Couple claims Yukon senior's house was a 'gift', and sue for access

Eighty-year-old Daniele McRae's lawyer says she was misled into signing away her house to social worker Angela Senft and her husband. But the Senfts say the house is theirs, and they want in.

80-year-old Daniele McRae 'did not exercise free, informed thought' in signing away house, says lawyer

Daniele McRae is being sued by social worker Angela Senft and her husband Michael. The Senfts say McRae is barring them entry from the home she legally signed over to them, but McRae's lawyer says the Senfts 'procured and induced' the senior to give up her home without understanding the consequences. (Audrey Vigneau / GoFundMe )

A Yukon social worker and her husband are suing a Dawson City senior for allegedly barring them entry to a home they say she gave them as a "gift."

Eighty-year-old Daniele McRae, meanwhile, says she was misled by the couple into signing away part of the title for her house, in 2009. She now wants the title transfer declared invalid.

The couple, Angela and Michael Senft, did not pay for the house, which is a modified mobile home. But they insist they are now legal owners and McRae must allow them access to the property.   

The senior's refusal amounts to "wrongful interference" with their right to possession, the Senfts claim.

The case was filed before Yukon Supreme Court on Oct. 23. 

None of the Senft's allegations have been tested in court.

'Emotionally vulnerable' senior 

McRae has lived on Lot 12 of the Dome Road in Dawson City since she bought the house with her husband in 1989. 

Her husband Allen McRae died in 2007. 

McRae's statement of defence says she was "in an emotionally vulnerable state" and also required help living alone on the semi-rural property after his death.

According to the statement, McRae then met Angela Senft "in her capacity as a social worker" with the Yukon government. She was later introduced to Senft's husband Michael.

Court documents say the couple befriended McRae, and provided help such as driving her into town on occasion. 

The Senfts also claim they did repairs to McRae's house, and helped with the upkeep — though the value of this help is disputed in court filings.

Within a year of befriending the Senfts, McRae began signing different legal documents. She agreed to include the couple in her will, promising them the house after her death. 

She then granted them power of attorney.

In 2009, McRae signed a transfer giving them legal title to her house.

The Certificate of Title for the property now shows McRae and the Senfts all listed as joint owners of the estate. The Senft's names were added in 2010.  

But McRae's statement of defence says she was "procured and induced" into signing this transfer without getting outside legal advice.

McRae's lawyer says she didn't understand the consequences of signing. 

"In executing the transfer, she did not exercise free, informed thought," reads the statement of defence.

Senior 'rips up' will, but couple says it's too late

McRae has tried to cancel the deal.

She recently ripped up her will before witnesses in Dawson City, then drafted a new will that leaves the Senfts out. 

She has also blocked the couple from the property and told them in a letter that she disagrees with the title transfer.

However, the Senfts maintain the house is also legally theirs, and they're suing for access and also damages. 

According to their statement of claim, the title was a "gift."

The Yukon government directory lists Angela Senft as currently still employed as a social worker in Dawson City.

Crowdfunding in Dawson City

Some residents of Dawson City have taken to crowdfunding to help McRae pay her legal fees. As of Friday, an online campaign had raised more than $2,100.

Audrey Vigneau, who started the campaign, alleges on the GoFundMe page that McRae "is now in a situation of being verbally abused and threatened by these people who claim to be her friends. They want her out of her home and living in McDonald Lodge so they can take possession immediately." 

CBC has not been able to verify these claims.   

CBC attempted to contact the Senfts for comment, but Michael Senft refused, citing the advice of their lawyer. 

No date has been set for the matter to be heard in court.