When a person dies his property is usually distributed to heirs by the estate’s personal representative.
Before a personal representative can distribute estate property, he must get authority from probate court.
The court will require several documents from the personal representative before it will grant such authority.
One of the documents that the personal representative must submit is a bond.
The Massachusetts’ probate bond is available at mass.gov as form MPC 801.
By filling out and signing this form, the personal representative is promising to fulfill his duties to the estate and its heirs in good faith. Moreover, if the personal representative misuses the estate’s assets, he shall be personally liable to the court.
A bond will be signed without sureties, with personal sureties, or with corporate sureties.
A surety is like a co-signer for the personal representative. If the personal representative misuses the estate’s assets, the personal representative and his sureties will be liable to the court and the estate for the money lost.
According to Massachusetts law, a bond may be filed without sureties if
- the decedent’s will states that sureties are not needed, or
- all heirs waive the requirement for sureties, or
- the personal representative is a qualified bank or trust company, or
- the court concludes that it is in the best interest of the estate to waive the sureties requirement.
If sureties are necessary, a personal representative may have two disinterested people sign the bond as personal sureties.
According to the bond form these personal sureties shall be liable “for losses caused by improper administration of the estate by the [personal representative].”
Each surety must reside in Massachusetts and possess enough assets to compensate the estate for any loss it suffers from the personal representative’s misconduct.
If the personal representative is unable to find personal sureties, then he must purchase a corporate surety from a bank or insurance company that provides such services.
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