A relative’s grudge can cause serious financial harm to your estate. A recent case shows how much damage can happen.
We all have fights with our relatives. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner are perfect examples of family gatherings where relatives air their grievances, addressing family issues in front of everyone.
While nothing seems worse in the moment, family grievances and vendettas can affect much more than your holiday plans—your estate plan could be at risk as well.
Recently, a family member’s reprehensible behaviour caused extreme financial harm to an estate.
Michael Osidacz’s brother, Andrew, died in a police confrontation after killing his son, leaving Michael as the executor of the estate. However, Michael Osidacz tried to prevent Andrew’s estranged wife, Julie Craven, from gaining access to her share of the Osidacz estate.
“Michael Osidacz was acting not as an estate trustee but personally, in carrying out a vendetta against Julie Craven in order to limit any compensation she received from the estate,” – Lofchik
Previously, Michael Osidacz had used money from the estate itself to fight Craven’s legal claim, essentially throwing up every legal roadblock and defense possible. This constituted ‘reprehensible’ behaviour and ‘reckless and egregious’ conduct in the eyes of the court.
The judge ultimately decided that Michael Osidacz’s behaviour over a ten-year period had constituted harassment to Andrew’s estranged wife and ordered Michael Osidacz to personally pay Craven a total of $141,310 plus HST in legal costs, along with another $10,000 in disbursements. Earlier this year, Craven was awarded $565,000.00 from the estate, including ‘aggravating and punitive’ damages.
“Osidacz attempted to portray himself as “a person of limited means” as he fought against having to repay the legal costs, but Lofchik wasn’t buying the argument.” – Steve Buist (Hamilton Spectator)
This case brings family vendettas to the forefront of estate planning, as well as the financial repercussions of ignoring them until the last moment. Even though you may feel confident in your estate plan and your process, it’s extremely important to make sure that you have all of your bases covered.
Having an open conversation with your estate lawyer is a great first step. Exploring all legal possibilities stemming from family feuds is the responsible way to make sure that no financial harm comes to the estate.