All About Estates

Court Awards Punitive Damages Against a Former Estate Trustee

In a recent decision, the court awarded punitive damages against a former estate trustee who had ignored a number of court orders requiring her to account.

In 2002, the estate trustee (“Lorali”) was appointed a co-estate trustee of her late mother’s estate (the “Deceased“). Subsequently, her co-estate trustee died in 2013, leaving her the sole estate trustee. Pursuant to the terms of the Deceased’s Will, the estate trustees were directed to buy a home and fund related expenses for the benefit of the Deceased’s son, Robert. The Will stipulated that when Robert died, the property was to be sold and the proceeds gifted in equal shares to the Deceased’s living grandchildren when they reached the age of 21.  However, when Robert died in July 2022, the property was not sold. The majority of the estate’s beneficiaries (the “Moving Parties“) moved to have Lorali removed as estate trustee and she was removed in December 2022.

Following her removal, Lorali did not comply with a number of court orders requiring her to account for her 20-year administration of the Deceased’s estate.  The Moving Parties brought a motion seeking damages for various fiduciary breaches as well as punitive damages for failing to comply with multiple court orders. Lorali did not reply to the motion and was not present at the motion.

In addition to other damages, the Moving Parties sought $100,000 in punitive damages from Lorali.  While noting that punitive damages awards are rare and only awarded in the most egregious of circumstances, the court awarded $50,000 in punitive damages to the Moving Parties.

The court found that in this case, punitive damages were warranted, in part,

  • Lorali had failed to communicate with the estate’s beneficiaries over the 20 years she administered the estate;
  • the grandchildren (minors during most of the estate’s administration) were vulnerable beneficiaries;
  • the estate trustee’s failure to comply with three court orders; and
  • the estate trustee’s failure to turn over documentation that was in her possession despite court orders.

Additionally, the court awarded the Moving Parties full indemnity costs.


About Diane Vieira
Diane has practiced in the area of estate, trust and capacity litigation since she was called to the Ontario Bar in 2006. Diane obtained her law degree from Queen’s University after completing an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto. She received the Certificate in Elder Law from Osgoode Hall Law School. She is a member of the Ontario Bar Association and the Toronto Lawyers Association. Diane has chaired various continuing legal education programs regarding estate, trust and capacity matters. She can be reached at More of Diane's blogs can be found at


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