The idea of planning for your care in the event that you become unable to take care of yourself is an important step in proper estate planning. By granting someone power of attorney, you grant someone the authority over your finances and personal affairs. You can have one person oversee decisions around property, health, and finances, or you can appoint different people to oversee each area of decision-making. However, given the significant power and responsibility that an attorney has, it’s not uncommon for power of attorney disputes to arise. While there are valid occasions to dispute power of attorney appointments, it’s important to obtain proper legal advice. As we recently saw in a decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, being too aggressive in a power of attorney dispute can prove costly.

The appointments

The motion arose following the passing of accounts for “EC” who at the age of 92 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. At the time of the trial she lived in her own home under the care of her daughter, “CC,” who was her guardian for person care. In addition to CC, EC had three sons, “MC,” “PC,” and “AC.” MC was appointed alongside CC to act as her litigation guardian, while BMO Trust Company was appointed her guardian for property. This appointment was made in 2015 by the courts under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992.

The dispute begins

The passing of accounts had still not taken place because both PC and CC disputed the appointments of both MC as litigation guardian and BMO Trust Company as guardian for property. PC went on to eventually seek leave to appeal from the province’s Court of Appeal as well as the Supreme Court of Canada. This last leave to appeal was dismissed in May 2018. When BMO Trust Company attempted to fulfill the passing of accounts following the Supreme Court of Canada’s denial, PC once again filed a Notice of Objection.

The guardian for property has enough

After PC’s latest filing, BMO Trust Company sought to have PC labeled as a vexatious litigant in the proceedings. The court agreed, quoting the Court of Appeals’s description of PC’s behaviour,

“In our view, there is no merit to these appeals. They are the culmination of unnecessarily protracted litigation that has depleted (EC’s) estate, wreaked havoc on the emotional and financial health of all concerned, wrongfully maligned Section 3 Counsel, and wrongfully impugned the applications judge. It is past time for the litigation over (EC) to end.”

The court added its own thoughts to the matter, writing,

“I would acknowledge that in many cases it will be in the interests of the incapable person that one or more of her children be accorded standing in a passing of accounts. I can see no such interest when the child and future beneficiary of the incapable person wishes to put forward vexatious arguments that can only cause family strife, further delay and expense and which will dissipate (EC’s) assets, which she may well need for her health care and well-being over the balance of her life.”

At Derfel Estate Law, our Toronto estate lawyers can help you protect the financial, health, and personal interests of your loved ones. We provide strategic and compassionate advice and will take the time to thoroughly understand your specific concerns and desired outcome, and will act accordingly, while making sure all relevant parties are protected throughout the process. Call us at 416-847-3580 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.