THE FACTS – PART 1
We have the elsewhere discussed the legal components of a gift and its ramifications. We suggest our readers simply use the search bar on our website to find a number of blogs touching on “gifts”.
A common fact scenario when a court examines the issue of a gift arises from elderly parents being preyed upon by their greedy children or similar abuses. In the interesting British Columbia Court of Appeal decision in Sandwell v. Sayers, a April 2023 decision of the court we have a set of circumstances that to the average reader would clearly seem to be a gift that had been made in the fullest and eyes wide open of circumstances. The difficult father had arranged to make a gift of a 1/2 joint tenancy interest in his home to one of his adult daughters. This could only be done with the services of a notary public in British Columbia, who took great care to ensure that the father knew what he was doing. The notary public made the father think about the transfer, had explained the ramifications of the transfer, made the father sign various documents confirming to the father the legal effect and irrevocability of the gift, and despite all of these warnings by the notary public, the father proceeded and signed the transfer of the half interest in his home gifting it to one of his daughters.
On December 4, 2020, the father met with the notary public and signed the documents relating to the transfer. The notary dragged his feet to ensure that the father again had been given sufficient time to ensure that his intentions would remain unchanged and the documents effecting the transfer were not registered for almost another week. Eleven days after the transfer was registered, the father contacted the notary public and asked for the transfer to be unwound.
The trial court was not impressed by the father and dismissed his application to set aside the transfer. Father was still not satisfied and appealed to the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal was similarly not impressed and in this author’s view, simply said sorry no take backs, you knew what you were doing and it is too late. The court reviewed as we have in other blog articles various areas of law such as the law of resulting trust and undue influence, the most important of which is the 2007 Supreme Court of Canada decisions in Pecore and the 1991 Geffen v Goodman Estate case.
The law is described more fully in part 2 of this blog.