Review probate bond requirements

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Because administrators and executors are in charge of the deceased’s savings, property, and more, their job carries a lot of responsibility.

As such, there is the risk that mistakes could be made, either accidentally or purposely.

Therefore, some states require that a probate bond be issued to protect the estate from any losses or wrongdoing that may occur while it is being settled (also known as a surety, executor, estate, or fiduciary bond).

A probate bond is similar to an insurance policy that protects beneficiaries and creditors of the estate in case the executor is negligent or engages in fraud with the estate’s assets.

State law determines when a probate bond is required, but other factors may make a probate bond necessary.

The probate court in the county and state where the deceased lived can require a bond, even if the will specifically says one is not required.

A surviving family member, heir, or other beneficiaries or creditors may petition the court and request one.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know Family members, heirs, beneficiaries, or creditors may opt to require a bond if the estate has significant value or if there is a likelihood of disputes among heirs and beneficiaries.

The size of the bond is typically proportional to the size of the estate and companies who issue the bond typically charge a non-reimbursable fee and may review a person’s credit history and run a background check.

Typically, the executor or administrator will pay for the bond directly and be reimbursed by the estate once probate is complete, unless a will allocates money for it.

Helpful Tips


A probate bond is similar to an insurance policy.

The executor, administrator, or personal representative of the deceased’s estate may be required to purchase a probate bond.

If you are the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate, contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to determine if you need to purchase a probate bond.


A probate bond is typically purchased from a surety company and costs a percentage of the value of the estate (often 0.5%).

While the executor may have to pay the initial cost of the bond out-of-pocket, they can be reimbursed with estate funds once they receive letters testamentary or letters of administration.

Letters testamentary are often received once the executor files a petition for probate with the probate court in the county and state where the deceased lived.

Contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to determine whether a probate bond is necessary.


As long as the executor or administrator does not act in a careless or fraudulent manner, causing the estate to have financial losses, the bond’s principal may be returned.

Normally, the probate bond is calculated as a percentage of the estate’s value (e.g. 0.5%).

While every bond is different based on the terms of the bon agreement, some surety companies who issue probate bonds may charge a nonrefundable fee.

The nonrefundable fee is often charged in addition to the bond’s principal.

If a nonrefundable fee is charged, that will typically not be reimbursed to the executor, but the principal is reimbursable.

For example, Jane Doe is the executor of John Doe’s estate, worth $100,000.

Jane had to pay a principal bond equal to 0.5% of the Estate, or $500.

Jane was also charged a nonrefundable fee of $250.

As long as Jane performs her duties as executor in good faith, and pays all bills of John’s estate, the $500 bond will be reimbursed when John’s estate is finalized and closed.

However, the $250 nonrefundable fee will not be returned.

Usually, the principal of the bond will be reimbursed to the executor only after they receive a judgement of final distribution from the probate court.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More To learn more about Probate bonds and getting reimbursed for Probate bond fees, review the “Notify Bond Holder" section of the Guide.


The probate bond is designed to protect the estate from incompetence, fraud, and other bad actions by the executor or administrator.

As long as the executor does not engage in any actions that cause losses to the estate, they will be entitled to receive the bond’s principal when the estate is closed and the legal probate process is concluded.

If the executor causes losses to the estate, through either fraud or mistakes, individuals, such as heirs of the estate, can make a claim against the estate’s bond.

For example, let’s say Jane Doe failed to pay the electric bill for a deceased person's real estate, and it caused several damages amounting to $10,000 in contractor fees.

An heir to the estate might file a claim against Jane Doe’s bond to collect the $10,000 in damages caused by Jane’s mistake.

If Jane paid a $25,000 bond, she will only receive $15,000 back when the estate is closed and the legal probate process is concluded.

If a claim is made against the probate bond, the surety company who issued the bond will typically investigate the claim to ensure it is valid.

If it is valid, either the executor will have to pay the claim, or the surety company will pay the claim, out of the principal issued.

If the surety company pays the claim, the reimbursable principal will be reduced by the amount paid toward the claim, as in the example above.


When an executor has a probate bond and an heir or beneficiary makes a claim against the estate, the surety company that issued the bond will typically investigate to see if there was any wrongdoing on behalf of the executor.

If they determine that there was wrongdoing or a mistake, the bond policy may pay the heir making the claim for any losses they incurred.

For instance, Jane Doe is the executor of an estate with a $25,000 Probate bond. Jane Doe forgot to pay the electric bills for the deceased’s real estate, and damages were incurred, costing the estate $1,000 in contractor fees.

An Heir makes a claim against the Probate bond for $1,000 to pay the contractor.

After an investigation, if the surety company determines the expenses were a result of the executor’s mistake, they can reimburse the Heir $1,000 for the mistake made by Jane Doe.

When Jane Doe finalizes the estate and ends the legal probate process, the bond principal she is reimbursed will be reduced by $1,000.

Personal Considerations


Is the estate of high value?


If the estate does not qualify as a “small” estate based upon its value, there is a greater likelihood that a probate bond will be required.

The eligibility guidelines for a “small” estate vary greatly by state.

For instance, some states consider an estate valued less than $150,000 a “small” estate, while other states consider an estate valued less than $1,000 a “small” estate.

The executor or administrator should contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to determine whether a probate bond is required.

The probate office may also provide information on how and where to secure a probate bond, as well as how much the bond will cost (typically a percentage of the estate’s value).

This information will be necessary in order to secure a probate bond, which may be required to administer the estate.


A probate bond may not be required, depending on state law.

Even if a probate bond is not required by the probate court, the executor may want to purchase a bond to protect themselves against claims of wrongdoing.

For instance, if the heirs of an estate cannot agree on what should be done with the estate assets, such as whether they should be sold or maintained, the executor may want to secure a probate bond to protect themselves against claims by the heirs.

In this sense, it may help to think of a probate bond like an insurance policy.

The executor or administrator should contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to determine whether a probate bond will be required.

Depending on the rules of the state where the deceased lived, the probate office may ask if the deceased had a valid will, and how much the estate is estimated to be worth.


If the estate is of high value:

If the estate does not qualify as a “small” estate based upon its value, there is a greater likelihood that a probate bond will be required.

The eligibility guidelines for a “small” estate vary greatly by state.

For instance, some states consider an estate valued less than $150,000 a “small” estate, while other states consider an estate valued less than $1,000 a “small” estate.

The executor or administrator should contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to determine whether a probate bond is required.

The probate office may also provide information on how and where to secure a probate bond, as well as how much the bond will cost (typically a percentage of the estate’s value).

This information will be necessary in order to secure a probate bond, which may be required to administer the estate.

If the estate is not of high value:

A probate bond may not be required, depending on state law.

Even if a probate bond is not required by the probate court, the executor may want to purchase a bond to protect themselves against claims of wrongdoing.

For instance, if the heirs of an estate cannot agree on what should be done with the estate assets, such as whether they should be sold or maintained, the executor may want to secure a probate bond to protect themselves against claims by the heirs.

In this sense, it may help to think of a probate bond like an insurance policy.

The executor or administrator should contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to determine whether a probate bond will be required.

Depending on the rules of the state where the deceased lived, the probate office may ask if the deceased had a valid will, and how much the estate is estimated to be worth.


Has the estate hired a lawyer?


A probate bond may not be required, because the estate lawyer will be responsible for guiding the probate process, so there is less risk of mistakes or fraud.

Whether a bond is required is typically determined by the probate court in the county and state where the deceased lived.

Speak with the estate’s attorney to determine whether a probate bond is required.


There is a greater likelihood that a probate bond will be required, because there is the risk the executor or administrator could make mistakes with respect to settling the estate.

The executor or administrator should contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to determine whether a probate bond is necessary.


If the estate has hired a lawyer:

A probate bond may not be required, because the estate lawyer will be responsible for guiding the probate process, so there is less risk of mistakes or fraud.

Whether a bond is required is typically determined by the probate court in the county and state where the deceased lived.

Speak with the estate’s attorney to determine whether a probate bond is required.

If the estate has not hired a lawyer:

There is a greater likelihood that a probate bond will be required, because there is the risk the executor or administrator could make mistakes with respect to settling the estate.

The executor or administrator should contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to determine whether a probate bond is necessary.


Does the will waive bond requirements?


The probate court in the county and state where the deceased lived may not require a probate bond if it was waived by the deceased’s will.

However, there may still be additional paperwork that needs to be completed in order to ensure the bond is waived.

Contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to learn whether a probate bond is necessary.


It may still be possible for the heirs, beneficiaries, or legal next of kin of the estate to waive bond requirements.

To do so, the heirs of the estate will need to sign a bond waiver form provided by the probate court in the county and state where the deceased lived. If the heirs do not agree to waive the bond, the probate court will likely require a bond, so the executor or administrator will need to secure a bond.

Contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to learn more about obtaining a probate bond.


If the will waives bond requirements:

The probate court in the county and state where the deceased lived may not require a probate bond if it was waived by the deceased’s will.

However, there may still be additional paperwork that needs to be completed in order to ensure the bond is waived.

Contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to learn whether a probate bond is necessary.

If the Will does not waive bond requirements:

It may still be possible for the heirs, beneficiaries, or legal next of kin of the estate to waive bond requirements.

To do so, the heirs of the estate will need to sign a bond waiver form provided by the probate court in the county and state where the deceased lived. If the heirs do not agree to waive the bond, the probate court will likely require a bond, so the executor or administrator will need to secure a bond.

Contact the probate office in the county and state where the deceased lived to learn more about obtaining a probate bond.

Providers to Contact


Probate Attorneys Near You

Probate attorneys help settle a deceased person’s estate. They can help determine if you’re required to have a probate bond and can help you secure a bond if one is necessary.

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