Gift of House Upheld Trust

Gift of House Upheld Trust

Franklin v Cooper 2016 BCCA 447 upheld a decision of the Supreme Court that the presumption of resulting trust applied and that the defendant daughter who received gift of house by her mother in joint tenancy, instead held the house in trust for the estate of their mother.

The facts found by the court of appeal were:

In 1989, the deceased transferred title to her home to herself and Ms. Cooper as joint tenants. The deceased died on June 30, 2012, and Ms. Cooper took sole title to the property by survivorship. Ms. Cooper took the position that the 1989 transfer was under an agreement. She claimed that it was in consideration of expenses Ms. Cooper had paid for in the past, and also in consideration of a promise to pay for expenses in the future. Ms. Cooper says that she agreed to support her mother, and to ensure that she was never placed in a nursing home.

[3] Ms. Franklin denied the existence of any such agreement. She contended that her mother’s decision to place the property in joint title was primarily to prevent her mother from being defrauded into transferring title away to a third party. She gave evidence to the effect that she had been offered the opportunity to go on title, herself, but that the offer was contingent upon her dissolving her marriage, as her mother also wanted to ensure that Ms. Franklin’s husband would not gain any matrimonial interest in the property.

[4] There were a number of issues at trial. The trial judge ultimately found that the 1989 agreement contended for by Ms. Cooper did not exist. She found the transfer of the home into joint tenancy to be a gratuitous transfer, and applied Pecore v. Pecore, [2007] 1 S.C.R. 795, holding that there was a presumption that the transfer was not a gift, and that Ms. Cooper held her interest in trust for her mother during her mother’s life, and now holds it in trust for her mother’s estate.

[5] The judge recognized that the issues before her turned largely on findings of credibility:

[6] The evidence of Ms. Franklin and Ms. Cooper is conflicting in virtually every aspect. Both present diametrically opposing pictures of their mother’s life, her needs and wants, and their relationships with their mother and each other. Accordingly, the resolution of this case will depend largely on findings of credibility.

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