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Does A "Nonresident Personal Representative" of a California Estate Have To Post Bond?

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In a time when families are often geographically distant, it is not uncommon to have a California relative die without a Will ("intestate") and without any family members in California to administer his or her estate. If a resident of Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Rosa or any other California county dies without a Will leaving sufficient assets to require Court oversight, a personal representative will need to be appointed to administer his or her estate. It is the Superior Court in the county where the decedent lived that will make the appointment of an administrator as the personal representative of the estate (Probate Code Section 8460).

The appointment of a personal administrator goes by order of priority - spouses first, children then grandchildren and so on. (Probate Code Section 8461). If the personal administrator is a "nonresident personal representative" - that is a nonresident of California - the Superior Court "in its discretion may require a nonresident personal representative to give bond in an amount determined by the court" (Probate Code Section 8571).

The power of the Court to require a bond is an occasional surprise to nonresident personal representatives and their family members. This is particularly true where the most qualified person to be a personal representative lives out of state and less qualified members live in the state. I've heard the equivalent of "why should a neurosurgeon living in Reno have to post bond when a numbskull in Roseville doesn't?" Well again, this is left to the discretion of the Court.

The question sometimes asked (in so many words) is whether the filing of bond waivers (Form DE-142/111(A-3d)) by the next of kin intestate heirs will mandate that the Superior Court appoint the nonresident personal representative without bond. The answer - in a word - "no." The court retains its discretion to require a bond.

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