All About Estates

More Tales From the Field

We received a lot of feedback on our Blog last week written by my colleague, Holly Allardyce, about locating estate assets. Readers shared some interesting stories from their experiences as a professional executor about where they have found cash and other assets that their deceased clients hid while they were alive. I have picked a couple of these stories from across the country to share with you.

Tiny Treasured Train Set

Two dedicated Trust Officers from the East Coast were working to clear the contents from a house in order to prepare it for sale. Prior to the property being listed, one of the beneficiaries insisted that the Trust Officers return to the property to find and send to him a toy Lionel Train set that had been missing since his childhood. After hunting high and low in the property, no toy train set could be found. The only remaining possible location to search was a small dirt filled, unlit crawl space in the basement. Understanding the sentimental value of a childhood toy, the Trust Officers knew that they had to check this one final spot. They drew straws. The loser took a deep breath, plunged into the crawl space and came back out record time, with the missing train set in hand. A good ending with a satisfied beneficiary and nominal dry cleaning charge for the trust officer’s suit!

Tracking Down the Tug Boat

Another Trust Officer told us about the time he was assigned to manage the Estate of a client who lived on a remote, heavily forested property on a remote tiny island off Vancouver Island. The Family had advised him that they thought the deceased owned a tug boat. Unfortunately there were no records, bills or key for the tug boat found in the property. The only evidence that a boat may have existed was an old and small copy of a “For Sale” sign pinned on a wall in the property. The Trust Officer took the paper printout and drove around the island going from one marina to another, also stopping and asking many of the of the 1750 people live on the island if they knew about the tug. Eventually someone recognized the picture of the tug boat and directed the Trust Officer to where it was located. Small communities have an alluring quality where everyone knows each other and this certainly helped the Trust Officer as he went door to door looking for clues. Detective work at its best!

Careful With the Cat Litter

The following story comes from a Trust Officer in Edmonton. The deceased was a single lady who lived alone with her cats. When it came time to administer her estate, the first matter for the Trust Officer was to secure the house. This included a diligent search for information and possibly cash. When the Trust Officer found some cash hidden between sheets in the linen closet and in kitchen cabinets and various other places she wanted to make sure she did not miss anything. She wasn’t entirely surprised to find gold coins and gold bars hidden the cat food bags. However, this lead the Trust Officer to the litter boxes, where sure enough she found more gold coins and gold bars. Makes one paws to wonder.

About Paul Fensom
Scotiatrust offers a full range of estate, trust and philanthropic advisory services designed to meet a client’s personal objectives and designed to evolve across a variety of life stages and financial events. Email:


  1. Cecilia

    March 2, 2017 - 3:01 pm

    Great stories… thank you for sharing

  2. Rory Gulka

    March 3, 2017 - 6:17 pm

    When my Grandfather passed away, my Mother and her two Sisters were going through the house and, to no one’s surprise, they found cash in a coffee container in the deep freeze and assorted other places. The best hiding place was the very large “Family Bible” on the mantle. One of the Sister’s grabbed the book by it’s spine … started to walk away and a $50.000 bill fell to the floor and then another and another. Cash was layered all through the book … who would have known???

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