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Missing Benificiary

The Dilemma of the Missing Beneficiary

The task of an estate trustee is rarely an easy one. Much less so when a beneficiary of the estate was born in 1925, is believed to have lived in the United Kingdom, and whose whereabouts are not forthcoming from any of the deceased’s family members.  On top of this, he is rumoured to have had an affair with his sister-in-law, after which he was threatened by his brother and may have had reason to go into hiding. The above facts are drawn from a real case, Steele v. Smith, which was recently decided in Ontario. Did the estate trustee in this situation have an obligation to attempt to find the elusive beneficiary?  What should he have done if he couldn’t find him? These questions, and other related legal issues, will be discussed in this blog.
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When Might Unjust Enrichment Apply in Estates Litigation?

Lawyers and laypeople alike may be aware of the equitable principle that no one should be able to profit from committing a wrongful act. The doctrine of unjust enrichment is similar and deals with transfers of property from one person to another where there is no valid reason to allow the transferee to retain the property. The doctrine has specific application in estates litigation.
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A Review of Unjust Enrichment

Many clients intuitively know they have been wronged. However, what feels like a meritorious claim sometimes has no readily apparent basis in law. In some instances, the courts have historically addressed these moral claims by employing principles of "equity" to give deserving parties a remedy. One such tool employed by the courts is the doctrine of unjust enrichment.
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