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How a probate bond protects the heirs and the estate

Dying without a valid will can complicate the distribution of assets, but even executing a will can be complex. So, when a person dies and leaves a substantial estate, the survivors could be concerned about where the assets will go and who will manage them. A probate bond is a form of security to ensure the executor's compliance with the wishes of the decedent and the security of the heirs.

Currently, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in which Kennett Square is located, an initiative is underway to help executors and administrators apply for and acquire probate bonds. The program will cut the wait time from days or weeks to the day on which application is made.

In Pennsylvania, an executor or administrator who lives outside the state must buy the bond before performing the tasks of an executor. The bond acts as a safety fund that will be paid to the heirs or to persons who have liens on the estate in the event of fraud or mismanagement.

A will assigns an executor who will manage the estate, lists guardians if there are minor children and expresses whether an executor has to buy a probate bond. If a person dies intestate, a court-appointed administrator takes on the job as executor. Many people consider managing an estate an honorable duty, but, as honorable as it is, the job can be challenging.

The bond is not the only challenge in estate administration. An issue with probate litigation may ensue if the heirs feel that, for whatever reason, the executor or administrator fell short of expectations in performing their fiduciary duties.

Source: Philly.com, "Program Created to Better Acquire Probate Bonds," Ben Finley, Oct. 30, 2013

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Larmore Scarlett LLP

Larmore Scarlett, LLP
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