As a beneficiary under a will, what's involved in requesting an estate bond?
My father named my brother as his executor. My brother and I are estranged from each other; we haven’t spoken for 10 years. I'm worried he’s not going to follow Dad’s wishes and will just do what he wants with the assets. I’ve heard you can ask the court for a bond to secure the estate’s assets and make sure the executor does their job properly.
Under BC law, a person interested in an estate can apply to court to require the executor to provide an estate bond. An estate bond is a security deposited with the court. Such a bond can be obtained from a bonding company. The company requires an annual charge (similar to an insurance premium) for providing the bond.
If the executor fails to perform their duties, they’ll be on the hook to pay to the bonding company the full amount of the bond. In the meantime, the bond money held by the court can be used to pay beneficiaries and creditors. This acts like an insurance policy, protecting the estate assets in the event the executor turns bad, so to speak.
If the will says the executor must obtain an estate bond, then they’re compelled to do so. Otherwise, the court won’t grant probate to them and they won’t be able to take control of the estate assets. If the will does not instruct the executor to get a bond, it can be challenging to convince a court to require one.
You should know: annual bond fees are expensive and are charged against the estate. So getting a bond reduces the pot of money that’s available to beneficiaries.
Where you (as a beneficiary) are concerned with the will-maker’s choice of executor because you’re estranged from that person, there are likely better options than seeking a bond. Each estate is different. In these circumstances, it may make more sense to apply for an order replacing the executor or, as an alternative, for an order to be appointed as a co-executor.
Alert: upcoming webinar on dealing with a problem executor!
At a webinar on December 6, 2022, lawyers Amy Mortimore and Zachary Rogers will answer common questions about dealing with a problem executor. Register now.