A will that was contrary to public interest

Old coin

Old coinA while ago, there was a lot in the news about a will that was being contested because it was contrary to public interest. In a nutshell, Robert McCorkill had willed his coin and artifact collection valued at $250,000 to the National Alliance, an American white supremacist organization, before he died in Saint John in 2004. His sister challenged the will and was successful last year, and a few weeks ago, the court of appeal upheld that decision.

In the original ruling, the judge found that the views of the National Alliance were “disgusting, repugnant and revolting” and therefore it would be contrary to public interest to allow the gift to proceed. The National Alliance appealed, and lost.

It is quite rare for a will to be stricken down on public policy grounds. In Ontario, you have full testamentary freedom to leave your estate to whomever you want. However, there is an exception in the law where the courts can prevent you from leaving a gift that would be contrary to public policy; in this case, the court found that funding a hate group would be clearly contrary to public policy, and so voided the gift.