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Dying intestate or dying without a valid Will can cause problems for those who are left behind. In April 2016, we have heard in the news that the musical artist Prince had died without a Will. The value of Prince’s estate is estimated at over $100 million. Since Prince died without a Will in Minnesota, under the law in that state, if Prince had any living children, his children would inherit the estate. If Prince had no living children, his estate would be divided amongst his siblings.

Similarly, Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin died in June 2016 without a Will, in the state of California. His estate is worth nearly $1.4 million, with additional revenues being generated from the release of the blockbuster movie Star Trek Beyond. To determine who is entitled to a share of Anton Yelchin’s estate, the intestacy laws found in the California Probate Code will dictate who will inherit his assets.

In these cases, neither Prince nor Anton had any say in how their estate was to be distributed.

What would happen if you die without a Will in Ontario?

When a person dies without a Will in Ontario, someone has to apply to the court to be appointed as the estate trustee to administer the deceased estate. The job of an estate trustee is very arduous, and involves a substantial degree of trust, since the person who is appointed will have access and control of all of the assets in the estate.

To protect the estate and the beneficiaries, the Superior Court of Justice often requires the person who is asking to be appointed as estate trustee to post an estate administration bond. The bond is in place to protect the estate while the estate trustee pays the debts of the deceased and distributes the estate to the beneficiaries.

The Court may, on a motion from the estate trustee, order that a bond is not required if it is satisfied that the estate and the beneficiaries are sufficiently protected. The motion must provide the Court with the following:

  • Evidence of who the beneficiaries of the estate are
  • The value of the beneficiaries’ interest in the estate
  • Consents from all beneficiaries to the appointment and to the dispensation of the bond, or an explanation as to how the interests of those beneficiaries are protected
  • Evidence as to whether all the debts of the deceased have been paid
  • The last occupation of the deceased.

If any of the beneficiaries do not consent to the appointment, or do not consent to the dispensation of the administration bond, then the estate must obtain the administration bond from an insurance company. The premiums payable for the bond will depend on the value of the estate, and it is a cost that must be incurred annually until the estate has been administered.

Preparing and filing the motion material to dispense with the administration bond is complicated, as it requires the preparation of a notice of motion, draft order and affidavit evidence. Our firm’s experience in obtaining the certificate of appointment of estate trustee without a Will saves our clients time, grief and hassle. Contact our Wills and Estates Group today.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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