When a person dies without a will, probate courts rely on intestate succession laws to distribute the assets to heirs. Court-ordered fiduciary bonds can become important in this process.
Who Gets What?
If there is no will—or if the will is deemed invalid, states need an orderly system to determine how to distribute the property of the deceased. Each state has its own specific intestate succession laws. Essentially, intestate succession laws provide a methodical response to the common “who gets what” dilemma.
Though the specifics of intestate succession laws differ by state, it’s common practice for heirs to be grouped or categorized for the purpose of inheritance. As FindLaw describes:
Generally, heirs are grouped in classes, which are created to determine the order of whom the property will transfer to and the share of property among individual heir. The share of the property depends on who survives the decedent. For example, in most states, if a person dies with no surviving spouse but with three children, the children will take the entire estate. But, if the person dies with a surviving spouse and three children, the surviving spouse may take half of the entire estate and the other half to three children. The classes of heirs include the following:
The decedent’s surviving spouse
Descendants (children, grandchildren, and so on)
Descendants of decedent’s parents (siblings, nieces, and nephews)
Descendants of grandparents (aunts and uncles)
If none of the individuals above exist, the property may escheat to the state.
When Is a Fiduciary Bond Needed?
When there is no will, a probate judge will typically designate a fiduciary to oversee the distribution of property as governed by intestate law—and overseen by the court. Frequently, courts require fiduciary bonds.
Fiduciary Law Blog explains:
A fiduciary bond is a legal instrument that essentially serves as insurance to protect beneficiaries, heirs and creditors when a fiduciary fails to perform honestly or competently. A court may require a fiduciary bond for any person or party that has fiduciary duty or responsibility to another. In general, a fiduciary is someone who owes a duty of loyalty to protect the interest of another. A fiduciary may be a trustee, executor, personal representative, administrator, guardian, financial advisor, or other person exercising control over another person’s assets and/or property.
How Do You Get a Fiduciary Bond?
As a leading national provider of fiduciary bonds, Colonial Surety Company makes it easy for fiduciaries in every state to obtain their required bonds. State laws determine the amount of the bond related to the assets being managed. When a bond is required, it must be obtained promptly so that the distribution of property can proceed.
Colonial offers direct, instant and digital fiduciary bonds, which are also referred to as probate, executor, administrator, estate or personal representative bonds. At Colonial, the steps to obtaining these bonds are easy—get a quote online, fill out your information, and enter your payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from your home or office—even while at court. It’s that simple.
Special Advice for Attorneys: Partner!
In addition to providing bonds directly to the general public, Colonial Surety provides an innovative Partnership Account to help busy attorneys save time. This free business service provides attorneys with user-friendly client management dashboards to coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need.
Often, lawyers and their clients are left shuffling as they scurry to secure court bonds and respond to deadlines. Colonial’s direct, fully digital, user-friendly system reduces the time, hassle and expense typically associated with antiquated processes.
Attorneys are invited to obtain a free Colonial Surety Partnership Account® to streamline the bonding process. Our unique Partnership Account® will increase your efficiency—and lower costs for clients. See for yourself today: Colonial’s 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 in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and most Territories.