When a person dies without a will or trust, their assets are subject to the laws of probate within their state. While these laws will differ from state to state, many states follow similar legal protocols when it comes to distributing a person’s assets, which can include:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
Note: if you have a relative who has passed away without having created a will or setup some type of trust, it’s best to contact an attorney who specializes in probate laws within your state.
Know the Probate Laws in Your State
When a person doesn’t have a clear beneficiary or beneficiaries spelled out by a will or trust, their estate enters the probate process, whereby the courts will divide the assets according to the laws that govern their state. There are statutory guidelines that dictates who gets which assets, and it usually follows the deceased person’s bloodline. It is also up to the court’s discretion as to whether or not the distribution of the estate, via an administrator, will be supervised or unsupervised. Most of the time it is treated as supervised and is overseen by the court.
Are Surety Bonds Required?
When an estate goes to probate, the court will generally appoint a Personal Representative or Special Administrator to oversee the distribution of the deceased’s assets. After this person is appointed, he or she may also be required by the courts to obtain a specific surety bond that is called an administrator bond.
The courts will usually recommend administrator bonds if there is no will for a few reasons. First, there may be people who are entitled to money or assets who may not know they are. Second, the bond will protect the heirs to the estate in the event of fraud or mismanagement. Administrator bonds provide financial recompense in the event that the administrator does not properly distribute the deceased person’s assets. They are a form of protection that are often necessary and even required.
Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need legal counsel, please contact an attorney directly.