The Supreme Court of Canada ruled to uphold the decision of a lower court to halt the dispensation of a man’s estate to a United States-based white supremacist group. The Supreme Court ruled that it would not hear the appeal, which was filed by the Canadian Association for Free Expression.
The court did not offer a reason for the decision, which is not unusual for the court. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for an individual to be limited in terms of giving away his or her wealth in a will — especially when the bequeathment appears to contradict public policy.
The Association of Free Expression said in its appeal that the lower court’s decision represented a violation of the decedent’s right. The man gifted his estate to National Alliance — a West Virginia-based white supremacist organization. According to a chairman of National Alliance, he actually knew the decedent, who formerly lived in West Virginia. However, in 2013, the man’s sister successfully challenged the will by stating that it was not in alignment with public policy and therefore illegal.
In a different and separate matter, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from a black woman, who said that her father disinherited her for racist reasons — because she gave birth to a child from a white man. However, the court rejected the appeal. According to a legal expert, that matter was different because did not call into question the will itself, but merely called into question the choice of beneficiary. In the instant case, on the other hand, the matter involved a group that participated in activities that were illegal in Canada.
This case highlights how important it is to work with an experienced lawyer when drafting a will. A lawyer can work to ensure that a will can survive being challenged in court, and that all the language and beneficiaries are legal and above board.
Source: Reuters, “Canada top court rejects appeal in white supremacy probate case,” Ethan Lou, June 09, 2016