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Why probate bonds are often necessary

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | Probate And Estate Law

While being named the personal representative of someone’s estate in Florida is an honor, it comes with a lot of responsibilities. Something many do not know until assuming the role of personal representative is the need to purchase a probate bond, as well as what this entails.

What is a probate bond?

A probate bond, also known as an executor bond or administrator bond, is typically a requirement in Florida for personal representatives. This acts similarly to an insurance policy against any future claims that you potentially mishandled the job. Initially, that fee to the bond company comes out of your pocket, and the amount will depend partly upon the value of the estate and partly on your creditworthiness. 

Are these bonds necessary?

The bond requirement may be waived by an order from the probate court, but most courts require them as a matter of course unless the deceased’s will contains an express waiver. Even then, the court is not required to comply with the testator’s wishes and may still choose to require a bond. 

The more complicated the estate that has to be managed, the bigger the likelihood that the bond will be required. That’s because, as the personal representative, you are solely responsible for:

  • Securing the deceased’s property until it is time to distribute any assets
  • Paying the deceased’s debts and filing their final taxes
  • Making decisions that will maximize the value of the estate for its beneficiaries
  • Filing any necessary legal documents to properly notify creditors and beneficiaries
  • Keep accurate records of all the financial transactions involving the estate

Since the risk of financial losses to the beneficiaries of the estate is very real when a fiduciary mishandles or abandons their duty, the bond provides some security. In most cases, the cost of your bond is reimbursable by the estate as part of your administrative expenses. 

You don’t have to shoulder all of these responsibilities on your own. An experienced probate attorney can help you navigate the legal process and better understand your responsibilities.