings Could Not Agree on Handling of Mother's Property Before She Passed
A Brother and Sister, as co-Estate Trustees and beneficiaries of their Mother’s Estate, could not agree on the handling of their Mother’s Property before she passed. They could not agree on the true ownership of a joint account, held by one of them with their Mother – whether the funds on deposit passed by right of survivorship or whether the account was merely one of convenience to allow the child to help their Mother with her banking and bill payments. Both siblings had counsel. The parties signed a Mediation Agreement, and after an evaluative style Mediation, desired by counsel and the parties, they reached a resolution in a one-day Mediation.
Wills, Trusts & Powers of Attorney
Assisted Successful Husband & Wife with Life & Estate Planning
Clients, Husband and Wife, had no life or estate planning documentation in place, despite operating a professional practice, owning large apartment buildings and other considerable assets. With assistance from tax professionals, Mr. Parker put in place multiple Powers of Attorney for Property as well as Multiple Wills, to ensure the proper operation of the professional practice and apartment buildings during the clients’ lifetimes and a Primary and a Secondary Will minimizing probate taxes. The Wills also contained tax favourable trusts to benefit the children of the clients.
Reviewed Client's Personal, Business Circumstances and Prepared Multiple Wills
Mr. Parker met with the Client, reviewed his circumstances including the nature of his businesses, took instructions and prepared Multiple Wills. His Secondary Will addressed his Secondary Estate, which addressed various corporations and personal property, as well as options to purchase his corporations and a spousal trust.
Made Changes to Client's Will and Attended to its Execution
Ms. Hodgson met with her Client at her assisted living residence, took instructions on changes to her Will and attended to its execution. She also addressed the sale of her residence, documented her instructions and prepared an agreement between herself and her Attorney by way of Power of Attorney.
Assisted Client with Attorney for Property and Statement of Wishes
Ms. Kofman, along with Mr. Parker, met with the Client at her home. The Client no longer desired to have her Attorney for Property continue. She wanted to remain in her home for the rest of her life and was concerned that her Attorney for Property might be misusing her monies and/or cause her to move to a long-term care residence if she was found incapable of making certain decisions. Ms. Kofman and Mr. Parker took instructions and prepared, on the spot, a Revocation of the Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and a Statement of Wishes, all to ensure her continued residence at home.