Despite the best planning and intentions, family disagreements over an estate can and do erupt. Contentious disputes over a will can stall administration and create more friction and anxiety between impacted parties. This can also lead to distrust in the estate trustees or litigation.

In such circumstances, the Ontario court can appoint an Estate Trustee During Litigation (ETDL) to replace the estate trustees. The ETDL acts as a neutral, independent estate trustee and is an officer of the court. Their role is to act in a fiduciary capacity and manage the estate, including maintaining and preserving estate assets, while the litigation is ongoing.

An EDTL can be an intermediary to help facilitate conversation among the parties with the aim to resolve disputes. During the litigation process, the ETDL facilitates reporting to the relevant parties on the estate assets and administration. They can be a helpful resource by providing needed information as the litigation unfolds.

How we can help

ETDLs come from a range of backgrounds – lawyers, bankers, accountants, or trustees in bankruptcy. Fuller Landau’s professionals are uniquely equipped and qualified to act as an ETDL. CPAs at the core, our professionals are also Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CIRP) and Licensed Insolvency Trustees. We have extensive knowledge of the court systems and are experienced court officers who act with objectivity and neutrality as is expected of our profession. We also have Trust and Estate Practitioners (TEPs) and Chartered Business Valuators (CBVs) on our team who we can draw upon for support as needed.

We are particularly adept at understanding and managing estates that involve operating businesses and complex corporate holdings. Here, our experience as corporate restructuring and insolvency experts comes into play.

We regularly work in stressful, fast-paced environments and have a reputation among our clients as being empathetic, adaptable, calming and business savvy.

You’ll benefit from having a one-on-one relationship with one of our professionals who will work with you directly until the litigation is resolved. We can draw upon the expertise of other Fuller Landau professionals in other service areas such as tax, valuations, accounting, corporate finance, and investment advisory services.

Who we work with

We work closely with estate lawyers who are managing large, complex estates in dispute.

Our experience

We have acted as ETDL on estates with a value of well over $100 million. These estates have included numerous corporate entities, extensive real estate and development holdings, complex corporate structures, and charitable foundations. We have experience with estates that have required a range of needs including an investigation of corporate transactions, business valuation for settlement purposes, tax issues, and running of a real estate development company.

EDTL responsibilities

Here’s what you can expect from an EDTL:

Managing estate assets and liabilities

  • Protecting and safeguarding assets
  • Overseeing the management of an operating business
  • Determining the value of the estate
  • Managing investment strategies for estate funds to optimize realizations
  • Discovering and tracing missing assets/liabilities

Reviewing and handling estate disbursements

  • Ascertaining, settling, defending, and paying debts

Tax management

  • Personal and corporate Income tax filing
  • Tax planning and minimization strategies

Reporting to stakeholders

  • Comprehensive reporting to stakeholders on the status and ongoing administration of the estate

For more information, contact us or meet our team.

Frequently asked questions about Estate Trustee During Litigation

An ETDL is a court-appointed independent trustee brought in when a will is being formally challenged or when an estate is in litigation. They act as a neutral third party and help facilitate conversation among the parties with the aim to reach an agreement. During this litigation process, they also act in a fiduciary capacity, managing the estate’s assets and affairs.

The role of the ETDL encompasses a range of responsibilities, for example, managing estate assets and liabilities, reviewing/handling disbursements, ascertaining/settling/paying debts, filing income tax returns and assisting with tax planning.

Estates that involve operating businesses add a whole new level of complexity to any ongoing estate dispute. Not all ETDLs have experience working with commercial interests which can become an issue depending on its size and complexity. When considering an ETDL, be sure to inquire about their skills and knowledge in facilitating estates under litigation that have included operating businesses.

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