Court Bonds

Probate: Not All Bad



“Avoid probate,” is a buzzy phrase in estate planning. Keep in mind, however, that though the public process of settling our affairs does take some time and administrative wear and tear, it can be helpful. For example, state probate protocols ensure an orderly process is in place for dealing with validating and paying the claims of creditors.


Understanding Probate Basics

In a nutshell, probate makes our affairs public when we die, with the court supervising the distribution of our assets to beneficiaries—and ensuring creditors are paid. Legal experts bust some of the misconceptions frequently associated with probate.Whether or not there is a will, the estate of the deceased goes through the probate process. If there is a will, the executor designated when it was created files it with the court to begin the process. If there is no will, the court will appoint a fiduciary, who is referred to as a personal representative or administrator in most states, and follow the state laws of intestacy to distribute the assets to beneficiaries.

Sorting Out Debts

Because valid debts must be paid before remaining assets of the estate can be distributed to beneficiaries, probate can be useful when it comes to sorting out debts. Accordingly, the Flick Law Group reminds us that probate is not “inherently bad,” and notes that when multiple creditors are involved, court supervision can prove very useful:

The probate process can be extremely valuable…because the court can determine how creditors are paid and how much they receive. Further, because of the structured nature of probate processes, creditors who want to be paid from the estate must submit to the courts requirements. One requirement is that they make their requests known within a limited time frame. Failure to adhere to the courts timeline can restrict a creditors ability to show up in the future and ask for payment. In most instances, debts not satisfied are lost. As a result, probate may facilitate greater levels of loan forgiveness for an estate.

It can of course be stressful to the executor or administrator of an estate to deal with creditors, especially in the face of grief. Probate lawyers point out: “Some creditors respect the process. Others, however, get angry and take aggressive action to intimidate family members of the deceased into paying claims from their personal bank accounts or from funds that don’t belong to the estate.” Fortunately, state probate protocols provide a structured process and timing guidelines which serve as guardrails for dealing with debt. Georgia attorneys provide this example:


Once the Georgia probate court appoints an executor or administrator to manage the estate, Georgia law instantly puts a six-month hold on…claims…This…applies to all creditors except to those who hold mortgage or vehicle loans or security interests on the estate’s property. These creditors can still seek to repossess the car or foreclose on a farm or home, if the estate fails to make…payments. However, for all other claims, this six-month window applies. Georgia probate law provides this respite for two main reasons. First, families often need time to get clarity on the financial picture of the estate. Second, probate law seeks to create an orderly process, in which creditors, beneficiaries and heirs are paid in a carefully orchestrated order.If the estate distributes assets out of turn — for instance, bypasses a creditor and gives property directly to a beneficiary — that creditor can file a claim against the executor or administrator as well as the beneficiary who received the property.


Probate Bonds Explained

The fiduciary appointed to attend to the affairs of the estate might be referred to as an executor, administrator, personal representative depending on the circumstances and region. Regardless of the specifics of the estate being settled, the fiduciaries have a responsibility to act in accordance with the intentions set forth in estate planning documents and the law. Accordingly, probate courts often require the procurement of a type of fiduciary bond, known as a probate bond. Essentially, these bonds protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with applicable state law. Sometimes these bonds are referred to as administrator, personal representative or executor bonds. Although bond names and requirements vary from state to state, when a probate court anywhere in the country requires a bond, national expert, Colonial Surety is here to help. We are a direct, digital provider of a full portfolio of fiduciary bonds, and make it quick and easy to quote, purchase and e-file them, from anywhere, in minutes—even before leaving court.

Learn More and Obtain Probate Bonds Here.


Probate and Estate Law?

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Just select a fiduciary or court bond from the online portfolio, send it to your client for payment, then download, e-file or print the bond. Specific obligee requirements? Trust us: Colonial’s a direct bond writer, so our experts are here to ensure bonding requirements across the country are properly met.


Our fiduciary bond portfolio includes: administrator, estate, executor, guardian, personal representative, probate, surrogate, trustee, conservator and the list goes on. See for yourself, right here. Court bonds are right here too, including: appeal, supersedeas, injunction, replevin, receiver and more.


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