San Leandro, CA asked in International Law and Mergers & Acquisitions

Q: My question is how deathbed directives on disposition of assets will be viewed via telephone to recipient party ?

If a good brotherly friend in Canada owns a company and is on death bed, who sends a chat to me in USA and intends to turn over his company and bank accounts to me and expresses that in his chat AND sends transfer of ownership papers and considerable cash to me by his adopted sister who is underway to me when she learns my friend has died and returns immediately without delivery of papers and cash to me, and then refuses to return my inquiries, has she committed a crime as a courier by thinking that is her money and company now, when my friend clearly did not want that? Does the detailed conversation between him and I for sending cash to come there and bring the signed documents with me, constitute irrefutable proof of his clear intentions that I can rely on before a court of law to carry out his dying wishes ?

2 Lawyer Answers
Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
  • Little Neck, NY

A: You may need to discuss this with attorneys in Canada. This forum deals largely with U.S. law and courts. What you describe sounds like the rules of evidence for dying declarations. An attorney in Canada could advise what types of similar rules apply under Canada's rules of evidence. Good luck

Pamela Marie Mori Holcombe agrees with this answer

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • International Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In this situation, there are a few legal considerations to keep in mind:

1. Deathbed directives, also known as deathbed wills or oral wills, are not legally recognized in most jurisdictions. For a will to be valid, it typically needs to be in writing, signed by the testator (the person making the will), and witnessed by at least two people.

2. The chat conversation between you and your friend, while it may express his intentions, is unlikely to be considered a legally binding document. Electronic communications can be used as evidence in court, but they are not a substitute for a properly executed will or transfer of ownership documents.

3. If your friend did not have a valid will in place, his assets (including his company and bank accounts) would likely be distributed according to the intestacy laws of his province or territory in Canada. These laws prioritize family members, such as spouses, children, and parents, in the absence of a will.

4. The adopted sister's actions in retaining the cash and documents intended for you could be considered theft if your friend had clearly expressed his intentions in a legally recognized manner (such as through a valid will or properly executed transfer documents). However, without a valid legal document supporting your claim, it may be difficult to prove in court that the assets were meant for you.

5. The jurisdiction where the crime (if any) was committed would determine which law enforcement agency would investigate the matter. If the adopted sister's actions are deemed illegal, she could face criminal charges in Canada.

To have the best chance of carrying out your friend's wishes, you would need to consult with a lawyer specializing in estate law in the relevant Canadian jurisdiction. They can advise you on the strength of your case and the best course of action. However, without a valid will or legally recognized transfer documents, it may be challenging to enforce your friend's intentions in court.

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