B.C. man who left $1M estate to friends has will overturned by judge | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. man who left $1M estate to friends has will overturned by judge

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April 12, 2021 - 7:30 AM

A deceased B.C. man who purposely left his two children out of his will along with instructions to fight any claim his children might try to make has had a judge overturn his wishes.

In an April 7 B.C. Supreme Court decision, Justice Gary Weatherill describes the late Ronald Maurice Poole as acting out of bitterness and "sour grapes" because he lost a custody battle over the two children 30 years earlier.

According to the decision, Poole had twins in 1986 after a short relationship with their mother.

The decision says he then "dropped out of the twin's lives and disappeared."

When the twins were young their mother died and Poole became involved in a custody battle over the children but lost. Custody was given to friends of the twins' mother and although Poole had been granted "generous parenting time" he did not see them, or contribute financially.

When Poole died in 2017 he left his $1-million estate to two friends and made them the executors of his will. The will stipulated to "aggressively block" any attempt by his children to contest the will.

However, the Justice ruled the deceased had a "moral obligation" to his children.

The decision says under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act a judge has the power to vary a will.

"If a will-maker dies leaving a will that does not, in the court's opinion, make adequate provision for the proper maintenance and support of the... children, the court may... order (a) provision that it thinks adequate, just and equitable," the decision reads.

During the two day trial held in Kelowna, the Justice looked at the finances of the two friends Poole had left his estate to comparing it to the finances of his children.

The two friends and executors of the will, Bernard Allen Sabiston and Ian Campbell Toombs, are both in their 70s and financially independent. While Poole's children are in their 30s and one suffers various health issues which makes it difficult to work.

Sabiston and Toombs say they have a "moral" obligation to oppose the twins' claim on the estate because that's what Poole wanted.

But the Justice dismissed their argument, saying as executors of the estate they are required to remain neutral and described their argument as “disingenuous."

In the decision, the Justice talks at length about the relationship, or lack of, Poole had with his children.

"(Poole) owed a moral obligation to them and failed to meet it during his lifetime... Sabiston and Toombs’ moral claim to the deceased’s estate, if they even have one, pales by comparison to that of the twins," Justice Weatherill said.

With this the Justice ordered the children to receive 70 per cent of the estate, netting them roughly $300,000 each. Sabiston and Toombs will get about $200,000 each.

And the fact that the deceased died four years ago, didn't stop the Justice from having some harsh words about Poole's conduct.

"The deceased lost the battle for custody and thereafter, through bitterness, stubbornly decided to blame them," the Justice said. "The fact that he made it so clear... that he wanted no part of his estate to go to them, and instructed his executors to fight any attempt by them to vary his will, speaks volumes about his attitude towards them and his misguided and ill-conceived attempt to punish them for matters beyond their control.

"He failed in his last opportunity to behave like a judicious father and recognize... his moral obligations to the twins."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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