Now you see it, now you don’t (Legal view)

Why a Veterans Affairs staffer wasn’t allowed to keep $5,000, then was, then wasn’t again
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/19/2006

When Maria Orn was on her death bed in Alberta in the summer of 2001, she decided she wanted to do something special. Orn, a widow and a veteran of the Second World War, had no children. Her husband, also a veteran, had already passed away. Therefore, there was no logical heir to her estate.

So she phoned her lawyer and decided to make some changes to her will, divvying up $100,000 between a charity, some friends and a stranger who had helped her out years ago.

That stranger was Daniel Assh, a lawyer who worked as a pensions advocate for Veterans Affairs in Edmonton. He must have been as surprised as anyone when he received a voice mail in August, stating that Orn had passed away and had left him a $5,000 bequest as a token of appreciation for his assistance in helping her obtain benefits from Veterans Affairs between 1993 and 1996. After all, Assh hadn’t kept in touch with Orn. He never asked to be included in her will and hadn’t been in contact with her for more than five years.