The probate courts appoint personal representatives to settle the affairs of the deceased when there is no will. A personal representative takes control of the assets (aka estate) of the deceased and distributes them to the beneficiaries, in accordance with state intestacy law. Personal representatives have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of beneficiaries.
Essentially, the role of a probate court judge “is to assure that the deceased person’s creditors are paid, and that any remaining assets are distributed to the proper beneficiaries.” Accordingly, the appointed personal representative must provide the beneficiaries with an accounting of all actions taken on behalf of the estate. Accountings include both the paying of bills and settlement of debt as well as the distribution of remaining assets. Legal Beagle explains that probate proceedings and terminology vary somewhat by state, though generally, the basics are similar:
- Personal Representatives must disclose all actions taken for the estate
- Receipts for bill payments and the sale of real estate or other property must be provided.
- Distributions to beneficiaries, whether of money or property, must be detailed
Probate proceedings for reviewing the reports of personal representatives can require beneficiaries to sign off on the accounting. Alternatively, the court can “require the beneficiaries be mailed a copy of the accounting and, if no objections are filed within a certain amount of time, the accounting is deemed acceptable.” Judges can also of course scrutinize the accounting and even involve beneficiaries in approval hearings. As Legal Beagle reports: Supervised estates require these types of judicial accounting approvals. A supervised probate estate has heavier judicial oversight. An example of when an estate may require court supervision would be when beneficiaries engage in large disputes.
What Is a Personal Representative Bond?
Given the significant fiduciary duties of personal representatives, courts often require a bond, such as a personal representative bond to protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with state law. Essentially, a personal representative bond guarantees the faithful performance of the appointed representative.
As a leading national fiduciary bond provider, Colonial Surety Company helps personal representatives in every state quickly and affordably obtain their bonds. Uniquely, Colonial offers direct, instant and digital personal representative bonds.
The steps to obtaining a personal representative bond with Colonial are easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even from your phone while in probate court. It’s that simple.
Good To Know
Probate courts follow state specific intestate succession law to determine the order in which the next of kin inherits the assets of the deceased (aka “decedent). The terms administrator, personal representative and executor are frequently interchanged, with preferences sometimes determined by state. Legal experts at White and Williams offer this explanation:
If the decedent dies “testate” – that is, with a Will – an Executor is appointed as the personal representative. If the decedent dies intestate – i.e., without a Will – an Administrator is appointed as the personal representative. The duties and responsibilities of the personal representative, and even the title of the personal representative, may change depending on the state laws and circumstances involved, but the need for such a person (or persons) is shared by all.
Colonial Surety helps court appointed administrators, personal representatives and executors anywhere in the country quickly and affordably secure the specific fiduciary bonds they need. Probate court can be confusing. Colonial is not—we have the expertise to help. Our self-serve online platform is user-friendly, making bonds easily available directly to customers. If you have questions, just call, we answer, and we’re HERE TO HELP.
Across the country, lawyers find that partnering with Colonial Surety Company speeds up the process whenever courts require fiduciary bonds or court bonds.
Colonial’s direct, fully digital, user-friendly system reduces the time, hassle and expense typically associated with antiquated bonding processes. For even more value added service, lawyers are invited to sign up for our complimentary Partnership Account® for Attorneys, This free business service provides user-friendly client management dashboards, enabling attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. Increase your efficiency—and lower costs for clients. See for yourself today: The Partnership Account® for Attorneys.
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of various bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.