Tower Estate v. Grant et al., (2012) 384 N.B.R.(2d) 389 (CA)

Judge:Turnbull, Bell and Green, JJ.A.
Court:Court of Appeal of New Brunswick
Case Date:March 08, 2012
Jurisdiction:New Brunswick
Citations:(2012), 384 N.B.R.(2d) 389 (CA);2012 NBCA 27
 
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Tower Estate v. Grant (2012), 384 N.B.R.(2d) 389 (CA);

    384 R.N.-B.(2e) 389; 995 A.P.R. 389

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[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

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Temp. Cite: [2012] N.B.R.(2d) TBEd. MR.022

Renvoi temp.: [2012] N.B.R.(2d) TBEd. MR.022

Herbert Harold Tower, Cedric Anthony Joseph Tower, Travis Jordan Tower, Administrators of the Estate of Cedric Bamford Tower, deceased (appellants) v. Glenda Marie Estabrooks, Administrator of the Estate of Cedric Bamford Tower, deceased, Shirley Ann Grant (respondents)

(6-11-CA; 2012 NBCA 27)

Indexed As: Tower Estate v. Grant et al.

Répertorié: Tower Estate v. Grant et al.

New Brunswick Court of Appeal

Turnbull, Bell and Green, JJ.A.

March 8, 2012.

Summary:

Résumé:

Spouses divorced in 1995 after 34 years' marriage. The husband died intestate in 2004, without having revoked his designation of his wife as beneficiary under the Public Service Superannuation Act. The wife received $180,000 in death benefits and pension benefits. The administrators of the husband's estate claimed that the wife was not entitled to the benefits because she had renounced all claims to his estate in a separation agreement and that she held the benefits on a constructive trust based on unjust enrichment.

The New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench, Trial Division, in a judgment reported (2010), 366 N.B.R.(2d) 363; 942 A.P.R. 363, held that the wife was entitled to the benefits. The beneficiary designation was not revoked. Since the Act was a complete code, a designation could only be revoked under the Act's procedure. A separation agreement renouncing each spouses' claim against the other's estate could not revoke the designation. Further, there was no constructive trust based on unjust enrichment, as the beneficiary designation constituted a juristic reason for the wife's receipt of the benefits. The administrators of the husband's estate appealed.

The New Brunswick Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Absent a revocation of the designation under the provisions of the Act, the wife was entitled under the Act and its Regulations to the benefits. Although it was unnecessary for the trial judge to carry out an "unjust enrichment" analysis, the wife's entitlement to the benefits under the Act and Regulations was a sufficient juristic reason for the enrichment.

Master and Servant - Topic 1957

Remuneration - Pension or retirement benefits - Designation of beneficiary - Setting aside or revocation - Spouses divorced in 1995 after 34 years' marriage - The husband died intestate in 2004, without having revoked his designation of his wife as beneficiary under the Public Service Superannuation Act - The wife received $180,000 in death benefits and pension benefits - The administrators of the husband's estate claimed that the wife was not entitled to the benefits because she had renounced all claims to his estate in a separation agreement and that she held the benefits on a constructive trust - The trial judge held that the wife was entitled to the benefits - The beneficiary designation was not revoked, even though the husband was given notice in each year's statement respecting how to change the beneficiary - Since the Act was a complete code, a designation could only be revoked under the Act's procedure - A separation agreement renouncing each spouses' claim against the other's estate could not revoke the designation - There was no constructive trust, as the beneficiary designation constituted a juristic reason for the wife's receipt of the benefits - The New Brunswick Court of Appeal dismissed the administrators' appeal - Absent a revocation of the designation under the provisions of the Act, the wife was entitled under the Act and its Regulations to the benefits - Although it was unnecessary for the trial judge to carry out an "unjust enrichment" analysis, the wife's entitlement to the benefits under the Act and Regulations was a sufficient juristic reason for the enrichment.

Trusts - Topic 2346

Constructive trusts - Basis for imposition - Unjust enrichment - [See Master and Servant - Topic 1957 ].

Employeurs et employés - Cote 1957

Rémunération - Pensions ou prestations de retraite - Désignation de bénéficiaire - Annulation ou révocation - [Voir Master and Servant - Topic 1957 ].

Fiducies - Cote 2346

Fiducies constructoires - Fondement pour leur application - Enrichissement sans cause - [Voir Trusts - Topic 2346 ].

Cases Noticed:

Martindale Estate v. Martindale et al. (1998), 109 B.C.A.C. 97; 177 W.A.C. 97 (C.A.), dist. [para. 13].

Gagnon v. Sussey, [1994] O.J. No. 682 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 16].

Ferguson Estate v. Mew et al. (2009), 250 O.A.C. 146; 2009 ONCA 403, dist. [para. 19].

Counsel:

Avocats:

Gregory E. Murphy, Q.C., for the appellants;

Richard E. DeBow, Q.C., for the respondent, Shirley Ann Grant;

Glenda Marie Estabrooks, respondent, did not appear.

This appeal was heard on November 30, 2011, before Turnbull, Bell and Green, JJ.A., of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

On March 8, 2012, the following judgment was delivered in both official languages for the Court by Turnbull, J.A.

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