Beneficiaries Ability to Sue Estate – Part 2

A personal representative of an estate is obligated by a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of that estate. This fiduciary duty may sometimes come into conflict with the personal representative’s individual interests as a beneficiary of the estate. The BC Supreme Court dealt with such an issue in the case of Jang v. Jang, 2018 BCSC 1649, wherein the personal representative and primary beneficiary of an estate was sued by the other beneficiaries under s. 151 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act. The Court recognized several failures of the personal representative’s duty, as Mr. Justice Basran stated:

Beneficiaries Ability to Sue Estate

[29]         Douglas is clearly in a conflict of interest.  He is the personal representative of the estate and also its primary beneficiary.  By operation of the right of survivorship, he transferred the Turner Street Property to his name after Mrs. Jang died.  Obviously, any claim against this asset by the other beneficiaries will directly affect his interest in this property.

[30]         Mrs. Jang died on May 22, 2016.  The plaintiffs requested a copy of the Will by letter dated July 13, 2016.  Douglas did not provide it to them until 15 months later on October 23, 2017.  The Will clearly designates the plaintiffs as beneficiaries, and it was entirely unreasonable of Douglas not to advise the plaintiffs of this fact and not provide them with a copy of the Will when it was requested.  By not providing the Will to the plaintiffs in a timely manner, Douglas did not act in accordance with his fiduciary responsibilities and obligations as the personal representative of the estate.

[31]         Douglas has also failed to provide an accounting of the estate’s assets, notwithstanding the July 2016 request that he do so.


Ultimately, the Court allowed the other beneficiaries to sue in the name of the personal representative, under s. 151 of WESA.

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