Can a third defendant purchase the estate property of a deceased's estate?

Nova Scotia, Canada

The following excerpt is from Price Waterhouse v. MacCulloch, 1986 CanLII 3975 (NS SC):

The rule that a trustee cannot purchase estate property did not apply in Holder v. Holder et al., [1968] 1 All E.R. 665, because of the special circumstances in that case where the purchaser never assumed the duties of executor which he had endeavoured to renounce and the sale was open to bids. Harman L.J. stated at p. 671: It was admitted at the Bar in the court below that the acts of the third defendant were enough to constitute intermeddling with the estate and that his renunciation was ineffective. On this footing he remained a personal representative even after probate had been granted to his co-executors and could have been obliged by a creditor or a beneficiary to re-assume the duties of an executor. The judge decided in favour of the plaintiff on this point because the third defendant at the time of the sale was himself still in a fiduciary position and, like any other trustee, could not purchase the trust property. I feel the force of this argument, but doubt its validity in the very special circumstances of this case. The reason for the rule is that a man may not be both vendor and purchaser; but the third defendant was never in that position here. He took no part in instructing the valuer who fixed the reserves or in the preparations for the auction. Everyone in the family knew that he was not a seller but a buyer. In this case the third defendant never assumed the duties of an executor. It is true that he concurred in signing a few cheques for trivial sums and endorsing a few insurance policies, but he never so far as appears interfered in any way with the administration of the estate. It is true he managed the farms, but he did that as tenant and not as executor. He acquired no special knowledge as executor. What he knew he knew as tenant of the farms. Another reason lying behind the rule is that there must never be a conflict of duty and interest, but in fact there was none here in the case of the third defendant, who made no secret throughout that he intended to buy. There is of course ample authority that a trustee cannot purchase.

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