Usually, when someone dies, probate court is notified by a friend or family member, so that the affairs of the deceased can be settled—and assets distributed. What if no one notifies the court to initiate proceedings?
Isolation. Loneliness. Depression and other illnesses. Family conflicts. Economic hardships. Geographic separation. The list of reasons why sometimes, sadly, people die alone, goes on.
In these cases, Legal Beagle observes:
Some or all of the estate’s assets may be lost if no one files for estate proceedings in court. For example, if a decedent owned a home with a mortgage, because no one is working on the estate, the mortgage won’t be paid and the lender will foreclose on the home. Further, the person handling the estate usually secures the decedent’s valuable property such as a car. If no one has taken any action on behalf of the estate, valuable items be may damaged or lost. A car, for instance, may be deemed abandoned property by the state if left parked for an extended period of time.
In the end, sometimes it is a creditor of the deceased who files a petition with the court to begin settling the estate:
A creditor of the decedent with a valid claim has a legal interest in the estate because payment of the debt comes from the estate’s assets. State laws differ on procedures and deadlines. A creditor often files a petition for administration, which is used when a decedent doesn’t leave a will, because the creditor has no way of knowing whether the decedent had a will or its location. Because the creditor has to list the decedent’s heirs on the petition, he may have to investigate the decedent’s family history. The court may appoint a public administrator to manage the estate if no relatives step forward after the creditor files a petition.
Court Appointed Administrators and Administrator Bonds
When there is no will, or executor, probate courts generally appoint an administrator or personal representative to manage the affairs of the estate in accordance with state laws governing intestate succession. As Investopedia explains:
The administrator is tasked with paying bills to creditors and outstanding tax liabilities to the government and distributing the assets of the estate to beneficiaries who are deemed entitled under the law.
Given the important fiduciary role administrators play, courts often require them to secure a bond upon appointment. Referred to as administrator, administration or personal representative bonds, these are a type of fiduciary bond—they guarantee the faithful performance of the representative in accordance with all applicable laws:
An administration bond is a bond that is posted on behalf of an administrator of an estate to provide assurance that they will conduct their duties according to the provisions of the will and/or the legal requirements of the jurisdiction.
To avoid delays when the court orders a fiduciary bond, court-appointed administrators, and representatives (and their lawyers) rely on a leading, national provider: Colonial Surety Company. Uniquely, Colonial offers instant bonds from a self-service online platform. Bonds available include administrator bonds— as well as personal representative, estate, executor, fiduciary, probate and trustee bonds.
At Colonial, the process of obtaining bonds is easy. Just get a quote online, fill out your information, and enter your payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even the courthouse!
Probate Lawyers: you will find it handy to sign up for Colonial’s free Attorney Partnership Account®. This complimentary business service provides attorneys with user-friendly client management dashboards to coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. Start saving yourself time—and your clients money, right here: Partnership Account for Attorneys.
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct seller and 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 across the USA.