The recent case of Yaworski Estate (Re), 2016 ABQB 86 serves as a reminder to warring beneficiaries that their modest inheritances could be eaten up by administration and legal fees incurred in addressing legal challenges and disputes among the beneficiaries.
In this case, estate administration proved difficult. The personal representatives appointed in the Will were unable to agree or cooperate on many matters. They were 3 of the testator's 11 children (only 7 of the 11 were beneficiaries). After several years of disagreements, these personal representatives were discharged and a professional administrator was appointed by the Court.
The court-appointed administrator was tasked with selling or otherwise disposing of the personal property and real estate held by the Estate.
After the court-appointed administrator disposed of the property, the value of the Estate was approximately $317,000. He filed an application to have his accounts passed, which amounted to approximately 35 percent of the Estate's value. Two of the beneficiaries (who were also former personal representatives) said this was too much.
The Court reviewed the accounts and was satisfied that the amount of time recorded in carrying out the duties of the court-appointed administrator and its legal counsel was actually spent and was reasonably required to be spent. The Court also reminded the beneficiaries and the former personal representatives that the court-appointed administrator was required in the first place because they could not get along. Further, their continued disputes and interferences made the administrator's job more time-consuming and expensive than it would otherwise have been.
With the exception of a few adjustments, the Court passed the accounts as submitted.