Q. I am an elderly reader of your column and have come across a very disturbing situation with a condo that I was scheduled to purchase this month. I had signed what I thought was a perfectly good Agreement of Purchase and Sale to buy a moderately priced ground floor condo which I had planned on living in until such time as I needed assisted living or passed beyond that need. I now understand that the vendor has died by suicide, left a will in Quebec where she was living and the transaction is tied up because the notary in Quebec has advised that nothing can be done to with the property until they get matters straightened out.
A. I usually say to my readers that I encounter this issue quite frequently but I can’t in this instance.
The first issue you have is that the situation is very complex. I assume that the notary has some issue with the actual will. If someone is suicidal there is a screaming question as the mental capability of the person to compose a will (it was handwritten). The notary is stating that nothing should be done with the property because it has not been determined who has the capacity to deal with the property. Normally, the executor can deal with property once appointed as the estate executor. However, this process is in question and usually takes at least a couple of months.
Our faithful writer then thought that perhaps she could rent the unit while they get legal matters straightened out. The problem there is again, who has the ability to sign a binding lease for our elderly client. The last thing one would want is for her to move in and then six months later when the dust settles to find herself without a proper lease and no rights with respect to the property.
The reality of the situation is that we would advise our client to look for alternate accommodations and perhaps something will clarify in the near future and we can rectify the offer and get her into the condo unit. Time will tell.
– Jeffrey Cowan is the principal with Cowan Taylor and McGee, Barristers & Solicitors. The information in this article should not be relied upon as legal advice.