On January 14th, my co-blogger Angelique Moss, wrote about the imprisonment of Barry Landen, one of the Estate Trustees of the Estate of Paul Penna. Angelique examined the rationale behind the ruling in this somewhat unique case.
I noted with interest that Jacquie McNish and Paul Waldie – two award winning business writers, wrote an article about the Penna Estate which appeared in the Globe & Mail on March 5th. This case has clearly hit a nerve as estate matters rarely attract so much publicity.
When Mr. Penna died in August 1996, his $24 million estate was entrusted to his three Estate Trustees: his wife, Mr. Landen and another business colleague. Ten years later, the vast majority of the assets were gone and/or missing. Madame Justice Greer found that Mr. Landen had personally taken estate assets for his own purposes. This, along with his failure to account for any of his actions or where the money had gone, has landed him in jail.
What can we learn from this ? In the book that my colleague Elaine Blades referred to last week ‘The 50 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes, and how to avoid them’ the selection of the wrong executor ranked as one of the top mistakes.
Mr. Landen apparently agrees. When he spoke to the Globe & Mail reporters from the dark recesses of jail he said “don’t name your friends as executors”.
Good advice, despite the source.