In Meyers v. Rubin, 2017 ONSC 3498 Justice Meyers of the Superior Court for Ontario held that the Court's jurisdiction to appoint an administrator over property of a deceased person is not limited to circumstances which the will or grant of probate or administration is in issue.
Instead, Justice Meyers held that the court has broad and inherent powers to supervise the management of estates and to control its own processes. The Court may draw upon its inherent jurisdiction where appropriate to protect parties before the court so that justice can done in the proceeding. The purpose of the estate trustee during litigation is to ensure that the playing field is kept level.
In so doing, Justice Meyers rejected the assertion that the court's jurisdiction is limited by section 28 of the Estates Act which authorizes the court to appoint an administrator over property of a deceased person in a will challenge. Justice Meyers also rejected the submission that section 37 of the Trustee Act that governs the removal of trustees is a complete code.
When considering whether to appoint an estate trustee during litigation, the Court held that the following should be considered:
- The balance of convenience;
- The interests of the beneficiaries that the assets of the estate be immunized from tactics employed by litigating parties;
- The protection of a level playing field – in other words, neither side should be able to use their control over the estate to benefit themselves or to prejudice the other;
- Whether appointing an estate trustee will protect the estate from the trustees' animosity;
- The appointment of an estate trustee is not extraordinary;
- The court should favour appointment of an estate trustee during litigation unless the administration of the estate involved in particularly straightforward or simple.