If you are named as a personal representative in a Florida probate case, you may need to purchase bond and provide proof of bond to the probate court. A bond is somewhat similar an insurance policy that insures interested persons in the probate estate from damage caused by a personal representative. This can include a breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, or other issues that cause damage to interested persons in a Florida probate estate due to the actions of the personal representative.

The requirement for bond in Florida probate cases is governed by section 733.402, Florida Statutes. Under section 733.402(1), Florida Statutes, “Unless the bond requirement has been waived by the will or by the court, every fiduciary to whom letters are granted shall execute and file a bond with surety, as defined by s. 45.011, to be approved by the clerk without a service fee. The bond shall be payable to the Governor and the Governor’s successors in office, conditioned on the performance of all duties as personal representative according to law. The bond must be joint and several.” Under section 733.402(3), Florida Statutes, the requirement of bond does not apply to banks and trust companies authorized to serve as a personal representative under the law. Furthermore, a petition may be filed by the personal representative or another interested person for the court to issue an order waiving bond. The court may also waive the requirement for bond may be waived by the court on its own motion. These requirements are also set out in Florida Probate Rule 5.235.

Section 733.403, Florida Statutes sets out the requirements for the amount of bond required. Under section 733.403, Florida Statutes, “All bond 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.”

The requirement for bond may differ from each circuit in Florida. For example, in our experience, Pinellas County probate courts, in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, tend to require bond for all personal representatives, even if a will states that bond is not required. The Clerk of Court for Pinellas County has a website for personal representatives that sets out the amount of bond required depending on the value of the assets in a probate estate. In order circuits in Florida, bond is not an automatic requirement, and may be waived by the court upon the filing of the petition required by section 733.402, Florida Statutes. For example, Collier takes a case by case basis approach. Check with your Florida probate attorney and bond issuer if this happens to you.

If you are named as a personal representative and are concerned about the requirement of a bond, you should talk to your Florida probate attorney. Your attorney will be able to explain this part of the Florida probate administration process to you and arrange for the bond. If you are named as a personal representative in a will, contact us today for a free consultation.

 

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