The Case of Casey Kasem
Posted by Charles Ticker

One of the most frequent sibling estate fights that I come across is a dispute between siblings over who is to have the ability to make decisions for a parent who is not competent to make decisions for their own personal care. Sometimes the dispute involves third parties such as a stepmother or second spouse. A recent example of this type of dispute involves former Top 40 host Casey Kasem who had successful radio music shows called American Top 40 and Casey’s Top 40 in the 1970’s. I still listen to his recorded shows on satellite radio in my car. … Continue reading


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UPDATE- Sibling estate fight morphs into nasty neighbour dispute
Posted by Charles Ticker

I have previously blogged about a sibling estate fight that turned into a nasty neighbour dispute . Read the earlier blog here. The case Fitzpatrick v. Orwin and Squires involved a dispute over a property line that got very ugly when the neighbour Fitzpatrick was found at trial to have placed or caused someone to place a dead coyote on the hood of the other neighbour’s ( Squires)car. At trial, Fitzpatrick was found liable for over $200,000 in damages and interest and $ 20,000.00 in punitive damages plus costs. Fitzpatrick appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on February … Continue reading


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Another Farm Case of Proprietary Estoppel
Posted by Charles Ticker

In the past I have blogged about the doctrine of proprietary estoppel in the context of an estate dispute over ownership of a farm (See Breakfast with Gus). The Ontario Court of Appeal in Schwark Estate v. Cutting 2010 ONCA 61 summarized the law of proprietary estoppel in this way: “ The law with respect to proprietary estoppel is well-settled. This court has accepted that Snell’s Equity properly discloses the elements necessary to establish proprietary estoppel as: 1. encouragement of the plaintiffs by the defendant owner, 2. detrimental reliance by the plaintiffs to the knowledge of the defendant owner, and … Continue reading


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Appointing all your children as executors can be a mistake
Posted by Charles Ticker

When I was drafting Wills my clients would quite often have difficulty in deciding whom they should appoint to be their executor.  While they usually would appoint their spouse, when it came to appointing other alternate executors, they typically would tend to appoint all of their children.  I would advise my clients that naming any more than 2 or 3 executors was a recipe for disaster as all executors must act unanimously.  The problem can be avoided if the Will provides for a majority rule clause that provides a majority of executors can make decisions on behalf of the estate. … Continue reading


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Sibling spat results in removal of attorney
Posted by Charles Ticker

In the past, I have blogged and spoken about the duties of an attorney (substitute decision maker) acting under a power of attorney. I am consulted on a regular basis by family members of incapable persons who have concerns or complaints concerning the failure of an attorney to keep them in the loop as to what the attorney is doing with respect to the incapable person’s property. Quite often, the persons consulting me are being denied by the attorney the right to visit the incapable person even when they are close relatives or friends of the incapable person. The Substitute … Continue reading


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Sibling estate dispute highlights pitfalls of joint tenancy
Posted by Charles Ticker

A recent decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Semenoff Estate v. Bridgeman, highlights the problems that can result when joint tenancy is used as an estate planning tool , non-lawyers draft their own legal documents and ask their lawyers to accept and put into writing what they have agreed to between themselves. It also highlights the pitfalls of a party self- representing himself at trial without the benefit of a lawyer. The Semenoff family consisted of the matriarch Polly, her children William (Bill), Michael, Steve and Marion Demosky. Polly owned some land in rural BC. Sometime in the … Continue reading


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Duties of attorney for property difficult to find in Ontario statute
Posted by Charles Ticker

In Ontario, the duties of an attorney for property acting under a power of attorney (“POA”) are set out in the Substitute Decisions Act (“SDA”). An attorney who is prepared to do some research or seek legal advice will of course be referred to the SDA for more information on his or her powers and duties. However, it is not easy to locate the actual section of the SDA that deals with the duties of an attorney. One has to go to section 38 of the SDA to ascertain that an attorney acting under a POA, where the grantor is … Continue reading


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Preventing financial abuse under powers of attorney
Posted by Charles Ticker

This past week I attended the Canadian Bar Association National Elder Law Conference. The conference was an opportunity to meet colleagues from across Canada and to exchange ideas and discuss developments in the growing area of elder law. One of the topics discussed was the increasing problem of elder abuse including financial, physical, psychological, emotional and sexual abuse. Financial abuse is considered the most prevalent form of elder abuse. One of the most common causes of financial abuse is financial loss caused by mismanagement or theft under a power of attorney document (“POA”). In my estate litigation practice, I have … Continue reading


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Settlement of soul singer’s estate dispute set aside
Posted by Charles Ticker

I have written on this blog of several estate disputes involving celebrities. A recent case is yet another example of controversy that often results after a celebrity’s passing. James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul” died in Atlanta, Georgia on Christmas Day in 2006. He left an estate estimated between $5 million to over $100 million depending on who you ask. Brown left a Last Will and Testament dated August 1, 2000 in which he left all of his personal and household effects to his six adult named children. Brown left the remainder of his estate to the James Brown 2000 … Continue reading


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Sibling spat over sugar leads to estate fight
Posted by Charles Ticker

Sibling spats involving family and parents are not new. However, with the advent of email communications, those disputes, fuelled by the exchange of nasty e-mails, tend to grow totally out of proportion. Sometimes the ensuing litigation is so costly that it wipes out the total value of the estate. An example of this is the recent English case of Hawes v Burgess. The case involved a will challenge between siblings over the estate of their late mother Daphne Burgess. The three siblings Peter, Julia and Libby did not grow up in a wealthy home. Peter and his sisters always got … Continue reading


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