Iowa Conservator Bond: A Comprehensive Guide
This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain an Iowa Conservator 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: Most conservators appointed as fiduciaries in Iowa
- Purpose: To ensure the protected person receives compensation for financial harm if the conservator mishandles their estate
- Who Regulates Conservator Bonds in Iowa: The district court in the county where the protected person resides
Iowa Code 633.553 requires all conservators to be appointed by a court before assuming their fiduciary duties. The Iowa legislature enacted the appointment requirement to ensure that conservators act in the protected person’s best interests when managing their estate. To provide financial security for the enforcement of this requirement, most conservators must purchase and maintain a probate surety bond before becoming appointed as a fiduciary.
What is the Purpose of the Iowa Conservator Bond?
Iowa requires most conservators to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to being appointed as a fiduciary over a protected person’s estate. The bond ensures that the protected person will receive compensation for financial harm if the conservator fails to abide by the regulations outlined in Iowa Code 633.174. Specifically, the bond protects the protected person if the conservator fails to adhere to all court orders or mismanages the estate’s assets.
For example, if a conservator uses money from the protected person’s bank account to pay for the conservator’s personal expenses or mixes the estate’s funds with their own, the protected person can file a claim against the conservator’s bond to recoup their losses. In short, the bond is a type of insurance in favor of the protected person if the conservator does not fulfill their fiduciary duties.
How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain an Iowa Conservator Bond?
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How is the Bond Amount Determined?
Iowa Code 633.170 dictates that the bond amount must equal the value of the estate’s personal property plus the estimated income to be generated by the estate during the period of the conservatorship.
The bond amount may be reduced, at the discretion of the court, by the value of any personal property deposited with a bank or trust company located in Iowa. Conservators that do not wish to purchase a bond may request to submit another form of financial security instead, such as a cash deposit.
Can the Bond Amount be Adjusted?
Yes, as Iowa Code 633.180 authorizes the court to adjust the bond amount or require an additional bond if the current bond is insufficient.
What are the Underwriting Requirements for the Iowa Conservator Bond?
Most surety companies will examine the following factors when determining eligibility for the Iowa Conservator bond:
- Conservator’s credit history
- Whether or not the estate has an attorney
- Whether or not the conservator is a family member
- The conservator’s occupation
- Whether or not the conservator is replacing a prior fiduciary
- If the conservator has ever committed a felony
- Whether or not there is any ongoing business in the estate
- If a creditor is requiring the bond
- If the bond amount is greater than or equal to the estate’s value
How Much Does the Iowa Conservator Bond Cost?
Surety companies typically determine the premium rate for Conservator bonds based on a tiered structure, so larger bond amounts will be charged a lower premium rate than smaller bonds.
The following table illustrates the pricing structure for the Iowa Conservator bond:
$1,500,000 Conservator Bond Cost
|Bond Amount||Premium Rate||Total Bond Cost|
|Total cost of $4,715|
Who is Required to Purchase the Bond?
Iowa requires most conservators to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to becoming a court-appointed fiduciary. To paraphrase Iowa Code 633.3, a conservator is an individual or corporation who is appointed as a fiduciary with decision-making authority over a protected person’s estate. Likewise, a “protected person” is defined as a minor or adult for whom a conservator has been appointed that is deemed incapable of managing their estate.
Conservators are not required to purchase a bond if they are a bank or trust company, or if the bond requirement was waived in a will. However, Iowa Code 633.172 allows for the court to require a bond at any point during the conservatorship if they determine one is necessary.
How do Iowa Conservators Become Appointed as Fiduciaries?
Conservators in Iowa must navigate several steps to become appointed as fiduciaries. Below are the general guidelines, but appointees should refer to the appointment statutes for details on the process.
Step 1 – Hire an Attorney
Although not explicitly required, it is highly recommended that conservators hire an attorney to assist with the conservatorship process.
Step 2 – File a Petition for Appointment
Persons seeking a conservatorship over a protected person must file a petition for appointment with the district court of the county where the protected person resides. Conservators can obtain the necessary forms online here or from the district court, and must include the following information:
- Personal information of the protected person and their relatives
- Personal information about the person seeking conservatorship
- General statement and evaluation of the person’s estate and condition
- The reasoning for why a conservatorship is necessary
- Any additional information requested by the court
Conservators must pay a filing fee to begin the appointment process and can use the protected person’s assets to pay the fee. The court will also require the conservator to complete a court-ordered background check prior to the hearing (more on this in Step 4).
Step 3 – Notify the Protected Person
After submitting the required items to the court, persons seeking conservatorship must have another adult, known as a server, notify the protected person of the case and provide them with a copy of the petition.
Step 4 – Attend a Hearing
Conservators must attend a hearing conducted by the district court and present evidence as to why the protected person is in need of conservatorship. The court will examine the evidence presented by the conservator as well as that presented by the protected person being evaluated (if any) and make a determination as to whether or not conservatorship is necessary.
Any interested person can apply to the court to participate in the hearing. If the court finds a basis for the appointment, it will issue a letter of conservatorship to the petitioner.
Step 5 – Purchase a Surety Bond
Unless otherwise exempt, conservators must purchase and maintain a surety bond (limits outlined above).
How do Iowa Conservators File Their Bonds?
Conservators should submit their completed bond forms, including the power of attorney, to the district court in the county where the protected person resides.
The surety bond requires signatures from the company that issues the bond and the conservator. 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 and state of incorporation
- Bond amount
- Date the bond is signed
- Date of the appointment
- Type of fiduciary relationship
- Name and county of the district court
What can Iowa Conservators do to Avoid Claims Made Against Their Bonds?
To avoid claims against their bonds, conservators in Iowa must ensure that they:
- Perform all of their fiduciary duties
- Obey all court orders
- Do not mismanage the estate’s assets