A probate bond is an assurance that typically takes the shape of a surety, signed jointly by the Executor/Personal Representative and the bond company. The goal of the bond is to ensure that representative of the estate carries out their responsibilities in strict compliance with the will, probate code and applicable court rules. If the representative falls short of fulfilling their responsibilities then either a creditor, beneficiary, an heir or other protected party may seek redress upon the bond to cover their loss and potentially costs of recovery.
Generally, every representative appointed by the court must post a bond unless there is an exception. Under Section 8481 of the California Probate Code a bond is not normally required if the will waives bond or if all of the beneficiaries waive the requirement of a bond unless the will specifically requires one. However, even if the will waives a bond, the court or an interested party may petition for the requirement that the representative obtain a bond.
This may occur when the estate has creditors and the court may dictate that a bond be procured for the amount of outstanding debts. Additionally, if the representative is not a resident of California the court will require a minimum bond in the amount of $12,000.00.
Because a bond is a surety contract, the issuing company will want to review the credit worthiness of the representative before issuing the bond. If there is the potential that the proposed representative may not be bondable due to poor credit or other matters it is important to consider alternate representatives named in the will, or otherwise, before petitioning for the will to be admitted to probate. If a problem is discovered after filing a petition for probate and a hearing is held, the parties will have to repetition for another party to be appointed which will delay the beginning of the administration for several months and perhaps longer.