Indiana Personal Representative Bond: A Comprehensive Guide

December 26, 2022

Indiana Personal Representative Bond

This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain an Indiana Personal Representative bond.

At a Glance:

  • Average Cost: Calculated based on a tiered structure
  • Bond Amount: Determined on a case-by-case basis (more on this later)
  • Who Needs it: Certain personal representatives handling the estates of deceased Indiana residents or property owners
  • Purpose: To ensure estate beneficiaries and creditors receive compensation if the personal representative mishandles the estate’s assets
  • Who Regulates Personal Representatives in Indiana: The local court of the county where the deceased individual resided or had property

Background

Indiana Code 29-1-7-5 requires all personal representatives of an estate to be appointed by a court before assuming their fiduciary duties. The Indiana legislature enacted the appointment requirement to ensure that personal representatives do not mismanage the estate’s assets. To provide financial security for the enforcement of this requirement, the court may require the personal representative to purchase a probate surety bond to be eligible for appointment.

What is the Purpose of the Indiana Personal Representative Bond?

Indiana requires personal representatives to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to being appointed as a fiduciary over an estate’s assets. The bond ensures that the estate’s beneficiaries and creditors will receive compensation for financial harm if the personal representative fails to abide by the regulations outlined in Indiana Code 29-1-11-3. Specifically, the bond protects beneficiaries and creditors if the personal representative engages in fraud or mismanages the estate’s assets. In short, the bond is a type of insurance that protects the estate’s beneficiaries and creditors if the personal representative violates their fiduciary duties.

Indiana Personal Representative Bond Form
Indiana Personal Representative Bond Form

How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain an Indiana Personal Representative Surety Bond?

BondExchange makes obtaining an Indiana Personal Representative bond easy. Simply login to your account and use our keyword search to find the “Probate” bond in our database. Don’t have a login? Enroll now and let us help you satisfy your customers’ needs. Our friendly underwriting staff is available by phone (800) 438-1162, email or chat from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM EST to assist you.

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How is the Bond Amount Determined?

Indiana Code 29-1-7.5-2.5 grants the court the authority to set the required bond amount in any amount they see fit. For nonresident personal representatives, the bond amount must be equal to the value of the estate’s personal property and the income the estate is expected to generate during the probate period. The bond amount may not exceed the probable gross value of the estate.

What are the Underwriting Requirements for the Indiana Personal Representative Bond?

Most surety companies will examine the following factors when determining eligibility for the Indiana Personal Representative bond:

  • Personal representative’s credit history (not considered for bonds with limits less than $25,000)
  • Whether or not the estate has an attorney (not considered for bonds with limits less than $25,000)
  • How long the fiduciary appointment is for
  • Whether or not the personal representative is replacing a prior fiduciary
  • If the personal representative has ever committed a felony
  • If there are disputes among the estate’s beneficiaries
  • Whether or not there is any ongoing business in the estate
  • If the bond is being required by a creditor

How Much Does the Indiana Personal Representative Bond Cost?

Surety companies typically determine the premium rate for personal representative bonds based on a tiered structure. As a result, larger bond amounts will be charged a lower premium rate than smaller bonds.

The following table illustrates the pricing structure for the Indiana Personal Representative bond:

$1,500,000 Personal Representative Bond Cost

Bond Amount Premium Rate Total Bond Cost
First $20,000 0.75% $150
Next $40,000 0.60% $240
Next $140,000 0.50% $700
Next $300,000 0.375% $1,125
Next $1,000,000 0.25% $2,500
Total cost of $4,715

Who is Required to Purchase the Indiana Personal Representative Bond?

Indiana requires personal representatives to purchase a surety bond in the following situations:

  • The will explicitly requires one
  • An interested person (beneficiary or creditor) petitions the court to require one
  • The court determines one is necessary to protect the interests of estate beneficiaries and creditors
  • The personal representative does not live in Indiana

To paraphrase Indiana Code 29-1-1-3, a personal representative is a court-appointed fiduciary responsible for administering a deceased individual’s estate. Personal representatives are referred to as executors if the deceased individual nominated them in their will (testate), and administrators if they were not nominated if no will exists (intestate). Additionally, a special personal representative is someone temporarily appointed to administer the estate while a general personal representative is in the process of being appointed.

How do Personal Representatives Become Appointed in Indiana?

Personal representatives in Indiana must navigate several steps to become court-appointed fiduciaries. Below are the general guidelines, but applicants should refer to Indiana’s probate code for details on the process.

Step 1 – Meet the Qualifications

Personal representatives are ineligible for appointment if they are:

    • Under 18 years old
    • Incapacitated unless the incapacity is solely caused by physical illness, impairment, or infirmity
    • A convicted felon
    • A resident corporation not authorized to act as a fiduciary
    • Found unsuitable by the court

Step 2 – Determine Priority

Priority for appointment as a personal representative is granted in the following order:

    • Executors nominated in the will
    • The surviving spouse, provided they are a devisee of the estate (entitled to real property)
    • Any other devisee
    • The surviving spouse or any person they nominate
    • Any other heir or person nominated by them
    • Any other qualified person

 Step 3 – Hire an Attorney

Although not explicitly required, it is highly recommended that personal representatives hire an attorney to assist with the probate process.

Step 4 – Determine the Estate Administration Type:

Indiana has three distinct estate administration types, as outlined below:

    • Unsupervised: Personal representatives are able to administer the estate with minimal court supervision. Unsupervised administration is available if the following conditions are met:
      • All heirs and estate beneficiaries have joined in filing the petition and freely consent to unsupervised administration
      • The estate is solvent
      • The personal representative is qualified to administer the estate without court supervision
      • The will does not require supervised administration
    • Supervised: The court must approve of every action the personal representative takes
    • Small Estate: Probate is not required, and property may be distributed by via affidavit. Small estate administration is only available to estates worth less than $50,000.

Step 5 – Contact the Court

Personal representatives must contact the local court of the county with jurisdiction over the deceased individual’s estate. A representative of the court will walk the personal representative through the appointment process, provide them with all required forms, and answer any questions they may have.

Step 6 – Purchase a Surety Bond

Unless otherwise exempt, personal representatives must purchase and maintain a surety bond (limits outlined above).

How do Indiana Personal Representatives File Their Bonds?

Personal representatives should submit their completed bond forms, including the power of attorney, to the local court of the county with jurisdiction over the estate.

The surety bond requires signatures from the company that issues the bond and the personal representative. The surety company should include the following information on the bond form:

  • Legal name of the entity/individual(s) buying the bond
  • Surety company’s name
  • Bond amount
  • Date the bond is signed

What can Indiana Personal Representatives do to Avoid Claims Made Against Their Bonds?

To avoid claims against their bonds, personal representatives in Indiana must ensure that they:

  • Do not engage in any acts of fraud
  • Do not mismanage the estate’s assets
  • Fulfill their fiduciary duties