What to consider before becoming an indemnitor

We always want to do anything we can for our close friends and family if they are in need of help. For this reason, it would come as no surprise that people co-sign contracts for loved ones all the time. However, when it comes to things like bail bonds, just like co-signing to rent an apartment or car, it puts you in a place of financial vulnerability if the loved one for any reason does not live up to their end of the bargain. Here are some main things to thoroughly consider before becoming an indemnitor on a bail bond.

Only consider this for someone really close

We often see in the media how nonchalant it seems to bail someone out of jail. Sometimes they will bail out a drinking buddy or some acquaintance but in reality, you are tying yourself to that person for at least a few months. Bonds are expensive by design so it is not a small ask to get someone to take this on. They are either paying a hefty cost upfront or agreeing to use their own money and property as collateral. If you are considering co-signing a bail bond, it is best to save that type of commitment for your inner circle.  

Only do this for someone you completely trust

The entire point of a bail bond is that the person who is being charged shows up to their scheduled court dates. No matter how much we love someone, if there is any doubt at all that they may try to flee or break bond conditions then it may not be the best idea to co-sign their release. If it is someone that lives with you or someone you may be able to keep tabs on then there may be more comfort in knowing that there is some aspect of control but in the end, it is your money and if you fear you may be burned then it’s better to protect yourself.

Really think about if you can afford the worst-case scenario

No matter how much love and trust you have in someone, it is still best to always be prepared for the worst-case scenario. You are taking on financial responsibility for another person so even if it is unforeseen circumstances, if that person does not show up to court and does not take action to reschedule or make it right, then you will possibly have to forfeit whatever was used as collateral. If this was something like your entire life savings or your car or home then that would be life-altering. For this reason, we really suggest only putting up for collateral what you can afford. Overall, the chances of you having to lose anything should be low especially if you know and trust the defendant but it is still important to not risk anything that you can’t recover from, even if it is just for peace of mind and stress reduction.

To conclude, the main factor that one really needs to think about is trust. Make sure you fully trust the person you are signing as an indemnitor for and make all decisions based on what could happen if it all fell apart. Most likely it won’t happen but it’s best to have a plan and never need to use it.