Spousal Support & Alimony

Is $122,000 a Month in Interim Support Excessive?

Written by Russell Alexander ria@russellalexander.com / (905) 655-6335

In a blog last week, I wrote about the recent decision in Zavet v. Herzog, which was essentially an Estates matter where the key “players” were:  1) Sam, the now-deceased successful real estate developer worth at least $200  million; 2) his Estate Trustee, who was his wife Dianne from whom Sam had been separated for over two decades; and 3) Alona, his longtime girlfriend.

Sam had not made provision for Alona in his Will, so she was bringing various claims against his Estate.

The matter was in the very preliminary stages, mainly because evaluating Sam’s extensive investments, corporate holdings, and sizeable assets was going to take a great deal of financial leg-work.  To tide her over until that work was complete, Alona had already been given $900,000, and her expenses for cellphone, health insurance, car insurance and gas were being paid directly by the Estate.

Still, Alona launched a motion asking the court to award her interim support from Sam’s Estate, pending the full hearing of her application for support as a “dependent” under the provincial Succession Law Reform Act.  (This legislation allows a dependent to apply for support from a deceased’s Estate in cases where the deceased has not made adequate provisions for the proper support of that dependent.  The test is whether Alona “is in need of and entitled to support.”)

Dianne, in her role of the Estate Trustee, opposed the amount of interim support Alona was requesting, claiming that it was “unrealistic and unreliable.”

The court agreed.  It ultimately rejected Alona’s budget entirely, stating that “[b]esides being inaccurate and overstated, it is unsubstantiated. It is not an accurate estimation of her needs pending return of the [dependent’s support] Application, many of which, in my view, have already been provided for.”

As the court explained:

In my view, Alona’s motion for interim support is premised on the basis that the Estate has lots of money and she is entitled to continue to live the lifestyle that she says she and Sam were living before his illness. …

As a result, I consider Alona’s budget to be of no assistance. In addition, I do not consider it to be an accurate reflection of her actual monthly expenses. Alona has little to no experience in managing money or preparing budgets. She stated in cross-examination that she kept no personal or financial records. The budget was composed by her without any reference to any specific documentation. She initially produced very few records. Although requested, she brought no documentation to her cross-examination. …

Noting that Alona’s documents were disorganized and didn’t “come close” to substantiating her budget numbers, the court concluded they were “grossly overstated.”  It gave the following illustrations:

–         $5,000 per month for groceries; $13,200 per month for meals outside the home; $2,500 a month for a private chef; and $4,000 a month for her Four Seasons account which includes mainly in-room dining (in excess of $20,000 a month for food);

–         $1,700 per month for pet care. The only pet living at the Condo is [her son’s] dog which Alona says is really the family dog. It been living with [her son] since 2011;

–         $700 a month for public transit and taxis and $4,000 a month for a driver although she owns a 2014 California Ferrari and a 2017 Bentley Bentayga;

–         $31,250 per month for clothing, purses and shoes;

–         $2,500 a month for eye care (contact lenses, sunglasses and reading glasses);

–          $3,000 a month for charities.

The court noted Alona was also unable to show how she had spent the initial $900,000 that she had already received since Sam’s death.

Nonetheless, the court did acknowledge that Alona was entitled to a further monthly amount to meet her needs pending the hearing of the larger Estates applications.  It awarded her $30,000 per month for this purpose – an amount that was admittedly “somewhat arbitrary”, but one that was based on some of the documented expenses Alona was able to submit.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Zavet v. Herzog

 

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the founder of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers and is the firm’s senior partner. At Russell Alexander, our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues, including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. We have locations in Toronto, Markham, Whitby (Brooklin), Lindsay, and Peterborough.

For more information, visit our website, or you can call us at: 905-655-6335.