Probate Bonds: What They Are and Why We Need Them

Probate is the court-managed process of proving a will as authentic. The point of proving the will as authentic is to distribute a deceased person’s estate among any heirs or creditors that may exist. In the absence of a will, probate courts will still oversee the distribution of the deceased person’s estate.

An executor (sometimes referred to as an administrator in the absence of a will) is the person appointed by the court to collect and distribute the assets of an estate. If a will is left, and if that will names an individual to serve as executor, then the court will appoint that person. However, if the will fails to name an executor, or if no will is left, the court will select a person to fill this role.

Types of Probate Bonds

The individual appointed by the court must subsequently obtain a probate bond to protect the estate from losses due to mismanagement of funds. In other words, the executor (or administrator) of the estate must purchase a bond that guarantees payment to the estate and heirs for any fraudulent or negligent activities the executor engages in that result in financial losses.

There are four general types of probate bonds an executor may procure, depending on the circumstances:

Administrator Bond

Issued when no will is left and an individual is appointed by the court to manage the estate.

Executor Bond

Issued when an individual is named in a will, and therefore appointed by the court, to manage the estate.

Trustee Bond

Issued for an individual acting on behalf of a trust left by the deceased.

Conservatorship/Guardian Bond

Issued for an individual who manages the finances of another person who is not capable of governing the finances themselves. The difference between conservator and guardian depends on the age of the dependant person. If the dependant is under 18, then a guardian will be appointed and a guardian bond will be required. Otherwise, if the dependant is over 18, a conservator will be appointed and a conservatorship bond will be required.

Keep in mind that laws governing probate court procedures vary from state to state, so if you have any questions about your particular state, or if you would like more information on how to obtain a probate bond, give us a call!