Exonerate a Surety Bond

Surety bond exoneration

 

A trial is over.  The case is settled.  An estate is closed.  What now?  What do you do with the surety bond?

We at Jurisco are asked all the time:  How do you properly discharge (or exonerate) a surety bond once it is no longer necessary, or after all the claims are settled.   More specifically, what does the court require and what does the surety company require to be satisfied that there won’t be any future claims coming against the bond?    This can be a big headache for surety, the court and your clients if not handled properly.  For one, if not properly notified, the surety company will assume that the bond is still active and will continue to operate as such; i.e. keep the risk on their books and bill the client for annual premiums.  This can lead to an accounting hassle for the client as they had been operating as their obligation to the surety (and all claimants was satisfied).

What the surety and the courts are looking for is:  A statement from the court stipulating that “The Surety is released from all future liability and claim against the bond”  Sometimes this will be found in the settlement agreement.  In a non-settled case this language is generally found in the satisfaction of judgement. Surety companies also look for an ‘order of discharge’ from the court stating that the Surety is released from all liability and claims against the bond.   The ‘Order of discharge’ is most often used in probate and elder care cases where bond is required to be kept current throughout the duration of care in a guardianship/conservatorship or for the duration of fiduciary responsibilities is a personal representative is managing an estate through the probate process.

If you have any question about any part of the surety bond process, please contact the experts at Jurisco and one of their staff will be happy to answer any of your queries.

Guardianship Bonds California

Guardianship Bond California

 

Taking Care of Loved Ones With Guardianship Bonds in California

A recent article on Huffington Post by anti-elder abuse advocate Carol Herman outlines the much too common tragedy of when Guardians neglect and abuse their wards (full article found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carole-herman/conservatorships-beware_b_1785309.html)

As the baby boomer  generation gets older they are reminded just how much times have changed when their kids no longer have the funds nor the time to take care of them as they would just a few decades ago.  Now families live in single unit housing and are often separated by state lines from their loved ones. This can make it especially hard when that special person in your life is declared incompetent or where a judge has ruled that a guardian should be named to oversee an estate or a person’s life.

Think of a guardianship bond as extra protection for the ones you hold most dear because in reality that is what it is doing. With this type of surety bond, Jurisco can protect your estate and family by making sure the guardian does everything he/she is supposed to do and without making too many withdrawals from the family bank. A guardianship bond serves as a surety to ensure the guardian upholds their end of the bargain and does so with no ill will.

Loved ones can be declared incompetent due to age, disease, or for any number of reasons. If you think this ruling has been unjust, Jurisco can help you there too. Using this type of surety bond brings peace of mind to people who cannot be there physically to do the work of a nurse, hospice worker, or other at home aide worker. A guardianship bond will protect your loved one’s interests and help ensure their quality of life does not decline simply because they are declared incompetent.

While this scenario rings true with grandparents and the elderly, age isn’t going to stop the court from ruling someone incompetent. Children who are under the age of 18 may require a guardianship care should they lose their parents, for example.

Whatever the reason, Jurisco can help secure a guardianship surety bond that will protect the interest of the family, business, or estate. Our team has the tools necessary to help make the transition an easy one and make sure everyone is on the same page. At the end of the day we just want to ensure people are taken care of the way they deserve to be. Let us help you by helping them.

Personal Representatives and Probate Sales in California

Personal Representative Bond California

As one of the most experienced surety bond agencies in the California, we at Jurisco help thousands of clients every year when they are seeking a Personal Representative Bond (aka Executor Bond).  Two questions we often receive are, “What is the process for selling real estate under probate?”  And, more specifically, “What is the difference in Personal Representative responsibilities for ‘full authority’ and ‘limited authority’ designations?”  As to the latter question, the main difference is in reporting to the court; but more on this in a minute.  For the former question, well, there are many resources to help with Probate sales of real property.

Article in the San Francisco Chronicle online (full link: here), and on Fox Business online (full link: here), describe the process of a probate sale of real property, including the steps required by the Personal Representative.   The most detailed summary of the probate sale process, however is provided by the California Association of Realtors (CAR) found: here.  The thorough people at CAR answer almost four dozen of the most important questions a Personal Representative or real estate professional need to know before entering into a probate sale.

Remember the second question from above?  “What are the differences between “full” and “limited” authority pertaining to a probate sale?”  The differences are outlined in the Independent Administration Of Estates Act (IAEA).   As described on the CAR website and under the IAEA:

If the court grants only limited authority to the personal representative, he/she has the power to do all acts allowed under the IAEA rules except the power to: (1) sell real property, (2) exchange real property, (3) grant an option to purchase real property; or (4) borrow money with a loan secured by an encumbrance on real property. With limited authority, court supervision is required.

On the other hand, full authority granted under IAEA rules allows the personal representative to sell real property, exchange real property, grant an option to purchase real property, or borrow money with a loan secured by real property at his or her discretion. (Link)

So you can see the primary differences between ‘full’ and ‘limited’ authority are the ability to sell real property without court supervision.  This is an important factor to consider if you are interested in probate sales or if you have been appointed personal representative and the estate you are administering includes real property.

Since this post is dealing with probate sales, many of the Personal Representatives mentioned above would be required to be bonded in order that other beneficiaries of the estate and all creditors will be satisfied that faithful execution of fiduciary responsibilities will be carried out.  If you or your clients have any questions regarding Personal Representative Bonds or probate sales of real estate, contact the surety bond experts at Jurisco and one of their friendly staff will answer all your questions.

Employee Fidelity Bond California

Fidelity Bond California

At Jurisco, we know that hiring can be complicated.  Hiring can also create a large amount of stress for employers who are concerned about their products and the ramifications if valuable trade secrets find their way to competitors.  Specifically, they are concerned that these secrets are going to walk out the front door in the pockets of their employees.   There is a surety product, however, that can offset some of that worry.  Named an Employee Fidelity Bond, this protective agreement allows employers to rest easier knowing that is an extra layer of protections surrounding their products and design secrets.  This year on Bloomberg.com, author Karen Gullo reports on a trade secrets case with billions of dollars in ramifications (see full article here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-05/california-man-guilty-of-stealing-dupont-trade-secrets.html).  This is a worst case scenario for many employers in California; but the appropriate application of the employee fidelity bond could stave off isolated cases of employee trade secret theft from becoming an epidemic.

Investopedia defines a fidelity bond as:A form of business insurance that offers an employer protection against losses – either monetary or physical – caused by its employees’ fraudulent or dishonest actions. Fidelity bonds are often held by insurance companies and brokerage firms, which are specifically required to carry protection proportional to their net capital. Among the possible forms of loss a fidelity bond covers include fraudulent trading, theft and forgery.  (Link)

When applying for a Employee Fidelity Bond (a.k.a. employee dishonesty insurance in Australia) it is important to remember a couple of points:  First the bond can be either a ‘blanket bond’ that applies to all employees or it can be specific to an individual and their specific responsibilities.  Second, the bond only covers the certain guidelines established in the original agreement.  When job functions change, the bond will need to be renewed to reflect the changes.

If you have any more questions regarding Employee Fidelity Bonds please contact the surety bond experts at Jurisco and one of their helpful staff will be happy to answer any questions regarding rates, applications or more information.

ERISA Bonds

ERISA Bond

Its not fun to think about investment in this context, but the money we invest is often managed by very fallible humans.  Our most basic expectations are that fund managers will not be crooks. Incompetent?  Well, some people are just bad at what they do.  But crooks?  That is a different story.  Sadly a story that is too often told.  A recent story by  Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Reuters highlights this (see link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/12/us-hedgefunds-fraud-idUSKBN0GC1UY20140812  for the full story).  And because of the human propensity to err, safeguards were included in The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1975 (ERISA).   One of the more potent controls in the act was the requirement that all fund or investment managers receive an ERISA bond or a personal fiduciary bond.

So, how extensive is this requirement? And which professionals need to be bonded? According to the ERISA provisions and 401k-plan-sponsor.com: Every fiduciary of a plan and anyone else (plan official) who handles or has authority to handle plan assets must be bonded. The bond must provide a direct right of access in favor of the plan in the event the insured plan official takes plan assets. The bond coverage amount must be at least 10 percent of plan as assets up to a maximum bond amount of $500,000. It is unlawful for, anyone who is required to be bonded to handle plan assets without a bond. Likewise, it is unlawful for any fiduciary to allow another plan official to handle plan assets without being properly bonded.

Though ERISA is designed to provide only minimum protections against criminal activity by fund managers, it does provide the framework for making claims against any 401k manager found to have acted in a fraudulent manner.  In addition,  the ERISA bond application process provides a filter against managers who have poor credit or a history of nefarious behavior.

For more information on ERISA bonds including application, rates, etc., please contact the surety bond experts at Jurisco.  One of their knowledgeable and friendly staff will happily answer any questions.

California Legal Document Assistant LDA Bond

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Did you know that there is an industry in california where non-lawyers can be paid for providing assistance in legal matters?  Its true.  These professionals are called Legal Document Assistants (LDA) and, after they obtain a LDA Bond, are free to offer their services across the state.

California is a vast and complex place.  With a legal code that reflects its complexity and enormity.   Furthermore, California is a highly litigious state.  A recent article by the Bay Area NBC affiliate’s investigative team indicates that California has far more lawsuits regarding the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) than any other state.  (see:http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/California-Outpaces-Other-States-in-ADA-Lawsuits-disability-act-246193931.html for the full story) And not everyone elects to pay for represetation and choose to represent themselves.  Luckily for them LDA’s are available to help conduct research or otherwise assist in the trial preparation.

Defined by CA Business and Professions code 6400(c) a LDA as:Any person who is not exempted under Section 6401 and who provides, or assists in providing, or offers to provide, or offers to assist in providing, for compensation, any self-help service to a member of the public who is representing himself or herself in a legal matter, or who holds himself or herself out as someone who offers that service or has that authority. This paragraph does not
apply to any individual whose assistance consists merely of secretarial or receptionist services.

The secretary of state requires all Legal Document Assistants to procure the above-mentioned LDA bond so that prospective clients have feel confident that they are working with trustworthy professionals.

For helpful information on LDA’s see the California Association of Legal Document Assistance website: http://calda.org/.  And for more information about the LDA Bond process please contact the Surety Bond experts at Jurisco and one of their helpful staff will answer any questions about rates, applications and more.

 

Colorado Personal Representative Bond

Colorado Personal Representative Bond Who needs estate planning in Colorado?  This questions was posed by Wayne Farlow in ColoradoBiz.com (see full article here: http://www.cobizmag.com/articles/who-needs-estate-planning).  The answer is pretty straight forward:  Anyone who is going to die.  Not to be morbid, but that is the simple truth.  No matter the size of your estate, a little planning can save your beneficiaries a lot of hassle after your passing (at a ripe old age, surrounded by your loved ones).  Without planning your estate will have to go through probate court which will cost your estate money and may even result in the judge requiring a probate bond  (or personal representative bond) for the individual selected to manage the distribution of your estate. Now, in case that last sentence piqued your interest.  Let me further explain the Probate Bond: A personal representative bond is required by the state of Colorado to protect the interest of the deceased’s estate, its heirs and those parties who are owed money. The responsibility of a personal representative (formally referred to as an executor  in Colorado) is taken seriously by the courts. Courts mandate the surety bond as a form of protection for all parties. While the surety bond protects the heirs and creditors of the estate, it is also a protection for the personal representative to ensure she/he fulfills their duties responsibly. Being Appointed As A Personal Representative On average, the deceased will name the personal representative in their will. However, if this does not occur the responsibility could be entrusted to the closest living relative or even to a financial institution (like a bank) that will oversee the account. A Colorado judge may appoint a person to the position after a probate examiner reviews the petition and estate information. Being named as a personal representative of an estate is a big deal. The court holds the overseer to all his or her actions in order to protect heirs and creditors of the estate. The duties of a personal representative, executor or administrator in Colorado include the following:

  • Notifying Inheritors
  • File Will in Probate Court
  • Pay Taxes
  • Distribute Property
  • Open Bank Accounts for Estate
  • Settle Debts

All of these tasks and more, including the day-to-day details, rest on the shoulders of an executor. Given the amount of responsibility an administrator holds it is necessary for the personal representative bond to fully cover these actions. Surety Bonds exist to make the probate and estate planning process more secure; though they can be complicated.  If you have any questions regarding personal representative bonds please dont hesitate to contact the surety bond experts at Jurisco.  A member of their friendly staff will be happy to answer any query that may arise.

Construction Injunction Bonds in California

Injunction Bond California

Have you ever heard the acronym “NIMBY” before?  In case not, it stands for “Not in My Backyard”, and is a pejorative term for activist neighbors or communities that staunchly oppose some new development on often spurious grounds.  “Want to build a park? Well, not in my backyard.  It will attract too many teens and they will do serious harm to my quality of life”  And so forth.  Not all claims are spurious, of course, and sometimes lawsuits are necessary stop construction before claimants suffer greater harm.  In California courts, the only effective way to get immediate relief before the suit goes to court is to file a Preliminary Injunction.  And to do so, a claimant in California must post an Injunction Bond.

An example of this scenario, where NIMBY-ism was taken to the extreme, is found in a New York Times article written by Allison Arieff.  (See LINK for full article).  In the article Ms. Arieff describes how a small group of concerned residents halted construction of a house because they didn’t like the look of it (this is a simplified summary).

So construction was halted, what’s the big deal?  Why the need for an injunction bond?  Well, the fact is that once construction is halted due to a pre-judgement injunction, it is the defendants who are at risk of being harmed.  Construction delays are expensive and there is an emotional distress resulting from being prevented from living in your home.  So,  in this case, the injunction bond is necessary as it protects the defendant from being wrongfully enjoined; the bond bond covers any damages the defendant may sustain should the court rule the plaintiff’s suit is wrongful (we know this definition is correct, because it comes from the Jurisco website!)

There are many scenarios where construction may pose material harm to a neighbor and not just pique their ire over modernist architecture.  For instance,  the excavating of a property causes damage to a neighbor’s foundation and halting construction is the only way to prevent serious more  foundation damage from occurring.   If you find yourself in this situation and you wish to learn more about California Injunction Bonds and injunctive relief, please contact the surety bond experts at Jurisco and one of their knowledgeable staff will be happy to answer all your queries.

License Bond California

License Bond California

Loyal followers of the Jurisco Surety Blog will know that, to operate certain businesses in the State of California, business owners must acquire a license bond to qualify for a license.  An article by Matthew Yglesias on Slate.com brought the onus the various licensing boards put on business owners brought the subject of license bonds in to some relief.  (See link:  for the full article).Though it can seem like acquiring a bond to gain a business license is an undue burden, the requirements are actually in place to protect consumers and employees.

Take for example California Senate Bill 662, which amended provisions (and repealed others) to the Business and Professions Code, relating to structural pest control operators.  (See link for more info:  http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB662) The bond text outlines the changes in regards to the surety bond requirements:

Existing law requires structural pest control operators to maintain a surety bond in the amount of $4,000 in order to maintain its license or company registration. If a structural pest control operator’s license or company registration is suspended or revoked, on specified grounds, the registrar of the board shall require the applicant, licensee, or registered company, as a condition of the issuance, reissuance, or restoration of the license or company registration, to file a surety bond in a sum to be determined by the registrar based upon the seriousness of the violation, but not less than $1,000 nor more than $8,000.This bill would raise the amount of the surety bond, needed to maintain the license or company registration, from $4,000 to $12,500, and would raise the upper limits of the amount of the surety bond required for an issuance, reissuance, or restoration of the license or company registration, after a suspension or revocation, from $8,000 to $25,000.

 

The bond in this case is there to protect consumers from harmful activity by the pest control operators.  Those being forced to obtain the bond may gripe about the extra hoops they must jump through, but those being protected by the extra layer of insurance and security should feel good that there are protections in place with their interest in mind. Many other businesses in California also require a surety bond to obtain a license.  These include:

  • Travel Agents,
  • Gyms/Health Clubs/Fitness Studios
  • Yacht Brokers
  • Auto Dealers
  • Mobile Home Dealers

If you ever learn that you must obtain a surety license bond to operate a business in the State of California, or elsewhere across America; don’t be overwhelmed.  The experts at Jurisco are available to answer your questions and to help you along the path to operating your successful business.

California Immigration Consultant Bond

Immigration Consultant Bond

Immigration is one of the biggest issues facing California and the nation right now.    Turn on the television or open up any  newspaper (online in this case) and you will find a story on immigration.  A recent article on WashingtonPost.com by William Harless is just one of hundreds of examples.  (see full article here).  What is rarely reported, however, are the growing number of professions that serve the immigrant community.  One of these professions, The California Immigration Consultant, offers a valuable service by, among other things, helping immigrant families obtain and file necessary forms, and notifying them when they are in need of legal assistance.   To ensure that only strong applicants enter this profession, the California secretary of state requires that applications obtain a California Immigration Consultant Bond before they are issued a license.

According to Immigration Nation US,  Immigration Consultants, “have the knowledge of process and procedures for filing certain immigration documents and is also knowing of available resources for cases that are beyond the capabilities of an immigration consultant. The bulk of work lies in preparing documents, document packages and filings for clients with various and specific immigration needs”      More information can also be found at their website.

Pursuant to the new provisions of California Business and Professions Code section 22443.1, however, the bond requirement has doubled and all applicants and renewal’s will have to obtain an $100,000 Immigration Consultant Bond.  For more information on the requirements see the California’s Secretary of State website:  http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/sf/imm-consultant-qualifications.htm

Despite the increase in bond amount,  the profession remains in high demand.  California has an immigrant population (naturalized and other) of over 10 million and many of these people need expert help so they legally proceed with the immigration process.

If you wish to receive more information on the California Immigration Consultant Bond or have general questions about the bonding process, please contact one of the Surety Bond Experts at Jurisco.  A friendly member of their staff will be there to answer all of your queries.