April 20, 2016
Case comment on Re Morrison Estate | Registered Retirement Income Fund
Benjamin J. Kormos
Estate, Wills & Trust Litigation Group
As we prepare for 2016, there is little doubt that this is one of the important estate decisions of 2015. On December 8, 2015, Mr. Justice Graesser of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench released his ruling in this interesting estate case. The case boiled down to these issues: Is the RRIF an asset that flows into the Estate (to be divided amongst the Estate’s residuary beneficiaries)? Or, do the RRIF funds go to the person named by the Deceased, pre-death, as a beneficiary on the designation/declaration form?
The essential facts are not complicated, and are as perennial as grass in estate litigation matters. The Deceased, John Morrison, died in November of 2011, leaving four surviving children at his death: Robert, Douglas, Cameron, and Heather. In his March, 2002 professionally prepared Will, John named his children, Douglas and Heather, as alternate joint Personal Representatives (Executors) in the even his wife pre-deceased him. His wife predeceased him in June of 2002, mere months after the Will.
Mr. Morrison apparently had a history of inter vivos gifts. The case report highlights an $11,000 loan to his son, Robert, which the Will declared an advance on Robert’s distributive share. And, just before his death Mr. Morrison’s home was sold and an inter vivos distribution of some of the net sale proceeds amongst his four children ($25,000 apiece) was effected. That distribution became a fulcrum for some of the unusual aspects of this decision.
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