Last year, a fellow blogger and colleague blogged about “NoticeConnect”, a service to advertise for creditors, which has been thought to be sufficient protection for estate trustees in Ontario. Last month, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the Mills v Dale judgment approved this service as an appropriate method to notify creditors and afforded liability protection under s. 53(1) of the Ontario Trustee Act (“Trustee Act”) to the estate trustee of the Estate of Mrs. Dale.
In accordance with the standard precaution of advertising for creditors before distributing an estate, in order to obtain protection from personal liability under s. 53(1) of the Trustee Act, the estate trustee, Mr. Mills, took an unusual approach and decided to advertise for creditors on NoticeConnect.
Unlike the law in some other provinces, such as British Columbia, the Trustee Act does not specifically outline the method for advertising to be used. As a result, historically, practitioners have conventionally followed a 1907 precedent that suggests advertising in local newspapers where the deceased resided. However, this mode of advertising now proves to be a more expensive and less effective method at reaching creditors than advertising online.
Mr. Mills sought to obtain a definitive ruling on his choice of advertising method and, fortunately for him, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved this service as an appropriate notice to creditors and entitled him to the liability protection provided by s. 53(1) of the Trustee Act.
It is unclear whether this ruling extends to other online services at this time, but as more practitioners begin to use online services, like NoticeConnect, in the future, printed newspaper advertising may eventually be rendered obsolete.