Trustees should act in interest of estate or risk paying the price


Toronto estate litigator Sean Lawler says the lesson learned from a recent Court of Appeal decision is that the court will be less inclined to protect an estate trustee who pursues his or her own interests rather than the interests of the estate and beneficiaries.

The matter of Brown v. Rigsby, 2016 ONCA 521, involved a family at odds over their mother’s estate. The appellants, Janet Rigsby and Paul Shackleton, were the estate trustees and attorneys pursuant to a power of attorney granted to them by their mother. Three of their siblings challenged their handling of matters, and while close to $160,000 was spent on lawyers by both sides, the parties eventually settled out of court shortly before the commencement of the trial in 2014.

However, the parties were unable to agree on the costs of the action and agreed that entitlement of the parties to costs should be determined by the court.

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