Probate Bond

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What is a “Probate Bond”?

When a person becomes deceased without a valid will, their belongings will be distributed according to the state probate process.  During probate, the court may appoint an executor or administrator to help with the property distribution process.  This person is sometimes required to post a “probate bond” with the court.

The purpose of a probate bond is to ensure that the executor will fulfill their duties according to the state probate and estate laws.  This includes properly identifying the estate property, naming potential beneficiaries, and dealing with any leftover property debt.  In short, the probate bond helps ensure that the executor/administrator won’t simply run off with the deceased person’s property. 

Are There Different Types of Probate Bonds?

Probate bonds may also be called by other names, depending on who it is being required for.  For instance, if the estate also involves a guardian of the estate, the probate bond may be called a “guardian bond”.  There are therefore other bonds like conservator bonds, trustee bonds, administrator bonds, etc.

What Types of Protection Does a Probate Bond Grant?

Thus, a probate bond provides protection for the true heirs and beneficiaries to the estate.  It helps ensure that the qualified persons will be receiving their distributions.  

For example, in most jurisdictions, the spouse and children are given priority in receiving distributions from the estate property and monies.  If other persons try to obtain a distribution before them, the executor may have to step in and moderate the situation. The probate grant therefore provides good motivation for the executor to ensure that the probate process is being followed.

Probate bonds can therefore protect the beneficiaries against any potential fraud, errors, negligence, theft, or misrepresentation perpetrated by the executor of the estate. 

What if the Executor Violates Their Duties?

If the executor violates their estate duties, they will usually become exposed to a civil lawsuit filed by the beneficiaries that were affected.  For example, if the executor stole some of the estate money and used it for their own personal use rather than distributing to a certain heir, they may be required to pay damages to reimburse the heir for their losses. 

In serious cases, the executor may also be subject to criminal consequences, such as a criminal fine or even jail time.  This is because estate violations can often involve various types of criminal charges, such as white-collar crime, tax fraud, or fraudulent misrepresentation.  These can also be protected against through the requirement of a probate bond.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With the Probate Bond Laws in My Area?

Probate bonds are often a standard part of the probate process.  A person can also specify in their will whether or not they wish that a bond be imposed on their executor.  You may need to contact a qualified lawyer if need any assistance with a probate bond.  An experienced probate attorney can help provide advice on how to set up a probate bond, or how to have one enforced if you’re a beneficiary.  In the event of a lawsuit, your attorney can represent your interests during the legal process. 

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Last Modified: 01-11-2013 02:04 PM PST

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