Court Orders Step-Siblings to Return Funds to Estate and Pay Costs

Kelly Santini’s J.P. Zubec and Henry Bertoia achieved a successful result in a motion brought within a complicated estate dispute between step-siblings.   

The case arose out of the following facts:  J.P. and Henry’s clients, Tracy and Virginia, were the children of a woman (Colleen) who left the vast majority of her estate to her second husband, who was Tracy and Virginia’s step-father. After Colleen died, the step-father changed his will and left virtually all of his assets (including Colleen’s assets) to his natural children. Tracy and Virginia discovered the change after their step-father passed away, and the civil proceeding started soon after the natural children of the step-father refused to share the assets of the step-father’s estate.   

Approximately a year into the proceeding, J.P. and Henry discovered that the step-father’s children were using the assets of the estate to fund their litigation costs. J.P. and Henry successfully obtained an Order form the Superior Court of Justice that prevented the step-father’s children from using the estate’s assets to fund their litigation legal costs. The Order also required the step-father’s children to repay all of the money they had taken from the estate to pay for their litigation legal costs.  In addition, the Court ordered the step-father’s children to pay $33,000 in costs to Tracy and Virginia.  

The written decision can be found at Santos et al v. Coghlan et al2023 ONSC 4862. Read more about the case in this article from Canadian Lawyer.