Typically when someone dies without a will, an administrator is appointed in probate court to settle the affairs of the deceased. Frequently, probate courts require the administrator to obtain a type of fidelity bond, known as an administrator bond. Here’s what you need to know in a nutshell.
Probate Courts Appoint Administrators
The legal terms used related to “settling the affairs” of someone who dies can be a little hard to decipher—and can differ a bit by state or circumstance Here is a quick run-down on important words and phrases the family and friends of a deceased person might encounter, especially when there is no will.
Probate Court: Probate court is a specialized type of court that deals with the property and debts of a person who has died. The basic role of the 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….In some states it is called by other names, such as Surrogate’s Court, Orphan’s Court or Chancery Court.
Law of Intestate Succession: Outlines the order in which the next of kin inherit the assets of the deceased (aka “decedent”): The details vary from state to state. In a sense, the law of intestate succession can be considered to be the “will” the state makes for you if you don’t make your own.
Probate: A legal procedure by which a court oversees the distribution of property of a person who has died….The court appoints someone to take control of the deceased person’s assets, ensure that all debts are properly paid, and distribute the remaining property to the proper beneficiaries.
Administrator: A person appointed by a court to manage a person’s estate.
It is helpful to know that 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.
Administrators are fiduciaries—they are responsible for carrying out their duties in accordance with the law. As Legal Beagle explains, probate courts appoint administrators:
Dying intestate, which is without a will, leaves the position of administrator unfilled. In some cases, any interested person can apply for appointment as administrator. In others, heirs in the decedent’s immediate family are the court’s first choice….Some states prohibit administrators who live in a different state from the decedent’s last permanent residence. The forms for appointment, fee structure and bond requirements are largely the same as those for a personal representative named in a will…. An administrator who was not named in a will may require court supervision throughout the estate settlement.
What Is an Administrator Bond?
An administrator bond is a type of fiduciary bond required by the court to protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with state law. Essentially, the administrator bond guarantees the faithful performance of the appointed administrator.
As a leading national provider, Colonial Surety Company helps court appointed administrators in every state quickly and affordably obtain their bonds. Uniquely, Colonial offers a direct, instant and digital way to obtain administrator bonds— and personal representative bonds too.
The steps to obtaining an administrator 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 while at court. It’s that simple.
Obtain an Administrator Bond Here.
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