Family homes are a safe place for many, with shared memories and experiences shared amongst members of the family. Unfortunately, when people pass away, it’s not uncommon for the family home to be the focus of litigation. Unlike money, homes cannot be physically divided and shared amongst beneficiaries. That’s why it’s common for a home to be left to one family member. When that’s not the case, you might expect the home to be sold or for one party to buy out the other parties’ interests in the home. However, there are instances when the parties can’t agree on what happens to the family home. This was the case in a decision recently issued by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The issue before the court focused largely on what was to happen to the family home, referred to in the decision as “Brockington.” Valued at about $2 million, Brockington was the largest asset belonging to the estate of the deceased. The deceased was survived by her two adult children “SB” and “HB” as well as five grandchildren. One of the grandchildren, “MB,” was the applicant in the matter. MB is SB’s daughter. She has one other sibling, while SB has three children of his own.
SB and HB’s mother was the deceased, with their father passing away in 2017. When the father died, he left everything to the mother. Her will stated that if her husband predeceased her, her estate would be divided into five parts. Four of those parts were to be equally divided amongst the grandchildren, while the remaining 20% was to be split between her children HB and SB. A codicil was created to make room for a fifth grandchild, meaning the 80% of the estate for the grandchildren would be split five ways instead of four.
The deceased signed a second codicil in 2019. This one made SB and his daughter trustees as opposed to SB and his sister HB (the deceased’s children). Secondly, it also stated that Brockington was not to form part of the estate, and would instead be transferred to SB. The home’s ownership as transferred to both the deceased and SB as joint tenants.
SB had moved into the home when his father died. He did so to care for the mother, though other members of the family say that he tried to manipulate the deceased into favouring him in her will.
A previous court order had stated that SB could continue to live in the home as long as a line of credit he had against it (for $120,000) was paid back and he paid the taxes, insurance, and other costs associated with maintaining the home. He failed to do so. The court had additional concern about a personal tax debt he had of more than $100,000.
As a result of SB ignoring these court orders, the court ordered the home to be sold, meaning SB would be required to move out of it.
At NULaw, our experienced estate lawyer can help you in your estate administration matters as little or as much as you like – from simply drafting documents to acting as your agent in all your executor duties. We work with executors on a one-on-one basis to ensure they receive the personalized advice they need to effectively and lawfully carry out their duties and obligations. Contact us online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation today.