It is always sad news when there is strife among beneficiaries after a loved one has passed. It is especially difficult when the strife plays out in public. After the tragic death of famed Actor/Comedian Robin Williams, his heirs are engaging in just such a public battle; as an article in the New York Times explains: Robin Williams. Even though there was an estate plan in place there is still significant discord among the heirs. And, despite the plan, it may still be necessary for the courts to intercede and require a Personal Representative (PR) to administer estate distribution to avoid any further trouble. Due to the nature of the dispute, the court may require the PR to secure a Personal Representative Bond to ward off any claims of mismanagement.
A personal representative bond is required by the state of California to protect the interest of the deceased’s estate, its heirs and those parties who are owed money. The responsibility of a personal representative (commonly referred to as an administrator or executor in California) is taken seriously by the courts. Courts mandate the surety bond as a form of protection for all parties. While the surety bond protects the heirs and creditors of the estate, it is also a protection for the personal representative to ensure she/he fulfills their duties responsibly.
Being Appointed As A Personal Representative
On average, the deceased will name the personal representative in their will. However, if this does not occur the responsibility could be entrusted to the closest living relative or even to a financial institution (like a bank) that will oversee the account. A California judge may appoint a person to the position after a probate examiner reviews the petition and estate information.
Being named as a personal representative of an estate is a big deal. The court holds the overseer to all his or her actions in order to protect heirs and creditors of the estate.
The duties of a personal representative, executor or administrator in California include the following:
All of these tasks and more, including the day-to-day details, rest on the shoulders of an executor. Given the amount of responsibility an administrator holds it is necessary for the personal representative bond to fully cover these actions.
Executor Bond Cost
California executor bond statute explains how a personal representative bond amount is determined:
8482. (a) The court in its discretion may fix the amount of the bond, but the amount of the bond shall be not more than the sum of:
(1) The estimated value of the personal property.
(2) The probable annual gross income of the estate.
(3) If independent administration is granted as to real property, the estimated value of the decedent’s interest in the real property.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), if the bond is given by an admitted surety insurer, the court may establish a fixed minimum amount for the bond, based on the minimum premium required by the admitted surety insurer.
(c) If the bond is given by personal sureties, the amount of the bond shall be twice the amount fixed by the court under subdivision (a).
(d) Before confirming a sale of real property the court shall require such additional bond as may be proper, not exceeding the maximum requirements of this section, treating the expected proceeds of the sale as personal property.
The executor bond lasts as long as it takes to formally settle an estate. Sometimes this can be achieved in as little as eight months while other estates take years to settle. The longevity of the personal representative bond will impact the cost of the surety. Make sure to discuss this point with your Jurisco representative when you contact them about personal representative bonds