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Monday, May 25, 2020 @ 9:40 AM  

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Appeal by the Executor of the Adams Estate and the Salvation Army from an order directing a trial on the issue of proof of the Will in solemn form. Adams died in 2016 at age 93. She never married and had no children. She ran a successful cattle ranching operation. Wilson was a neighbour and friend who worked for Adams from 1975 onward. Wilson alleged that Adams agreed to pay him only $1,000 per month on the understanding that he would inherit the ranching operation when she died. In 2011, Adams drafted a Will and appointed Staples, a friend, as Executor. The Will provided that a significant portion of the Estate was to be distributed to charitable causes, specifically, the Salvation Army. The Will gave the Executor discretion to distribute a portion of her Estate to persons known to the Executor who had been trustworthy, loyal and helpful to Adams in her lifetime. The Will stated that the Executor was aware of individuals who were not to benefit from the Estate. Wilson was not named in the Will as a beneficiary. In 2017, Wilson commenced litigation to enforce his alleged agreement with Adams and applied to have the Will declared invalid. The chambers judge ordered a trial to be held for proof of the Will in solemn form with the Salvation Army to be added as a third party. The Executor and the Salvation Army appealed. Wilson cross-appealed on the basis the chambers judge should have found the Will invalid and revoked the grant of letters probate.

HELD: Appeal by Executor and Salvation Army allowed; cross-appeal dismissed. The chambers judge erred in determining that Wilson had standing pursuant to Rule 16-46 of the Queen’s Bench Rules. On a preliminary basis, Wilson was not a beneficiary or otherwise entitled to a share of the Estate. At common law, creditors had no standing to require proof in solemn form or to challenge a Will. Applying the interpretative approach in the jurisprudence, the phrase “may be interested in the estate” in Rule 16-46 did not imbue a creditor with standing. This effectively disposed of Wilson’s standing argument given his status, as a successful application would create an intestacy that would not benefit him directly as a creditor or otherwise. Broadly speaking, standing required a legal or financial stake in the Will such that an individual was affected by the outcome of any challenge to the Will. An intestacy, as sought by Wilson, would not provide him with a stake in the outcome. The order under appeal was accordingly set aside.

Wilson v. Adams Estate, [2020] S.J. No. 101, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, R.K. Ottenbreit, L.M. Schwann and J.A. Tholl JJ.A., March 31, 2020. Digest No. TLD-May252020002