A personal representative bond is a fiduciary bond. "Fiduciary" descirbes a financially responsible party. A personal representative's duty is to faithfully inventory, value and distribute the assets of a deceased person in accordance with the pevailing statutes and orders issued by the probate court holding jurisdiction over the estate. A personal representative bond can be referred to by different names. All are essentially the same obligation.
Where a will exists which clearly states how estate assets are to be distributed, a personal representative bond my not be required. Where a person dies without a will the decedent's estate is considered "intestate". In 1969, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws promulgated the Uniform Probate Code (UPC). Those jurisdictions that adhere to the UPC guidelines may under certain circumstances waive the probate bond requirement. Only sixteen states have accepted the UPC treatment in its entirety.
A personal representative bond guarantees the performance of specific duties. The personal representative must identify all heirs and creditors, identify and collect the deceased's assets and appraise them, pay all debts and taxes, then distribute the remaining assets to the heirs. Liquidation of assets to raise money for the decedent's debts is often necessary. The surety bond further guarantees that the personal representative will identify investment or retirement accounts which are beneficiaried to the deceased, which must go through the probate process before being distrubuted. While performing these duties the fiduciary has an affirmative duty to make sure that estate assets will not lose value. In legal terms the bond of a personal representative protects the estate from the misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance of the fiduciary.
A fiduciary bond is not generally considered a high loss class of surety bond. A surety company will review the applicant's credit, the assumption being that an applicant that has a history of problems managing his or her own finances may present a serious doubt about how her or she might deal with the estate's finances. Surety companies also require the participation of an attorney that specializes in probate, conservatorship or miscellaneous fiduciary matters. Unless the personal representative bond applicant is an attorney or professional fiduciary, navigating the probate laws and staying within the probate rules can present a challenge. Personal representative bond underwriters will also consider conflicts between the heirs, fiduciary indebtedness to the estate and ongoing businesses of the deceased as complicating factors. A typical personal representative bond request submitted to a surety agent will contain the following:
If you need to identify an attorney with probate experience we recommend Martindale.
Underwriting of personal representative bonds requires review by a surety specialist with knowledge about probate law in the jurisdiction where the bond will be filed and experience with fiduciary obligations generally. Surety bond leader, Surety One, Inc., specializes in fiduciary bonds. We offer probate bonds in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, Canada and U.S. Virgin Islands. Application submissions are reviewed and quoted on the same day as they are received. We are the MOST RESPONSIVE surety bond underwriter in the business. Call (800) 373-2804, email us at Underwriting@SuretyOne.com or chat with us live here for a bond of a personal representative or any fiduciary bond need.
Surety bond application review and quoting are free of charge. There is no obligation to purchase.