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Probate Bond

Most people understand the importance of having a will, yet most Americans (55%) don't have one. That can create issues during probate: when your estate is legally divided among your heirs and beneficiaries. Even with a will, probate is a complex legal process, and dividing your assets doesn't always go smoothly. If the courts appoint someone to oversee the probate process, that person may need to secure a probate surety bond. The experts at Viking Bond Service have created this simple guide to explain how probate bonds work and why they're important.

What is a Probate Bond?

Essentially, a probate bond ensures that the executor of a will or trust will act in an ethical fashion, to carry out the decedent's wishes with integrity. The executor has a fiduciary responsibility to always act in the estate's best interests. A probate surety bond provides a mechanism for compensating any damages resulting from a failure of this responsibility.

You will also hear probate bonds called executor bonds, but both terms refer to the same situation. Probate managers must oversee the dispensation of an estate ethically and transparently. If they're negligent in that responsibility, a probate bond protects the estate by holding the probate manager financially responsible for the decisions they make. Any heir, beneficiary, or creditor who alleges that funds have been stolen or mismanaged can file a claim against the bond seeking compensation. If an investigation proves the claim valid, the surety company behind the bond agrees to guarantee payment. The parties involved in an estate feel more comfortable relying on a bonded probate manager or estate executor, knowing that person can be held accountable.

Types of Probate Bonds

A probate bond always protects an estate, ensuring that the bonded person will follow their fiduciary responsibilities. It is designed to ensure that all work on behalf of the estate is done ethically and with integrity. However, somewhat different roles must be filled in the execution of a will, depending upon the will's structure, provisions, and beneficiaries. Each of these roles has a specific bond tailored and named for its role.

These are examples of different types of probate bonds:

Regardless of the probate bond type, all work the same way.

How Does a Probate Bond Work?

Probate bonds provide legal recourse for a party to a will who feels they have been wronged to seek financial compensation. Without a probate surety bond in place, there is no practical or efficient way for people to hold probate managers accountable when they deviate from their fiduciary duty. That's why courts require probate bonds in many cases and why the beneficiaries of an estate prefer having them too.

Just like with any type of surety bond, there are three parties to a probate bond:

  • Principal - The person who oversees the probate process and is bonded is the bond principal. They must obtain a bond, renew it as necessary, and pay for any claims filed against the bond in a timely manner.
  • Obligee - The person(s) benefiting from the dispensation of the estate is the obligee. This may be an heir, beneficiary, or creditor. The obligee has the right to file a claim against the bond seeking compensation if there are unreconciled issues during probate.
  • Surety - The company that underwrites and issues the bond is the surety. If the principal doesn't pay for a valid claim, the surety agrees to pay. However, the surety also has the right to collect that same amount from the principal, the party that always has the final financial responsibility.

When the probate bond obligee (someone receiving assets through the probate process) files a claim against the bond, the surety encourages the principal (the person managing the probate process) to pay outright. If the principal declines to do so, the surety will investigate the claim. If the surety determines the claim to be valid, the surety will compensate the obligee from the bond. Once the obligee is paid, the claim is technically resolved. However, the final step is when the principal repays the surety. If the principal is unable or unwilling to do that, the surety can use whatever legal means available to collect payment along with any interest and fees due.

When is a Probate Bond Required?

In some cases, the court will require the executor of a will to acquire a probate bond. This is more likely to occur with large, complicated wills, or trusts with substantial assets or those where the estate has significant debts. In other cases, the will or trust itself includes the requirement that the executor be bonded. Again, the larger and more complex the estate, the more likely the will or trust will require a probate bond.

Anyone required to do so by the court should get a probate bond, of course. And, if you propose to serve as the executor of a will or the probate manager, you must comply with any specified requirements for bonding. You cannot perform any duties regarding probate until you obtain a bond, so there's no way to avoid the requirement and no incentive to wait on getting a bond.

How Much Does a Probate Surety Bond Cost?

The probate surety bond cost depends upon a couple of factors. First, if the court requires a bond, the court will also specify the size of the bond. Actual probate bond rates are only about 1% - 3% of the bond amount. So if you need to secure a $100,000 bond, you may only pay $1,000 in premiums. When you submit your bond application, underwriters will evaluate your credit risk and calculate your bond quote accordingly. Applicants with worse credit will pay a higher premium, but they won't necessarily be denied a bond. At Viking Bond Service, we are committed to helping applicants to become bonded at the lowest possible cost.

How to Get a Probate Bond

Acquiring a surety bond like a probate bond is a simple process. First, apply with a surety bonding company like Viking Bond Service. Then, provide any court documents or specifications from the estate if the bond is required by a third party.

The application process may vary depending on the state you're in and the bond conditions set by the estate or the court. In most cases, you must provide information about your background, business dealings, and credit history. The bond company is trying to evaluate your reliability and how likely you are to pay back your debts. When you apply for a probate bond with Viking Bond Service, you can expect to receive a quote back in as little as 48 hours.

Request Your Probate Bond Quote Today

If you need or want a probate bond, Viking Bond Service is your surety partner at every step. Please fill out our online application today, and we will get you a bond quote back fast. And we are happy to answer your questions. Just call us at or reach us through the contact form at the top of this page.

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