Five heirs to the Mary Thibeault estate have asked the probate court to remove Halifax mayor Peter Kelly as the estate’s executor. The five have signed an affidavit accusing Kelly of mishandling the estate, including withholding information to the heirs, “mistruths told” and repeated failures to meet the requirements of the Probate Act. The heirs also imply that Kelly improperly transferred over $180,000 from the estate to himself.
As of press time, Kelly has not returned a call for comment.
The Coast detailed many of the same issues in our February 16 expose, “A trust betrayed,” which detailed Kelly’s mishandling of Thibeault’s affairs. Thibeault died in 2004, and as she requested, Kelly was appointed executor of her estate by the court in early 2005, but over the intervening seven years there has not been a full accounting of her money and property, and still some of Thibeault’s 18 heirs have not received their inheritances. Six days after our story was published, Kelly announced he would not run for reelection. In the four months since, Kelly still has taken no action to resolve the the estate, and the heirs say that a deadline is looming for destruction of records.
“We beneficiaries have great concerns regarding the accounting of this estate,” write the heirs in their affidavit to the court. “We feel we have been more than patient and the the continual procrastination by the Executor”—mayor Kelly—”is going to make it next to impossible for true accounting of the estate. The constant procrastination of the Executor and our concerns regarding the accounting of the estate leaves us no alternative but to seek removal of Executor Peter Kelly. We are asking the Probate Court to exercise whatever means there are to prevent the destruction of the bank records as we believe they are critical to the settling of the Estate.”
Mary Thibeault’s bank records can be legally destroyed seven years after the last transaction from her accounts—which was August 19, 2005, when Peter Kelly transferred $121.587.13 from Thibeault’s account to an account he controlled. Seven years later will be this coming August 19.
The affidavit calling for Kelly’s removal as executor is signed by heirs Gregory Oldfield, Elizabeth Herritt, Catherine Ivany, Raymond Ivany and Phillis Brunt, all of the Halifax area. To support their argument that Kelly should be removed as executor, the five heirs make several points, each supported with extensive documentation, including:
Time Thibeault died on December 7, 2004. More than seven years and seven months later, the estate has not been settled.
Lack of reporting “Despite numerous requests to Executor Peter Kelly,” reads the affidavit, “information either not provided or mistruths told.”
Inventory No itemized inventory of Thibeault’s estate has been provided, as required by the Probate Act.
Transfers to Kelly The heirs itemize $155,000 in cheques written from Thibeault’s bank account to Kelly and his son, presented to the bank after Thibeault’s death. They also itemize five cheques totalling $25,000 written to Kelly, which seems to be represented as Kelly’s share of the estate. Additionally, the heirs list a June 28, 2006 cheque written to “cash” for $3,423.60 “described as ‘trailer rent’,” and a second cheque dated November 18, 2007 for $3,000, “described as trailer rent—$2,571.29 US Funds.”
*Willful default” Despite Kelly’s claims that cheques were written to pay for trailer rent, the heirs claim that the estate lost the value of a mobile home Thibeault owned in Florida because Kelly did not make rental payments for it.
Kearney Lake land As the Coast detailed in a March 24, 2011 article (“Peter Kelly’s failure of will”), Thibeault owned a small property behind Kearney Lake.
“That land is being donated to the municipality for parkland,” Kelly told us at the time. “When I spoke to the lawyer, it’s in the process of being done, so there’s no—it’s going to go to the municipality as parkland. It’s going to them. It was always the intent to go to them in memory of [Mary Thibeault] and that’s in the process of being done.”
But, say the heirs in their affidavit asking for Kelly’s removal, “none of we beneficiaries have been notified of anything regarding the land.” City officials confirmed this week that no parkland donation has been made from the Thibeault estate, or by Kelly.
Thibeault’s US funds The Coast has learned that Thibeault had both US and Canadian citizenship, and her death certificate cites a US Social Security number. In their letter asking for Kelly’s removal, the five heirs say they have received no communication regarding “Social Security payments to Mary Thibeault or if the IRS has been contacted regarding taxes she may owe or any over payments she may have received.”
The heirs’ statements in the affidavit have not been proven in court, and Kelly has 30 days to respond to them. The court has scheduled a September 19 hearing over the matter.
Heirs want mayor Peter Kelly removed
Some of Mary Thibeault’s heirs are asking the court to take action because estate executor Kelly hasn’t.
June 20, 2012
Heirs want Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly axed as executor
June 20, 2012
The Chronicle Herald
Five of Mary Thibeault’s heirs have asked Nova Scotia’s probate court to remove Peter Kelly as executor amid allegations he took more than $175,000 from the woman’s will and has yet to settle the estate seven years after her death.
Two others named in the estate also contacted the court to support their counterparts’ move, saying the Halifax mayor’s “continued procrastination and questionable actions” have left them no alternative.
Kelly’s exact role in the disbursement of the Bedford woman’s assets has yet to come before the courts. But on Feb. 22, days after the Coast published allegations that the mayor took more than $145,000 from Thibeault’s estate, the veteran politician announced he would not run again for office in October.
And in a letter that’s since been filed with the court, Kelly’s lawyer said the mayor would refund that sum to the estate if all the beneficiaries agreed to keep it secret.
The relationship between Thibeault and Kelly stretches more than 30 years. She depended on him throughout her life after they met during his boyhood. In death, too, she trusted him, naming him executor of her estate and one of 18 beneficiaries. He is entitled to five per cent of her net worth, which, if the accounts he provided to the court are accurate, would leave him with about $25,000 and a claim on expenses for the settling of the will.
But five beneficiaries claim Kelly took more than $175,000 from the estate, the lion’s share of which was never recorded when he filed an inventory of assets with the court in August 2005.
Heirs Greg Oldfield, Elizabeth Herritt, Catherine Ivany and Raymond Ivany could not be reached for comment and Phyllis Brunt did not want to say anything.
But their lawyer, Lloyd Robbins, wrote to Kelly’s lawyer in March 2011, tracing the path of the supposedly missing funds. Photocopied cheques and bank statements are in the court file.
“Memories are fading and bank records from before (Thibeault) died are no longer available,” Robbins wrote in a letter to Harry Thompson. “One has to wonder, given the issues that I have found, whether in fact that was Mr. Kelly’s rationale for not proceeding.”
What Robbins found was that on Oct. 25, 2004, about six weeks before she died, Thibeault signed three blank cheques, which were later filled out to Kelly in the amount of $100,000 and to his sons in the amount of $15,000 each, the letter says.
“At the time that (Thibeault) allegedly wrote these cheques, she only had about $50,000 in the bank,” Robbins wrote. “Knowing Mary and what I would politely (call) her ‘frugalness,’ I am surprised she would give such large gifts.”
The cheques were cashed on April 15, 2005, two weeks after someone redeemed a $100,000 guaranteed investment certificate, according to bank statements in the court file. But Robbins’ questioning of the cheques went further than Kelly’s entitlement to the money, as he implied the GIC may have been redeemed before maturity because the cheques were six months old and about to expire.
Either way, the bank didn’t honour the only two cheques it received. And someone later transferred $121,587.13 from Thibeault’s account, bank statements show.
“You advised me that this sum is made up of the $100,000 and replacement of one of the $15,000 cheques,” Robbins wrote to Thompson last year. “The balance is supposedly reimbursement for expenses.”
Kelly then wrote a $30,000 cheque to himself in May 2005 to replace the other two valued at $15,000 each, Robbins said. (The mayor later wrote himself another five cheques worth a combined $25,000.)
At that point, he had not filed an inventory of the estate’s value. On Aug. 19, 2005, he listed it as $503,730.73.
The heirs, however, believe the estate should be worth much more, saying Thibeault’s records in July 1999 showed her GIC would have been worth $743,492.76 in five years’ time.
Several beneficiaries also told Robbins that Thibeault used to keep about $60,000 in cash nearby, the lawyer said in his letter.
“It is not on the inventory, and when (Kelly) has been asked, he says he did not find an envelope,” Robbins wrote. “Unfortunately, given his conduct, the beneficiaries and my clients are having difficulty accepting his word.”
Thibeault died Dec. 7, 2004. Although some of her heirs have received $25,000, at least two died waiting for the accounts to be settled.
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind only received its share — $50,000 — last month, a spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.
“The amount of time that’s passed, as well as the date of destruction of the bank records looming in August 2012, are of the utmost concern,” the five heirs wrote in an affidavit.
Kelly could not be reached for comment.
A probate hearing is to be held on Sept. 19.