Read on to learn about one of the worst pitfalls of not having a will.

And that is “bond.” If you pass away without a will, whoever administers your estate will most likely have to post a bond with the probate court. Most people associate bond with criminal cases, but it is something we occasionally see in civil cases.

The purpose of a probate bond is to protect the estate’s assets from fraud/bad faith on the part of the executor. For example, if they embezzle money or otherwise improperly distribute assets, the bond would ensure that the beneficiaries still receive an inheritance. There are some exceptions to having to post bond in Ohio, but what if your heirs do not meet any of these?

Whoever is going to be appointed as the estate’s personal representative will have to apply for bond, which is similar to applying for a credit card. There will be an application to fill out and a soft credit check. Once that is approved, they will have to pay the bond company a percentage of the total bond amount as a premium. In some cases, this can run as high as a few thousand dollars. The bond company then executes the bond and it is filed with the court along with other probate forms required to open an estate.

Wills usually contain a clause such as “I direct that no bond be required of my Executor.” In most cases, this is good enough for the probate court and bond will not have to be filed.

Is it bad if your heirs have to post bond? No, but it is an extra expense and extra step that they are likely unfamiliar with, and it will almost certainly delay the start of the already length probate process.

Hopefully you have already met with an estate planning attorney and taken care of this, but if not, the next step is to call 740.535.7214 to request our FREE books to learn more about the probate process and how you can avoid the hassles completely if you want to.