Troubling Conduct Results in Removal Executor of an Estate

In the recent decision of Wood’s Homes Society v. Selock, 2021 ABCA 431, the Court upheld a chamber judge’s decision to remove Lance Selock as the executor of an estate. The Court agreed with the chamber judge’s finding that Lance’s conduct was “very troubling.”

By way of background, in Sydney Metcalfe’s will, Barbara Selock was named executor of real property located in Calgary, referred to as Lucerne Apartments (the “Lands”). The Lands were registered in Barbara’s name in 1972. In Barbara’s will she named Lance as the executor of her estate.

Both parties to the litigation agreed that after Barbara’s death, Lance was the executor of the estates of Sydney and Barbara, and that the Lands formed part of Sydney’s Estate.

The Law on Removal of an Executor

The Court, at paragraph 13 and 14 outlined the law on removal of an executor or trustee as follows:

[13] The Estate Administration Act, SA 2014, c E-12.5 authorizes the court to remove the personal representative of an estate who has refused or failed to perform a duty or core task for which the personal representative is responsible (s 8). Pursuant to s 8, the court can also order the personal representative to perform a duty or core task, impose conditions on the personal representative, or “make any other order that the Court considers appropriate”.

[14] The core tasks of a personal representative when administering an estate are to: identify the estate assets and liabilities; administer and manage the estate; satisfy the estate debts and obligations; and distribute and account for the administration of the estate (s 7). The personal representative is required to perform the role honestly and in good faith, in accordance with the testator’s intention and with the will, and with the care, diligence and skill that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise in comparable circumstances where a fiduciary relationship exists, and to distribute the estate as soon as practicable (s 5).

The Decision Below

The chamber judge removed Lance as executor because, as the Court described at paragraph 9:

… he failed to distribute the estate as soon as practicable and failed to notify and regularly communicate with Wood’s Homes as the beneficiary of the Lands, to give an accounting of the administration of the estate, which is required every two years, until contacted by counsel for Wood’s Homes, and failed to administer the estate in a prudent and timely manner.

Court of Appeal Upholds the Chamber Judge’s Decision

The Court of Appeal upheld the chambers judge’s decision to remove Lance as executor. The chamber judge’s finding that Lance conduct as executor demonstrated he “was not capable of performing his role as executor,” the Court of Appeal found, was reasonable.

This case provides an example of the type of conduct that may lead a Court to order removal of an executor from their position. If you have any questions regarding the removal of an executor, contact one of the estate litigation lawyers at Kantor LLP. We are happy to answer any questions.

Filed Under
Case Summaries