WHAT IS A PROBATE BOND?
At the commencement of a formal probate, sometimes it comes as a surprise to prospective personal representatives that they might have to post a surety bond in order to be appointed to this position. Even though most wills contain a provision which waive the requirement of a personal representative to post this bond, it is ultimately up to the courts to decide whether to honor that waiver or require a bond. This surety bond serves as security to protect the beneficiaries and creditors of an estate from any wrongdoing on the part of the personal representative.
Fla. Stat. §733.402 governs probate bond requirements. Under this statute, the Court has the discretion to require a bond or other surety based on several considerations including the size of the estate, the domicile of the prospective personal representative, intended beneficiaries, spousal rights, ect. These factors also contribute to the size of the bond ordered. Below are the typical fees that are currently charged for typically required probate bond amounts:
Once the Court has ordered a bond, the prospective personal representative must attain the bond from a bonding company and file it with the Court before Letters of Administration are issued. Depending on the size of the bond ordered, the issuance of a bond might be more difficult for some, since bonding companies may examine a person’s credit history and other personal factors in determining whether they are willing to take the risk and issue a bond. If the personal representative has an objection to either the imposition of a bond or the size of the bond required, they may petition the court to decease or dispense with the bond and argue their case before the judge. Likewise, an interested party in a probate estate may petition the Court to have the bond increased if they feel additional protection is necessary.
As stated previously, once the bond is filed with the Court, Letters of Administration will be issued. Most probate cases are completed within one year from the date of filing. If the case continues on past one year, the Personal Representative will have to pay the bond premium again for every successive year that the probate remains open until the personal representative is discharged. If you have questions or concerns regarding probate or the filing of probate bonds, please schedule a consultation with our office and we will be glad to answer any questions you may have. If the court requires a bond in your case, our office will help through every step of the process including helping you select a bonding company to complete the bond application, procure the bond, and properly file same with the Court. Call a skilled Fort Myers probate attorney today and inquire for additional information.