Court Bonds

Stashed Cash?



Sometimes the “older old,” who still have memories of the Great Depression, as well as individuals who suffer with dementia or other illnesses, cling to and hide cash or other tangible valuables, leading to surprises when families attempt to sort belongings or clear out a home. These true stories remind us all: help loved ones make a plan. 


Wow, That Much?

While the desire to hang onto some cash “just in case,” is not a completely bad idea, secrets can lead to very unintended consequences, as Martha White reports for The New York Times: After their father died in 2021, Susan Camp and her brother cleaned out his home — and inadvertently threw out $5,000 in cash he had wrapped in aluminum foil and stashed in the freezer. (Luckily, they later retrieved it.) And she was surprised…to also discover $6,000 in a box that once held a bottle of cologne. “Dad traveled, and he always wanted cash on him,” she said.


Without knowledge of the assets that may be lurking amidst the belongings of a deceased relative, family members can easily end up discarding them. Keeping valuables and cash at home also puts them at risk of being “destroyed by a disaster like a fire,” or stolen. Even absent these problems, sorting through homes and personal items “just in case” of course adds stress and time to the load grieving relations are likely to already be carrying:


Adrienne Volpe’s grandmother kept her extra cash in her library.“My grandmother had pressed thousands of dollars in single bills inside books,” Ms. Volpe said. “We thought we were going to find fall leaves” between the pages, she said. They had to open every book in the house to find the cash she had hidden — around $10,000, it turned out, in denominations as small as $20….Despite a decades-long career in real estate, Ms. Volpe said she hadn’t expected to discover this scenario within her own family. She credited her mother with deducing that more money had been stashed in her grandmother’s books than met the eye.

“Thank God my mother thinks like that,” she said, admitting, “I would have thrown all those books in the garbage.”


Estate planning experts point out that because stashed valuables are “messy and unofficial,” they can contribute to a whole host of problems when it comes time to bring the affairs of the deceased to closure, and offer these examples of what can go wrong:



  • “Things have a way of disappearing from the home, especially when you have existing family drama or a dispute,” said Alvina Lo, chief wealth strategist at Wilmington Trust….Since cash has no ownership records, “It’s very unclear from a property rights perspective who it belongs to,” Ms. Lo said. 




  • Even if there’s a well-intentioned adult child who lives close by and assets are found, there’s a lot of skepticism that may arise between siblings,” said Abbey Flaum, principal and family wealth strategist at Homrich Berg, a wealth management firm in Atlanta.




  • “The lost interest — it probably would have been double, just by having it in the bank all these years…” said Patrick Simasko, an estate lawyer in Mount Clemens, Mich., who recalled finding close to half a million dollars in cash and gold in the home of an older client who had hired him to execute her estate.



Helping Loved Ones Put Plans In Place

To avoid the headaches and heartaches of surprise discoveries, it’s best to proactively help loved ones inventory their assets and put estate and care plans in place before they experience so much of a decline that they cannot have lucid conversation or make real decisions. Two basic legal tools that every adult should put in place long before there is a specific need for them are a power of attorney (POA), and a health care directive. Going further, in many families, a home is the most valuable asset to be passed to the next generation, so homes definitely deserve special estate planning attention. Ultimately, a complete estate plan will likely involve a trust, and it’s good to have a basic understanding of how different kinds of trusts can address the specific needs and circumstances of a loved one. Don’t forget that estate planning experts have lots of experience, which is likely to come in handy as we observe changes in our loved ones: 


“We’ve done lots of planning for clients who could tell Mom or Dad was starting to slip a little bit,” Ms. Flaum said. She said she recommended that clients in this situation obtain a financial power of attorney and consider establishing a revocable trust, a financial instrument where assets can be held as people age and that allows beneficiaries to avoid probate after death.“A revocable trust is a really good way to plan for management of assets in the event of incapacity,” she said. “You can build in provisions regarding how incapacity may be determined for managing those trust assets.”

Helpful To Know: Estate Bonds 

Frequently the representative appointed to administer an estate plan, such as an executor, personal representative, or trustee is required to obtain a type of bond, referred to generally as an estate bond. The purpose of an estate bond is to guarantee that debts and assets will be properly handled in accordance with the estate plan as well as state laws and protocols. An estate bond is sometimes alternatively named specifically based on the role of the fiduciary. For example, an estate bond may be referred to as a trustee, executor, personal representative, guardianship or conservator bond.

Colonial Surety Company makes it quick and easy to obtain estate bonds of all kinds. A user-friendly online service allows you to quote and obtain a bond that is instantly available to download or e-file. Fiduciaries in every state can efficiently obtain their estate bonds here: 

Easy and Speedy Estate Bonds

Estate planning attorneys can help clients secure court and fiduciary bonds with a few clicks on The Partnership Account® for Attorneys. Just select the bond needed, send it to your client for payment, and then download, e-file or print the bond. Our fiduciary bonds include: administrator, estate, executor, guardian, personal representative, probate, surrogate, trustee, conservator and the list goes on. Court bonds include: appeal, supersedeas, injunction, replevin, receiver and more. 

Colonial Surety is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA. Our customers have awarded us a 4.8 Trustpilot score.Whenever and wherever you need a bond, trust Colonial: