When an individual chooses to draft a will in Washington, they must designate a person — anyone of their choosing — who will fulfill their desires. The executor will act in the best interest of their estate and beneficiaries as per the law. However, no one can be sure they’ll do this job perfectly. This is where a probate bond comes in.
Understanding a probate bond
A probate bond is a surety bond that protects the beneficiaries and creditors of an estate in case something happens to the executor. In simple terms, it’s like an insurance policy that guarantees that a third party will take care of the estate if the executor doesn’t fulfill their duties as expected.
How probate bonds work
A probate bond is a contract between three parties: the executor, the surety company (insurance company) and the interested parties of the estate. The executor purchases the bond from a surety company by paying a small premium (usually a percentage of the estate’s value). If the executor fails to fulfill their duties, the beneficiaries or creditors can claim the bond and receive compensation.
When a probate bond is necessary
In the state of Washington, a probate bond is not obligatory. The decision to obtain one rests with the executor and the court. Circumstances that might trigger the need for a probate bond include:
- When the executor is not a resident of Washington
- When the estate has significant assets and complex financial arrangements
- When there are concerns about the executor’s ability or willingness to fulfill their duties properly
- When the will specifies that the executor must obtain the bond
A probate bond acts as a safety net, providing comfort and confidence to all parties involved in the asset distribution process. Even though it is not mandatory, an executor should consider it, especially if their unique circumstances require it.