News & Resources

Category: Articles

Notice of Proposed Property Taxes (TRIM) Are Coming Soon
Wed, Aug 5, 2020| | Articles

Notice of Proposed Property Taxes (TRIM) Are Coming Soon

Florida’s “Truth-in-Millage” (TRIM) Act was designed to inform property owners which governmental entity is responsible for the taxes levied against their property and the amount owed to each entity. The Notice of Proposed Property Taxes is known as the “TRIM Notice.” TRIM Notices are usually sent out in mid to late August of each year by the Property Appraiser’s Office in the county where the property is located.  This notice is not a bill but rather an estimate of anticipated taxes based upon the proposed budgets of the governmental entities, your property value and any applicable exemptions. PROPERTY VALUE The TRIM notice will contain your property’s market, assessed and taxable values and list any exemptions that you may have. Market Value, also known as ‘Just Value’, is the county Property Appraiser’s best estimate of what a willing purchaser would pay to a willing seller while also considering other things such as the highest and best use of the property, the income from the property or the present replacement value of the property, to name a few.  The Just Value is based on a January 1 appraisal and considers real estate transactions from the previous year as well as comparable values in your area. The Assessed Value is generally the Just Value limited by the ‘Save Our Homes’ (SOH) cap on homesteaded property or the 10% cap on non-homesteaded property. The SOH cap prevents the assessed value of homestead property from increasing more than 3% per year, or the percent change in the Consumer Price Index, […]

Read More

Estate Planning During a Pandemic
Tue, May 5, 2020| | Articles

Estate Planning During a Pandemic

By working together, our community, our nation, and our world will make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the devastation caused by the Coronavirus has forced us to face many difficult realities.  We can choose to be proactive instead of spending our precious time worrying about the unknown. The following are ideas for practical legal efforts that may provide peace of mind during these challenging times, along with some basic information about Estate Planning in Florida:   Health Care Providers and First Responders: The manner in which this crisis has unfolded has resulted in extreme stress on our health care systems and emergency personnel.  Due to their level of exposure, many health care providers and first responders are highly susceptible to contracting COVID-19.  It is vitally important that all people have emergency surrogacy documents (“advance directives”) in place, but it is even more important for those on the front lines.  In Florida, emergency surrogacy documents typically include the following: (General) Durable Powers of Attorney for financial and personal decision-making during your incapacity (your designated decision-maker is called an “Agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact”).  This document may include a pre-need designation for a legal guardian of your property (or this may be done via separate document); Designations of Health Care Surrogates for health care-related decision-making during your incapacity (your designated decision-maker is called a “Health Care Surrogate”).  This document may include a pre-need designation for a legal guardian of your person (or this may be done via separate document); and Living Will declarations […]

Read More

COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Certain Social Security Beneficiaries
Tue, May 5, 2020| | Articles

COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Certain Social Security Beneficiaries

You may be aware that distribution of COVID-19 “stimulus checks” has begun for individuals who filed income tax returns in 2018 and 2019.  Many Social Security recipients file income tax returns and will be included in the first wave of recipients without additional action on their part.  For other Social Security beneficiaries, the following information may be helpful/important: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients With Dependent Children: typically, SSI recipients do not file income tax returns; however, they are still entitled to stimulus payments.  The U.S. Treasury will use SSA-1099 information to identify these individuals.  SSI recipients with dependent children will need to provide information about their eligible children in order to receive an additional $500 per dependent child.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has not provided a deadline for reporting this information as of the date of this posting. Social Security Retirement/Survivor’s Benefits Recipients, Social Security Disability Recipients, and Railroad Retirement Benefits Recipients With Dependent Children: if you receive one of these benefits and did not file an income tax return in 2018/2019, the deadline to add $500 per eligible dependent child to your stimulus check was April 22, 2020.  That said, you may still be eligible to receive the payment if you file a 2020 income tax return and include the necessary information about your dependent child(ren). Income and Resource Limitations for SSI and Medicaid Recipients: the stimulus checks WILL NOT be counted as income for SSI purposes, and will not be counted as a resource to the recipient […]

Read More

Commercial Landlord and Tenant Relations During COVID-19
Tue, May 5, 2020| | Articles

Commercial Landlord and Tenant Relations During COVID-19

The coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to wreak havoc on many commercial landlords and tenants in Florida, as tenants are unable to pay rent or request rent relief of some form or another. With the economic pressures commercial tenants are facing because of shelter-at-home orders and COVID-19’s effects on the general economy, the risks of tenants failing has drastically increased. According to a March 30th survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, 92% of small employers have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Furthermore, only approximately half of the employers surveyed can survive more than two months under the current conditions. Landlords are faced with trying to be as accommodating as possible to tenants while facing their own financial difficulties because of the fixed costs associated with real estate including mortgage payments, maintenance, taxes and insurance. This article is intended to give commercial landlords and tenants general items to consider to best determine a course of action in light of the pandemic. Before attempting negotiations with a tenant or taking other actions, landlords should consider seeking the following type of information from tenants as a means to determine the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses: (1) financial statements for 2019 and year-to-date 2020; (2) financial projection for the remainder of 2020 including statements on whether they believe business will return as usual after shelter-at-home orders are lifted; (3) a summary of governmental assistance that the tenants have applied for or intend to apply for including the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic […]

Read More

Force Majeure In Residential Contracts & COVID-19
Thu, Apr 2, 2020| | Articles

Force Majeure In Residential Contracts & COVID-19

By now you have probably had a client wanting to invoke the force majeure clause of their contract. The purpose of this clause is to allow for parties to delay performance or actually be excused from performance in the event of unforeseen or uncontrollable events.   Like many contracts, standard in the FAR/BAR contract is a “Force Majeure” clause. The clause provides that neither party shall be required to perform any obligation under the Contract or be liable for damages if performance or non-performance is disrupted, delayed, caused or prevented by Force Majeure. The contract defines “Force Majeure” to mean “hurricanes, floods, extreme weather, earthquakes, fire, or other acts of God, unusual transportation delays, or wars, insurrections, or acts of terrorism, which, by exercise of reasonable diligent effort, the nonperforming party is unable in whole or in part to prevent or overcome.”    Despite all the hurricanes Florida has been through, there is not much legal precedent regarding force majeure clauses. These clauses are generally narrowly construed, meaning that a court would limit these clauses’ application so that they will excuse a party’s performance only for events specifically identified in the provision.  Note what is not included in the FAR/BAR definition: “epidemic” or “pandemic.”  To our knowledge, there are no Florida cases addressing the issue in this context, though that will surely change because of COVID-19.     So, what should you do now?  Tell your clients to discuss their specific situation with their attorney and apply good business judgment. Any […]

Read More

What is a Residential Real Estate Closing?
Thu, Jan 16, 2020| | Articles

What is a Residential Real Estate Closing?

In Florida, the residential real estate closing process begins with the execution of a real estate contract and is finalized by the execution of closing documents on the closing day. Below is a step-by-step breakdown of a common Florida residential real estate closing: 1. Contract The contract sets forth all of the terms of the transaction including the property being purchased, the purchase price, and the closing date. The contract sets forth all of the critical dates of the transaction and is an extremely powerful document. Unfortunately, many buyers and sellers wait until after the contract is signed to seek the advice of a real estate attorney, which leads to unforeseen issues and less protection. 2. Deposit The deposit amount is set forth in the contract and often is payable by the buyer to the escrow agent within three days of the real estate contract being executed. The deposit provides protection to the seller in the event the buyer breaches the contract. Ten percent of the purchase price is often the standard amount of the deposit. 3. Residential Mortgage Application The majority of residential buyers obtain a loan to purchase the property. The real estate contract will provide for a financing contingency, which give the buyer a certain amount of days to receive approval from a bank of a loan. If the buyer is unable to obtain financing, the buyer can cancel the contract within the contingency period and receive their deposit back. 4. Appraisal Often times, especially when the […]

Read More