What Is a Court Bond? [Ultimate Guide to Judicial & Probate Bonds]

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What is a court bond?

Court bonds, also called judicial bonds, are court-ordered surety bonds for specific legal matters. The primary purpose of these bonds is typically to protect one party against losses they could suffer due to another party’s failure to perform their duties.

If the court requires you to get a bond, you’ll be held responsible for fulfilling your legal responsibilities. If you fail, the court can file a claim against the bond, and you may end up having to pay out the total bond amount.

In This Guide…

  • What is a court bond?
  • Who needs a court bond?
  • Types of Court Bonds (Probate Bonds & Judicial Bonds)
  • What do court bonds cost?
  • Court & Probate Bond Requirements
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs a court bond?

There are different court bonds for different types of proceedings. Two of the most common situations where you may need a court bond are 1) if you’re working toward becoming a legal guardian or 2) you’re the executor of an estate. Involvement in criminal defense matters and litigation may also require bonds.

During litigation, property is often in dispute between the parties involved in business litigation, a divorce, or a proceeding involving a government or municipal entity. Many court bonds may help protect the value and integrity of the property at issue while the litigation is in progress (which may take months or even years).

A probate bond helps protect a deceased person’s estate from negligence or fraud on behalf of the executor (the person responsible for distributing and managing the assets). Most probate cases require a bond unless:

  • A valid will explicitly waives the bond requirement, or 
  • All heirs sign a waiver of bond.

If you’re working on becoming the legal guardian of a minor or disabled person, you’ll need a surety bond.Various types of bonds may protect property or assets in dispute during court proceedings.

Types of Court Bonds (Probate Bonds & Judicial Bonds)

Probate (Fiduciary) Bonds

A probate (or fiduciary) bond is a court-ordered bond for an individual or entity-appointed representative of an estate. Examples of this appointed role include estate administrators and executors.

A probate bond ensures that an estate’s personal representative is honest and trustworthy while carrying out their duties during the probate process. The bond protects the estate and its beneficiaries from illegal activities like fraud and embezzlement. If the bondholder takes advantage of their role, beneficiaries of an estate may file a claim for any damages they suffer.


Various types of estate bonds ensure the executor fulfills their duties according to state or local laws.


If you’re working on becoming the legal guardian of someone – a minor or disabled person – you’ll need a surety bond.

Judicial Bonds

A judicial bond is a type of court bond that ensures defendants and plaintiffs can pay for the costs of a lawsuit or other legal action. Judicial bonds are related to civil court proceedings and are required by a judge. The United States Admiralty Courts also require them.

The court may require you to obtain a judicial bond before entering a civil proceeding if you seek a special right or remedy before a final court decision is made. By signing the bond agreement, you promise to pay the party on the opposing side of legal action if you fail to carry out your duties properly.

In short, a judicial bond protects one party against losses unjustly caused by an opposing party. Remember: Court bonds are court-ordered bonds. Judicial bonds are judge-ordered bonds.


A plaintiff must obtain a plaintiff bond to protect the defendant if the plaintiff loses the lawsuit. If the defendant loses money because of how the court proceeding plays out, the plaintiff will be held financially liable for covering the damages.


A defendant can also purchase a bond to counteract the effects of a plaintiff’s bond.

Other Court Bonds

ZipBonds provides thousands of bond options, including court and probate bonds.

What do court bonds cost?

Individuals who need a bond pay a percentage of the overall worth of the bond. The issuer of the bond (the surety) puts up its total value as a guarantee to the court.

Judicial Bond Cost

Judicial bonds, including many court and appeal bonds, generally cost 1-7% of the bond amount. The percentage may depend on the nature of the action, the property involved, and the principal’s creditworthiness. Judicial bonds often also require the attachment of “collateral” – property of value – to secure the bond amount.

Probate Bond Cost

Probate bond costs vary based on the coverage required. Typically, the courts will set your bond limit based on the total estate value you will be responsible for. And then you, as the personal representative, will pay a portion of that value – typically around 0.5%. The probate bond protects the entire value of the estate.

Although representatives must purchase the bond out-of-pocket before the court appoints them, they may use estate funds to reimburse themselves for the cost once the estate is opened.

Court and Probate Bond Requirements

You must provide valid identification and contact information to obtain your bond. Your bond provider may also ask for financial documentation, court documents related to your case, and other information.

You must pay a premium (a small percentage of the total bond amount) to obtain your bond. Depending on the amount secured, you may also be required to undergo a credit check. Judicial bonds typically require the attachment of “collateral” (property of value) as well.

What You’ll Need:

  • Valid ID
  • Contact information
  • Financial documentation
  • Court documents related to your case
  • Payment
  • Credit check
  • Attachment of collateral (if applicable)

Frequently Asked Questions

The most common probate bonds are administrator, executor, conservator, guardian, and trustee bonds.

Most individuals can obtain court or probate bonds even with low credit scores. You may have to pay higher fees or put down a higher percentage of the bond amount.

If you no longer need your court bond, we will require a letter from the court showing that the bond has been released.

Return of the principal for court bonds varies depending on the nature of the litigation and the type of fiduciary bond. For probate bonds, the amount paid may be returned to the personal representative upon final settlement and closure of the estate (or to the estate itself if the representative was reimbursed for its cost).

ZipBonds loves partnering with agents. We’ll help you save time, remove uncertainty, and grow your book of business. Our team provides everything you need to start selling court bonds quickly. 

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Contact ZipBonds for Court Bonds

ZipBonds makes getting a bond faster and easier than anyone else. Simply apply online, and our professional underwriters will get to work! Find the best court bond options from the top surety companies in the nation. If you have any questions, our agents are happy to help! Call (888) 435-4191 or email support@zipbonds.com. We also have Live Chat on our website during regular business hours.

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