Legal Tips and Resources
When a person dies and does not have a trust, their assets will almost certainly be required to pass through the probate process. This may be true with, and without, a will. The word ‘probate’ tends to promote anxiety and fears into many people, as there are broad assumptions that indicate the process is considerable difficult. This is not necessarily true. Most states have adopted probate rules that help to streamline the process and make it go as smooth as possible, and within the shortest amount of time. That being said, there are circumstances that can hinder the probate process and drag it out for months, or even years. With the assistance of a probate lawyer you may be able to alleviate some of the challenges and get through the process sooner rather than later.
The Differences Between Probate and a Probate Bond
During the probate process you might hear the words “probate” and “probate bond”. These terms do not mean the same thing.
Probate – Probate is a legal process that oversees the assets and distribution of a deceased person’s estate. A general breakdown of the steps of the probate process is as follows:
- Locate the will.
- File the will at the nearest probate court.
- Locate all assets.
- Appraise all assets of value.
- Notify any creditors.
- Pay outstanding debts.
- Pay any taxes owed.
- Resolve debts for the funeral and burial.
- Distribute the remaining assets.
The probate process might appear to be straightforward, and it can be, but unexpected obstacles, such as missing assets or a will dispute, could arise. It may be a good idea to get advice from a probate lawyer before the will is probated to learn more about the process and make a sound decision about whether or not you would like a legal advocate on your side.
Probate Bond – It is common for the probate court to request the executor of a will to provide a probate bond before they begin their duties. This amount varies, but tends to start at $0.05% per thousand dollars of the total bond. For example, an estate valued at $250,000 might have a bond of $500.
There are different types of probate bonds, but the objective tends to remain the same in that the bond is meant to ensure the executor carries out the deceased person’s wishes accordingly. Terminology for a probate bond may include:
- Administrator Bond
- Trustee Bond
- Personal Representative Bond
- Estate of Court Bond
- Executor of Court Bond
The terms of a probate bond might be confusing to you, so speaking to a lawyer is advisable. Bare in mind that not all states will require a probate bond. If you do need to provide a bond, you can ask a lawyer or surety company to help if you’re unable to come up with the money. Failure to comply with the terms of the bond, or the will, could result in a claim against the bond or you.