West Virginia Personal Representative Bond: A Comprehensive Guide
This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain a West Virginia Personal Representative bond.
At a Glance:
- Lowest Cost: Calculated based on a tiered structure
- Bond Amount: Equal to the full value of the deceased individual’s estate
- Who Needs it: Most personal representatives handling the estates of deceased West Virginia 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 West Virginia: The county court with jurisdiction over where the deceased individual resided or had property
West Virginia Statute 44-1-1 et seq. requires all personal representatives of an estate to be appointed by a probate court before assuming their fiduciary duties. The West Virginia 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, most personal representatives must purchase a probate surety bond to be eligible for appointment.
What is the Purpose of the West Virginia Personal Representative Bond?
West Virginia 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 West Virginia Statute 44-1-1 et seq. Specifically, the bond protects beneficiaries and creditors if the personal representative fails to adhere to all court orders 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.
How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain a West Virginia Personal Representative Surety Bond?
BondExchange makes obtaining a West Virginia 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? Gain access 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?
West Virginia Statute 44-1-7 dictates that the bond amount must be equal to the full value of the deceased individual’s estate, including all rents, profits, and incomes the estate generates.
What are the Underwriting Requirements for the West Virginia Personal Representative Bond?
Most surety companies will examine the following factors when determining eligibility for the West Virginia 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 West Virginia 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 West Virginia 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 Bond?
West Virginian requires personal representatives to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to becoming appointed as a fiduciary over an estate’s assets. To paraphrase West Virginia Statute 42-1-1, a personal representative is a person responsible for administering the assets of a deceased individual’s estate. Personal representatives are considered an executor when the deceased person appointed them in their will, or an administrator if the deceased individual did not leave a will.
Personal representatives are not required to purchase a bond if:
- They are a nonresident of the state and the will specifically states that no bond is required
- They are the sole beneficiary or distributee of the deceased individual’s estate (unless the will specifically requires a bond)
BondExchange now offers monthly pay-as-you-go subscriptions for surety bonds. Your customers are able to purchase their bonds on a monthly basis and cancel them anytime. Learn more here.
How do Personal Representatives Become Appointed in West Virginia?
Personal representatives in West Virginia must navigate several steps to become court-appointed fiduciaries. Below are the general guidelines, but applicants should refer to West Virginia’s probate statutes for details on the process.
Step 1 – Hire an Attorney
Although not required, it is highly recommended that personal representatives hire an attorney to assist with the probate process.
Step 2 – Determine Priority
Individuals named as the executor in the deceased individual’s will have priority to apply for appointment as a personal representative. If there is no will or if the will does not name an executor, the deceased individual’s spouse will have priority for appointment followed by other heirs or distributees. If no heir or distributee is appointed within 30 days of the individual’s death, a creditor of the deceased individual may apply for appointment.
Step 3 – Gather the Required Documents
Personal representatives must obtain an official death certificate and the deceased individual’s will (if any) and present it to the relevant county court.
Step 4 – Contact the County Court
Personal representatives should contact the county court with jurisdiction over the deceased individual’s estate. The court will have a probate office that will provide the personal representative guidance on how to obtain their appointment. Typically, once the applicant has proven they have priority to act as the personal representative and filled out the required forms, a staff member will appoint them on the spot (personal representatives must swear an oath to faithfully carry out their duties).
Step 5 – Purchase a Surety Bond
Unless otherwise exempt, personal representatives must purchase and maintain a surety bond in an amount equal to the full value of the deceased individual’s estate, including all rents, profits, and incomes the estate generates.
How do West Virginia Personal Representatives File Their Bonds?
Personal representatives should submit their completed bond forms, including the power of attorney, to the 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
- Legal name of the entity/individual(s) buying the bond
- Surety company’s name
- Bond amount
- Date the bond goes into effect
- Date the bond is signed
- Date the personal representative received their appointment
What can West Virginia Personal Representatives do to Avoid Claims Made Against Their Bonds?
To avoid claims against their bonds, personal representatives in West Virginia must ensure that they:
- Perform all of their fiduciary duties
- Obey all court orders
- Do not mismanage the estate’s assets