It is always sad news when there is strife among beneficiaries after a loved one has passed. It is especially difficult when the strife plays out in public. After the tragic death of famed Actor/Comedian Robin Williams, his heirs are engaging in just such a public battle; as an article in the New York Times explains: Robin Williams. Even though there was an estate plan in place there is still significant discord among the heirs. And, despite the plan, it may still be necessary for the courts to intercede and require a Personal Representative (PR) to administer estate distribution to avoid any further trouble. Due to the nature of the dispute, the court may require the PR to secure a Personal Representative Bond to ward off any claims of mismanagement.
A personal representative bond is required by the state of California to protect the interest of the deceased’s estate, its heirs and those parties who are owed money. The responsibility of a personal representative (commonly referred to as an administrator or executor in California) 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 California 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 California 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.
Executor Bond Cost
California executor bond statute explains how a personal representative bond amount is determined:
8482. (a) The court in its discretion may fix the amount of the bond, but the amount of the bond shall be not more than the sum of:
(1) The estimated value of the personal property.
(2) The probable annual gross income of the estate.
(3) If independent administration is granted as to real property, the estimated value of the decedent’s interest in the real property.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), if the bond is given by an admitted surety insurer, the court may establish a fixed minimum amount for the bond, based on the minimum premium required by the admitted surety insurer.
(c) If the bond is given by personal sureties, the amount of the bond shall be twice the amount fixed by the court under subdivision (a).
(d) Before confirming a sale of real property the court shall require such additional bond as may be proper, not exceeding the maximum requirements of this section, treating the expected proceeds of the sale as personal property.
The executor bond lasts as long as it takes to formally settle an estate. Sometimes this can be achieved in as little as eight months while other estates take years to settle. The longevity of the personal representative bond will impact the cost of the surety. Make sure to discuss this point with your Jurisco representative when you contact them about personal representative bonds
Everyone knows about self driving cars; or autonomous vehicles in the parlance of state regulatory bodies. Since 2012, Google and other technology/car companies have been legally operating and testing these cars in California. Understandably, state officials have seemed uncertain how regulate this new technology; despite self driving car’s sterling accident record. There is, however, a bill going through the California Assembly which addresses an aspect of this story that directly relates to the Jurisco surety blog; and that is insurance requirements. Manufacturers of autonomous vehicles are required to carry proof of insurance; and this could be in the form of an auto insurance bond for the amount of $5,000,000. The bill in question (AB 1164) would amend Section 38750 of the Vehicle Code, that relates to autonomous vehicles.
In fact, all drivers in California could choose to post a surety bond in lieu of carrying insurance. In California it falls under the umbrella of Financial Responsibility. This means that all drivers are required to have proof that they can cover damages up to $35,000. Under California Vehicle Code, Section 38750 drivers can choose between three options to meet this requirement: Carry traditional insurance, post cash with the state or to procure a auto insurance bond with a licensed bond agency.
If you are interested in learning more about insurance requirements in California or would like to apply for an auto insurance bond, please contact the surety bond experts at Jurisco and one of their expert staff will respond to your query.
What is better than a vacation? How about a paid vacation? Well, what about an extended paid vacation where you retain job security while you are far afield? This is called a sabbatical and they are offered by many companies and institutions as an incentive to retain employees. They are prevalent for educational and non profit institutions where such benefits help compensate for salaries that are below private sector. Forbes.com has a great article on sabbaticals: http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/24/sabbatical-leave-work-leadership-careers-advice.html. But though many may be familiar with Sabbaticals, less know that within the California education system to qualify for a sabbatical the applicant must post a Sabbatical Leave Bond. (As mandated by California Educational Code Section 44969).
The bond in this case works as a Salary Bond and is a guarantee to the the employer that the employee requesting leave will return to work and fulfill their work obligation . . . generally 1-2 years. With the Bond reimbursing the institution for salary paid out during leave if the employee does not meet their work agreement after returning from leave. Unlike most surety bonds, the Sabbatical leave bond is not filed with the court or the secretary of state, rather this bond is filed with the institution that is granting the leave. (And the office responsible for granting leave differs from school to school) The bond amount for a Sabbatical Leave bond is generally for the salary for the employee will receive for the duration of their leave.
Applicants will need to provide several pieces of information to the surety agency issuing the bond. For rates, more information and an application please contact the Surety Bond Experts at Jurisco and one of their staff will answer all your queries.
Yesterday, Maura Dolan of the LA Times published an article on an important legal appeal decision regarding gun ownership. (see full article here: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-sunnyvale-gun-ordinance-20150305-story.html) Appeals and the appellate court are very important to the surety industry (though not necessarily in ways that relate to the 2nd amendment) and Surety Bonds, specifically apppeal bonds (also known as undertaking bonds or supersedeas bonds) are vital to the efficient working of the appeal process.
For those of you who do not know. If a defendant wishes to appeal a money judgement in civil court, he/she/it(in the case of businesses or corporations) must post an appeal bond in order for the court to proceed with the dispute. These surety bonds guarantee the judgment will be satisfied along with court costs. Surety bond cost varies by state but usually includes a provision for interest.
If you, or someone you know is in need of an appeal bond or just wishes to learn more, please contact the surety bond experts at Jurisco and one of their friendly staff will be happy to answer any of your questions.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.