Nova Scotia

Halifax mayor under fire as will executor

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly is being questioned about how he handled an elderly Bedford woman's will from seven years ago — at least one beneficiary says it hasn't seen a dime.

CNIB is entitled to about $50,000

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly is being questioned about how he handled an elderly Bedford woman's will from seven years ago — at least one beneficiary says it hasn't seen a dime.

Mary Thibeault died in 2004 and Kelly was named the executor and trustee of her estate valued at more than $500,000, according to court documents.

The story heated up last week after Halifax weekly alternative paper The Coast published the information as its cover story.

For years, Thibeault ran a motel along the Bedford Highway, where an apartment complex now sits.

She died in 2004 at the age of 91 and Thibeault listed 18 beneficiaries in her will, among them Kelly — a friend of the family — who is entitled to five per cent of the estate.

It also lists the Canadian National Institute of the Blind and its share is listed at 10 per cent.

"My understanding is we're entitled to 10 per cent of that will ... it could be around $50,000 and perhaps a little bit more," said Warren Spires, an Atlantic director of fund development for the CNIB.

Some beneficiaries have received some of their money.

Seven years later

But seven years after Thibeault's death, the CNIB said it hasn't seen any of the money and hasn't even been contacted by Kelly. 

"I have to say I can't understand why we would not have been contacted, especially since it dates back to late 2004," said Spires.

At least two beneficiaries have written letters which are on file with the court, to complain about Kelly's handling of the will.

One heir said she is frustrated by what she calls "continual and ongoing procrastination" in settling the estate and "the many questionable actions made by Executor Peter Kelly."

In a 2009 letter on file with the court, Kelly explained the delay is because some beneficiaries have died and he is still gathering their information.

The CNIB said the money it is owed represents about half of its annual fundraising efforts from private sources.

Spires said the CNIB would be contacting Kelly's lawyer to find out where the money is.

"This amount of funding will fund one of our five core programs, our independent living skills program where we go into the houses of people who are blind or partially sighted in Nova Scotia, so this is a tremendous amount of funds for us and for that reason we need to make sure that we do receive those funds and sooner than later," Spires said.

At this point, Spires said the CNIB does not plan to apply to the court to have Kelly removed from the estate, which it has the right to do under the law.

"I'd like to think there's a logical ... reason for why there has been a holdup. I'm not sure why that is, but we're certainly going to find out, we have to find out  for the best interest of our many clients and stakeholders across the province," he said.

Kelly wouldn't answer questions Monday about his handling of the estate.

Through his secretary he told CBC News Monday that it's a personal matter and directed questions to his lawyer, who was out of the office and unavailable.