Estates LitigationInsolvency and Restructuring
Disappointed No Longer: Supreme Court Clarifies the Interplay between Insurance Act Beneficiary Designations and Unjust Enrichment
Last Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada released its long-awaited decision in the case of Moore v Sweet, and settled a troubling issue in the trusts and estates world: the case of the disappointed life insurance beneficiary.
Lord Denning once said that estoppel is a house with many rooms. In December 2017, in Cowper-Smith v Morgan, 2017 SCC 61, the Supreme Court of Canada undertook some significant renovations to an important, but little used, room in that house: proprietary estoppel. And just like your neighbour’s renovations to build their monster home can have a real impact on your property, this is a decision that has impacts well beyond the particular facts of that case.
An Ontario decision has expanded the application of public policy to void a will, and in so doing has raised concerns of floodgates and abuse. In Spence v. BMO Trust Company, 2015 ONSC 615, Justice Gilmore determined that the deceased, who was black, disinherited his adult daughter because she had a child with a Caucasian man – "a clearly stated racist principle".