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Estates - SLRA - Dependent's Support

. Pletch v. Pletch Estate

In Pletch v. Pletch Estate (Div Court, 2024) the Divisional Court spelled out new estate costs doctrine ('blended costs'), here where the lower court held that the intestate "had not made adequate provision to support his children and for payment of his debts" under the SLRA [s.72 - 'Value of certain transactions deemed part of estate'].

Here the court briefly describes the s.72 SLRA orders:
[4] Specifically, the application judge made orders as to what assets would be considered to fall within s. 72 of the SLRA to form part of Darrell’s net estate to provide for the children. An order under s. 72 is made to ascertain the value of assets in an estate to make the capital value of those assets available for distribution for specified purposes.
. Bolte v McDonald Estate

In Bolte v McDonald Estate (Div Court, 2023) the Divisional Court considered an intestate estate where the unmarried spouse applied under the SLRA [s.58] for support. In these next quotes the court summarizes the SLRA Part V 'support of dependents' regime and the leading cases on this as stated by the lower court judge:
[9] At paragraphs 24 to 26 of his reasons, the application judge outlined the legislative framework that applies to this decision:
Intestacy is addressed in Part II of the SLRA. Under s. 44, where a person dies intestate and is survived by a spouse and no children, the spouse is entitled to the estate property absolutely. However, "spouse" for the purposes of Part II, is defined as being a spouse under section 1 of the Family Law Act, 1990 c. F. 3 ("FLA"). That definition requires marriage. Thus, Sharon would not be considered a "spouse" under Part II.

Under s. 47 of the SLRA, in an intestacy without a spouse, the property is to be distributed equally among the deceased's children.

Part V of the SLRA permits a dependant to make a claim for support where a deceased, whether testate or intestate, has not made adequate provision for the proper support of his or her dependants. In such a case, the court may order that such provision as it considers adequate be made out of the estate of the deceased for the proper support of the dependants, or any of them (s. 58 of the SLRA).
[10] At paras. 27 and 28 of his reasons, the application judge described the definitions of “dependant” and “spouse” as per the SLRA:
A "dependant" means the spouse, parent, child or sibling of the deceased "to whom the deceased was providing support or was under a legal obligation to provide support immediately before his or her death". Furthermore, "child" is defined so as to include a grandchild.

Under Part V, "spouse" is defined as set out in s. 29 of the FLA, to include persons who have cohabited continuously for a period of not less than three years. Thus, for the purpose of Part V of the SLRA, Sharon qualifies as a "spouse".
[11] The motions judge then reviewed s. 62 of the SLRA which describes factors a court ought to consider when determining support for a dependant. Having described the applicable legislation, the motions judge then reviewed the governing jurisprudence including Cummings v. Cummings (2004), 2004 CanLII 9339 (ON CA), 69 O.R. (3d) 398 and Tataryn v. Tataryn Estate, 1994 CanLII 51 (SCC).

[12] At para. 33 of his reasons, the application judge quoted this court in Quinn v. Carrigan, [2014] O.J. No. 4589 for the applicable legal test when determining adequate financial provision for a dependant:
The Divisional Court addressed the approach to be taken in dependants' relief claims in Quinn v. Carrigan. The Court noted that the determination of "adequate" financial provision for a dependant under the SLRA is discretionary and is not an exact science (at para. 79). The court, adopting from the decision of J.R. Henderson J. in Perilli v. Foley Estate, described the manner by which the court must approach the task, as follows (at para. 82):
[82]... Therefore, in a claim under section 58 of the SLRA in Ontario, I find that the court must first identify all of the dependants who may have a claim on the estate. Then, the court must tentatively value the claims of those dependants by considering the factors set out in the legislation and the legal and moral obligations of the estate to the dependants. Thereafter, the court must identify those non-dependant persons who may have a legal or moral claim to a share of the estate. Lastly, the court must attempt to balance the competing claims to the estate by taking into account the size of the estate, the strength of the claims, and the intentions of the deceased in order to arrive at a judicious distribution of the estate. This exercise may involve the prioritization of the competing claims.
[13] The application judge then applied four-part test.
Subsequently, at paras 14-24 the court cites the lower courts reasons on application of that test (which the present court approves), and at paras 27-50 adds their additional comments in support of what largely amounts to the creation of a will favouring the unmarried spouse.


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Last modified: 20-04-24
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