Florida Probate Statute 733.403: Amount of Bond
In Florida, a probate bond is a type of insurance policy designed to protect the assets in a decedent’s estate from the personal representative’s reckless, negligent, or intentional misdeeds. A personal representative of an estate is responsible for managing the affairs of a decedent in preparation for the orderly transfer of the assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs. As part of the job the personal representative will have access to estate assets and will have the authority to make decisions that could have a significant impact on the value of the estate. To protect the beneficiaries, personal representatives are required to get this type of insurance policy. If you would like to learn more about the bond requirement, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.403- Amount of bond, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.Bond Requirement
A bond is a type of insurance policy that is provided by a surety to cover a set amount. The personal representative purchases the bond from the surety company. The bond is a guarantee provided by the surety that certain tasks will be completed by the personal representative, who is the “principal.” The bond protects the beneficiaries, who might be financially harmed by the negligent, reckless, or illegal acts of the personal representative. The beneficiaries are the “obligees” on the bond. If there is harm, the obligees make a claim on the bond with the surety company. The surety would pay the claim.
Under the Florida Probate Code, any individual serving as a personal representative must file a bond unless the an interested party petitions the probate court requesting a waiver of the bond requirement, or the court on its own motion decides to waive the bond requirements. As an experienced Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer will explain, it is important to understand that regardless of whether a decedent’s will states that no bond is required, the probate court judge may still order bond. It is the judge’s decision.
However, if the personal representative is a trust company, bank, or savings and loan, no bond is required.Amount of Bond
According to Florida Statutes, section 733.403- Amount of bond, the amount of the bond will be set by the probate court based on number of factors including the value of the estate, the relationship of the personal representative to the beneficiaries, any family allowance, the type and nature of assets, exempt property, known creditors, whether the personal representative lives locally, and liens and encumbrances on the assets. There is premium that must be paid for the bond. While the personal representative may have to pay it from his or her own funds, typically it is an expense of managing the estate and is reimbursable from estate assets.
The amount of the premium is also based on a number of factors, including the amount of coverage needed and the creditworthiness of the personal representative. For example, the annual premium for a $50,000 bond may be approximately $275-$350. Bonds renew annually, and the premium is due with each renewal. Probate cases in Florida generally close within 12 month. However, cases can extend well over a year. As a skilled probate attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, each year the probate case is open the premium must be paid unless the probate court judge decides that bond is no longer required.Related Statutory Provisions
- Bond of fiduciary; when required; form : § 733.402, Fla. Stat.
- Liability of surety: § 733.404, Fla. Stat.
- Release of surety: § 733.405, Fla. Stat.
- Bond premium allowable as expense of administration : § 733.406, Fla. Stat.
All bonds required by this part shall be in the penal sum that the court deems sufficient after consideration of the gross value of the estate, the relationship of the personal representative to the beneficiaries, exempt property and any family allowance, the type and nature of assets, known creditors, and liens and encumbrances on the assets.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
If you are an interested party in a probate proceeding and you have questions about the bond requirement as described in Florida Statutes, section 733.403- Amount of bond, it is important that you discuss your concerns with an experienced probate attorney serving Fort Lauderdale. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have over twenty years of experience representing clients in matters related to probate and estate administration and understand the bond requirements and other rules of the Florida Probate Code. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.