Today’s post is a link to an article previously posted on a blog operated by Wagner Sidlofsky, a well-known Toronto estate law firm.
The article reminds executors that they can face liability if they fail to supervise their co-executor. This is illustrated by the Ontario decision in Cahill v Cahill.
In Cahill v Cahill, the will provided that Kevin and Sheila should set $100,000 aside in trust for their brother, Patrick with the balance of the residue to go to the grandchildren. Kevin said he would take care of everything, but Kevin did not set up the trust. Kevin stole the money and he disappeared. His co-executor Sheila did nothing about it, and she didn’t receive any of the money.
Patrick sued his brother Kevin, but he was nowhere to be found. Patrick also sued his sister, Sheila, claiming she was a co-executor and therefore was equally responsible. Sheila’s defence was that it was Kevin who did the wrongdoing. Sheila said that, as it was Kevin who had the sole discretion, and it was only Kevin’s fault, so she should not have to pay.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that Sheila was also liable. As such, we can learn the following lessons from this case:
- Trustees have an obligation to supervise each other
- If your co-executor acts inappropriately, you should immediately contact a lawyer and explore options to protect the estate beneficiaries, and yourself, from further negative consequences
In short, if you are one of multiple executors, is it not enough that you simply rubber stamp all decisions made by your co-executors.
The article by Wagner Sidlofsky can be viewed here.
James Steele’s preferred practise area is estate litigation, including will challenges, executor disputes, power of attorney issues, etc. Contact James Steele at 1-306-933-1338 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The above is for general information only. Parties should always seek legal advice prior to taking action in specific situations.