TD Canada Trust backs down, releases family's $846K inheritance

1 / 3
Why old-fashioned bank drafts could leave you on the hook for big bucks

TD Canada Trust has apologized to an Ontario family and released more than $846,000, hours after CBC News reported that their original bank draft had been lost by UPS. 

"We understand that we've reached a resolution with our customer," bank spokeswoman Cheryl Ficker told CBC News via email. 

"It's clear to us we didn't get this right along the way and that there was more we could have done to come to a resolution faster." 

Lorette Taylor confirmed the new bank draft is with her family's lawyer. "It looks like the matter will be settled," she said.

Taylor and her husband John had been involved in a lengthy, three-way David vs. Goliaths battle after courier company UPS lost the first draft and TD — which had issued it — appeared to be in no rush to issue a new one. 

"It was a total surprise" Lorette said earlier this week about the ordeal. "Never in my wildest imagination did I think something like this would happen."

She and John said they were at their wit's end trying to recover the money.

It all started last February when Taylor was finalizing details of her father's will. She was tasked with disbursing the inheritances to her sister and brother.

She and John went to their local TD Canada Trust branch, on Brant Street in Burlington, Ont., to get certified cheques.

"They said a bank draft was more appropriate," for that amount of money, Taylor said. 

The couple say they also asked bank staff what kind of provisions were in place in the unlikely event the draft was lost or stolen.

"I was told there were procedures to deal with that," John said. He added they were told they would just, "fill out some documentation and a new draft would be issued."

Now, almost 10 months later, the family is still waiting for their money.

Last seen in Concord

The $846,648.46 was for Lorette's brother, Louis Paul Hebert, who lives outside Cornwall, Ont. — some 440 kilometres from the family's lawyer's office in Georgetown. He hired UPS to ship the bank draft to a nearby UPS store.

"I'm waiting at the UPS store, around 3 p.m. because that's when they said the guys came in, nothing shows up" he told CBC News. "I came back in the evening. Nothing shows up… and I'm wondering 'What's happened to my inheritance?'"

Hebert called UPS.

Documents provided by the family show UPS picked up the bank draft as planned. The envelope made it to the UPS distribution centre on Steeles Avenue West in Concord, north of Toronto.

After that, no one knows what happened to it. 

"I should have just driven [to the lawyer's office]. It's something I kick myself in the rear over everyday," Hebert said.

UPS spokeswoman Nirali Raval declined to answer specific questions from CBC Toronto. But in an email she wrote, "While UPS' service is excellent in our industry, we are unfortunately not perfect. Occasionally, the loss of a package does occur."

Raval added: "Our records indicate that our team followed UPS protocol and an exhaustive search for this package was completed by our Operations and Security teams. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate the package."

UPS refunded the $32 it charged Hebert to ship the bank draft. UPS also sent him a letter apologizing, "for any inconvenience."

As Hebert put it, "That's nice of them to say, but it doesn't solve my problems."

'Unbelievable frustration'

Lorette says there's been, "many a night of lost sleep, and gnashing of teeth and anger. Frustration, unbelievable frustration."

In February — less than two weeks after UPS lost the bank draft — a TD branch representative emailed the Taylors to assure them, "there is a process for cancelling the draft."

But two days later, the bank said they would only get their money if they signed an indemnity agreement. Essentially, the bank wanted to hold Lorette — the executor of her father's estate — liable for life if the draft was cashed illegally.

"It also said that if something happened to me, for example, my children and my heirs and my spouse and my executor would have to pay this debt," she said. "Well, I didn't really want to sign this."

But with no other option, she did. 

Then, she says, TD Canada Trust ignored the agreement.

"They never paid anyone a dime," she said. 

In fact the bank came back with even more demands. It wanted to put a lien on the Taylors' home or force the family to buy GICs in the full amount of the bank draft. The lien or GICs would have to be in place for at least three years.  

The Taylors say all of the onus to protect the bank would have been put on them; 40-year customers of the bank.

​Lorette refused.

"If the bank really wants indemnity," she says, "then UPS should sign it."

TD Canada Trust declined to answer specific questions from CBC News. But in an email spokeswoman Cheryl Ficker wrote: "Bank drafts do not expire, and once the draft is issued, the funds are guaranteed for payment. They should be treated as though they are cash.

"In situations where a bank draft is lost or stolen, before we can agree to a replacement or reimbursement we need appropriate security to be in place. Examples of security requirements could include an Indemnity Agreement signed by the parties involved and a surety bond or GIC held for a period of three years," she added. 

However, Thursday afternoon the bank said will no longer require the family to put up collateral against the new bank draft. The bank has asked Taylor sign an indemnity agreement that will expire in February 2019.

Still in TD account

In the 10 months since the draft was originally issued, Hebert hadn't received a penny of his money.  

"TD has the money" he said earlier. "The money is actually sitting in an account with TD. Nothing has been stolen. It's there. That's my inheritance."

Hebert, 61, said he was facing financial insecurity. He said his credit cards are maxed out and he has no source of income.

"I would have been debt free. My money would have been invested" he said. "I would have been retired."

Hebert called the situation "a screw up, a massive screw up where the big guys look after themselves."

CBC News has been told by his relatives Hebert is aware his money will finally be released. Hebert is driving to Toronto and was unable to comment.