New Law Requires Any Fiduciary Of A New Jersey Estate For A Developmentally Disabled Beneficiary To Post A Bond In Superior Court

Gov. Jon Corzine recently signed into law new legislation that requires fiduciaries of estates for developmentally disabled individuals to post bonds in Superior Court as a safeguard against theft and other improper conduct.

The bill, S-550 , sponsored by Sen. Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, goes into effect in 60 days.

S-550 requires that the amount of the bond for each developmentally disabled person’s estate to be set by the court based on the size of the estate. In addition, the fiduciary must provide the court with an estate accounting every five years. Copies of the estate accounting must be filed with the state Department of the Public Advocate, which is authorized to file exceptions and objections on behalf of the disabled beneficiary.

There are exceptions to the bonding and accounting requirements.  No bond will be required when:

  1. There is a court appointed guardian for the disabled beneficiary;
  2. The fiduciary is a family member within the third degree of consanguinity of the beneficiary (this includes, for example, the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the beneficiary; parents, siblings, nephews/ nieces, grandnephews/ grandnieces of the beneficiary; grandparents, uncles, aunts or first cousins of the beneficiary, just to name a few);
  3. A corporate fiduciary or community trust is serving as fiduciary; or,
  4. The value of the estate or trust does not exceed $25,000.

After the signing, the sponsor, Sen. Stephen Sweeney, said: “This law will help ensure that people with developmental disabilities aren’t taken advantage of by fiduciaries during the execution of a will. It’s unfortunate that we need such legal protections, but as the father of a young woman with Down syndrome, I felt there was more we must do to protect the assets of this vulnerable population.”