Friday, July 20, 2007

Feuding Executors and Conflicts of Interests

Don't appoint two people who don't get along as co-executors. That is one of the lessons in Estate of Joan Maki, 2007 BCSC 1034.

Joan Maki appointed her twin daughters as co-executors of her will. She had six children, all daughters, but left most of her estate to her twins.

Joan Maki had purchased a condominium in White Rock, which was held with Karen Maki, who was one of the twin daughters. They each had a half interest on title as tenants in common (meaning that on the death of either, the deceased's half interest would form part of the deceased's estate).

After Joan Maki's death, her other twin daughter, Kristy Gouldsmith, as well as her other four daughters, challenged Karen Maki's claim to be entitled to a half-interest in the condominium. The other four, also brought a Wills Variation Act claim seeking to vary their mother's will, on the basis that their mother did not make adequate provision for them.

Kristy Gouldsmith, who was supported by the other four daughters, applied to court to pass over Karen. If successful, Kristy Gouldsmith would be the sole executor, and she would be able to sue Karen Maki on behalf of their mother's estate to recover the half interest in the condominium.

Karen Maki, in turn, applied to court for a grant of probate, reserving the right of her twin sister to apply at a later date. She also made an application to have Kristy Gouldsmith removed as executor. Karen Maki also asked the court to appoint an independent administrator if the court did not grant probate to her, Karen Maki.

Master Taylor granted Kristy Gouldsmith's application. He passed over Karen Maki, and ordered that probate be granted to Kristy Gouldsmith. The Court found that Karen Maki was in a conflict of interest. Her sisters were claiming that Karen Maki held the half-interest in the condominium as well as some bank accounts in trust for their mother's estate. She could not both act on behalf of the estate, and defend her own personal interest in the disputed assets.

Master Taylor also rejected Karen Maki's argument that Kristy Gouldsmith should be removed as executor. Although the two twin daughters did not get along, Kristy Gouldsmith had not done anything to endanger the estate assets. Nor had she acted dishonestly or shown a want of fidelity.

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