It’s been about a week since Doug Ford won the provincial election. Yet it’s not all good news for Mr. Ford.

In fact, on the eve of the election, Renata Ford, the spouse of the late Rob Ford, commenced a civil action against our Premier-designate for breach of trust and conspiracy in connection with his role as the estate trustee of the estate of the late Rob Ford and an officer and director of several Ford family companies.

Renata’s claim is for both declaratory relief and monetary damages. Her claim seeks a declaration that the Premier-designate is in breach of trust (in his capacity as estate trustee for the estates of the late Rob Ford, and the late Doug Ford Sr.); that Mr. Ford and his brother, Randy, as officers and directors of several Ford family companies (including Deco Toronto and Deco Chicago) have conducted business in a manner that is oppressive and unfairly disregards the interests of Renata and her two children; and that Mr. Ford, together with Randy and the Deco companies, conspired to effect and knowingly assist in these breaches of trust.

Renata is seeking monetary damages in excess of $15 million dollars.

In the Statement of Claim itself, Mr. Ford is quoted as allegedly trying to convince Renata to settle Rob Ford’s estate matters without involving any lawyers. At paragraph 17 of the Statement of Claim it is alleged that Mr. Ford stated the following:

“Let’s get rid of the lawyers and settle this on our own. They will only steal your money. You’re going to lose everything in your savings.”

The allegations contained in Renata’s claim against Mr. Ford are not uncommon and as an estate litigator, who sees how costly these fights can be, I can understand the appeal of hoping to resolve estate matters without the involvement of lawyers. That said, the avoidance of retaining strong legal counsel can be ‘penny wise and pound foolish’, resulting in greater ultimate costs or losses.

It will be interesting to see how this case unfolds and how the Premier-designate will defend the allegations.

In the meantime, if you have questions about estates, including wills and trusts, or estate litigation, contact Mills & Mills LLP at 416­-863-0125 or send us an email for more information.

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