Tennessee Personal Representative Bond: A Comprehensive Guide
September 21, 2022
This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain a Tennessee 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: Most personal representatives handling the estates of deceased Tennessee 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 Tennessee: The probate or chancery court with jurisdiction over where the deceased individual resided or had property
Tennessee Statute 30-1-101 requires all personal representatives of an estate to be appointed by a court before assuming their fiduciary duties. The Tennessee 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 a personal representative to purchase a probate surety bond to be eligible for appointment.
What is the Purpose of the Tennessee Personal Representative Bond?
Tennessee 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 Tennessee Statute 30-1-201 et seq. Specifically, the bond protects beneficiaries and creditors if the personal representative 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.
How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain a Tennessee Personal Representative Surety Bond?
BondExchange makes obtaining a Tennessee 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?
Tennessee Statute 30-1-201 grants the probate court the authority to determine the required bond amount on a case-by-case basis. All bonds must be in an amount that is at least the full value of the estate. However, bonds may not be in an amount that is more than twice the estate’s value. Additionally, Tennessee Statute 30-1-202 states that any person with an interest in the estate may petition the court to increase the bond amount (as long as it doesn’t exceed twice the estate’s value).
What are the Underwriting Requirements for the Tennessee Personal Representative Bond?
Most surety companies will examine the following factors when determining eligibility for the Tennessee 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 Tennessee 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 Tennessee Personal Representative bond:
$1,500,000 Personal Representative Bond Cost
|Bond Amount||Premium Rate||Total Bond Cost|
|Total cost of $4,715|
Who is Required to Purchase the Tennessee Personal Representative Bond?
Tennessee requires personal representatives to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a fiduciary appointment. To paraphrase Tennessee Statute 31-1-101, 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, or administrators if they were not nominated in the will or if no will exists.
Personal representatives are not required to purchase a bond if:
- The will explicitly waives the bond requirement
- They are the sole beneficiary of the estate and the court agrees to waive the bond requirement
- All estate beneficiaries are competent adults and agree to waive the bond requirement
- They are a bank that is exempt from the bonding requirement under Tennessee Statute 45-2-1005
How do Personal Representatives Become Appointed in Tennesee?
Personal representatives in Tennessee must navigate several steps to become court-appointed fiduciaries. Below are the general guidelines, but applicants should refer to Tennessee’s executor and administrator statutes as well as the state’s probate manual for details on the process.
Step 1 – Establish Priority
Priority for appointment as a personal representative will be granted in the following order:
- Persons nominated in the will
- The deceased individual’s spouse
- Any next of kin
- Creditors of the deceased individual
Step 2 – Hire an Attorney
Although not explicitly required, it is highly recommended that personal representatives hire an attorney to assist with the probate process.
Step 3 – Contact the Court
Persons with priority must contact the chancery or probate court with jurisdiction over the estate to obtain their appointment. 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. Personal representatives must submit a petition for appointment containing all the information outlined in Tennessee Statute 30-1-117 and should file a formal death certificate and the original will (if any) with the court. Additionally, personal representatives must swear an oath before receiving their appointment.
Any person with an interest in the estate may object to the personal representative’s appointment and may petition the court for their removal.
Step 4 – Purchase a Surety Bond
Unless otherwise exempt, personal representatives must purchase and maintain a surety bond (limits outlined above).
How do Tennessee Personal Representatives File Their Bonds?
Personal representatives should submit their completed bond forms, including the power of attorney, to the chancery or probate court with jurisdiction over the estate.
The surety bond requires signatures from both the surety company that issues the bond and the personal representative. The surety company should include the following information on the bond form:
- Court where the bond is to be filed
- Name of the estate deceased individual
- Legal name of the entity/individual(s) buying the bond
- Surety company’s name
- Bond amount
- Date the bond is signed
- Date the fiduciary appointment was made
What can Tennessee Personal Representatives do to Avoid Claims Made Against Their Bonds?
To avoid claims against their bonds, personal representatives in Tennessee must ensure that they:
- Fulfill their fiduciary duties
- Do not mismanage the estate’s assets
- Pay all required court costs, attorney’s fees, and other relevant expenses