Families frequently—and mistakenly—believe that when a will exists, probate can be avoided upon the death of a loved one. The fact is, a will needs to be filed in probate court, and this is generally done by the executor designated when the will was created. Here is a reassuring overview of what to expect during probate proceedings.
Examining, Approving and Processing
When a loved one dies and leaves a will behind, the will is filed in the state’s probate court and the court oversees the public process of settling the affairs of the deceased. As estate law experts at Kyle E. Krull explain:
A valid and well-constructed last will and testament makes probate less scary….The probate court is where every last will and testament of a deceased individual is given life — after being examined, approved, and processed…. The probate court provides oversight for the appointed executor when paying debts and eventually distributing estate assets….Guardians are also part of the purview of probate when there are any orphaned minor children.
The laws and names of probate vary somewhat by state.It is also know as surrogate’s court, orphan’s court, or chancery court. Regardless, the probate process begins when the last will is filed with a petition for probate and a copy of the death certificate.
To close the probate of an estate, the executor must complete all required tasks and provide a full and final settlement (i.e., an accounting). This final settlement must be approved by the court.
Executors can learn more about their responsibilities right here. It’s important to understand that executors must follow the court-supervised process of settling debts (such as taxes) before any assets can be distributed.The executor of a will has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of the estate and beneficiaries. Accordingly, executor bonds are often requested. Essentially, executor bonds are a type of fiduciary bond and guarantee the faithful performance of the executor in accordance with the law. Colonial Surety makes it quick and easy to get executor bonds. The steps are simply: get a quote online, fill in the information and enter a payment method. The bond can then be e-filed or printed from anywhere—even before leaving the law office.
Good To Know
There is nothing inherently bad about probate: it is simply the legal, public process that brings closure to our affairs when we die. Although most states offer expedited processes depending upon the level of assets involved, probate does typically take some time—with a year or so being average. If there is no will, the court designates a representative, often referred to as an administrator, to manage the affairs of the deceased. Without a will, the assets are ultimately distributed following the state laws of intestacy. Sometimes, we hear stories in the news about probate complications, but these are generally, caused by issues like unpaid taxes, debts, conflicts among family members or contested wills. In reality, most families avoid these complexities, as well as the need for probate litigation. In circumstances where speed or privacy are critical, careful estate planning can enable families to by-pass the probate process. Learn more about how to avoid probate here.
Keep in mind that the fiduciaries appointed during estate planning have a legal responsibility to carry out the intentions set forth in the estate planning documents—and the law. Fiduciary Bonds are frequently requested—and sometimes even required. These bonds may be specifically referred to as personal representative, executor, trustee or guardianship bonds, but they have the same essential purpose: safeguarding the interests of the estate and beneficiaries in accordance with state law. At Colonial, a leading national provider of all types of fiduciary bonds, the steps to obtaining personal representative, executor, trustee or guardianship bonds are easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from anywhere—even the law office.
Estate Law Practice?
Colonial Surety helps attorneys and their clients obtain fiduciary and court bonds quickly, and easily with our direct, online bond service. We also offer attorneys complimentary business support services via The Partnership Account®.
Lawyers everywhere in the country can signup for The Partnership Account® for Attorneys in minutes, and immediately gain direct access to our complete online portfolio of court and fiduciary bonds–and a private dashboard. Use it to quickly and efficiently obtain, track, manage and even e-file all the bonds needed to keep your clients and cases moving forward.
Colonial’s online bond portfolio includes: administrator, estate, executor, guardian, personal representative, probate, trustee and conservator. We also have: appeal, supersedeas, injunction, replevin and receiver bonds—and more.
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Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of surety 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.