An attorney retainer letter diminishes some of the risk of fiduciary and probate bonds. The letter states the principal on the bond – the administrator, executor, or guardian – will keep their attorney involved throughout the entire duration of the principal’s appointment. Sureties prefer to maintain the attorney’s involvement during these appointments because attorneys have the expertise and knowledge to ensure a smooth and orderly administration or guardianship.

The letter typically states the attorney will assist the principal with drafting and filing the yearly accounting documents, as well as any other pertinent documents such as orders, affirmations, and ex parte orders of discharge. The attorneys prepare these documents and submit them to the court for a judge’s approval. Sureties must see all yearly accounting documents to verify the guardian or administrator has complied with the court and has not mishandled funds. As a further safeguard, the letter may state the principal must keep all funds and accounts within the state of jurisdiction.

Retainer letters always promise the principal will pay the premiums in a timely manner. Indemnity agreements already state this, but many Principals overlook or forget this important aspect. All filed accounting documents must take into consideration the paid premiums on the surety bond.

Usually, the attorney drafts the letter and presents it on their law firm’s letterhead. The attorney and the principal both sign the letter.The attorney and principal address the letter to the Surety undertaking the bond. The letter indicates the principal’s application for the bond as well as the bond amount.

Finally, the letter provides a provision in the event the principal changes attorneys. In the event of a change of counsel, the principal and/or attorney must notify the surety immediately. If the principal changes attorneys, it may indicate a disagreement between the parties and could potentially lead to claims. In any event, a fiduciary should always retain the services of an excellent attorney to help guide them through the sophisticated legal landscape of their appointment.