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Santa Rosa Beach Law Blog

Real estate litigation damages business, personal relationship

When Florida neighbors are embroiled in a dispute over real estate, it can turn contentious and evolve into a difficult situation that may lead to real estate litigation. These situations can emanate from disagreements that are major or minor. Regardless, for all parties, it is wise to consider the possibility of negotiation while being prepared for a court case if it is necessary. Having legal representation from the beginning is crucial.

A man and his former attorney who had won a significant award in a personal injury lawsuit are at odds over adjoining properties they own. The dispute centers around an injunction that the attorney says the client violated by trespassing and the attorney's attempts to build wetlands for sale. The client was awarded $45 million in a case after his daughter was killed and his wife suffered permanent brain damage more than a decade ago. The appeals and settlement reduced the amount the man received substantially. Still, the man and his attorney received large sums.

When should you start thinking about your estate plan?

Estate planning feels like something you should do in the future, but you just are not sure when that means you really need to get down to it. You want that plan in place before you pass away, but how do you predict that? Is this something you should do after you get married? After you have kids? After you retire?

A lot of people struggle with these questions and they put it off. However, experts agree that the reality is simple: It's never too soon. No matter how old you are or where you are in life, you can start your estate planning.

What are pretermitted loved ones in wills?

Estate planning in Florida is not always a simple. Many times, people create a document such as a will and they proceed to have long lives after the fact. This is not a bad thing. Having an estate plan is smart, especially for people who are in good health and are not expecting anything negative to happen to them in the short-term.

However, there are issues with an estate plan that might not have been updated to reflect life changes. One is if there were "pretermitted" loved ones.

Divorce and entitlement of proceeds when a marital home is sold

Floridians who get a divorce might be of moderate means or be in the middle of a high asset divorce. Regardless of their financial circumstances, there will be one property that has significant value and from which both sides will want a share: the marital home. Often, as part of the divorce, it is decided that the property will be sold. When this happens, it is imperative to understand what the law says about the entitlement to credits or setoffs (recovering of money due) when the property is sold. Having legal advice from a qualified litigator in family law is integral to dealing with this issue.

When the marital property is sold, there must be a settlement agreement, a final divorce judgment, or a final judgment to divide the assets or debts equitably or a party will not be entitled to setoffs or credits and it is specified that these will be provided when the property is sold. If there is no such settlement agreement, the court will assess various factors when it decides if there should be setoffs or credits as part of the divorce.

What does Florida law say about how wills are executed?

In Florida, having a basic estate plan is an important step to ensuring a smooth transition for the family left behind. A will is one of the most common documents. Wills need not be complex, but there are inherent legal requirements to make the document valid. This can avoid problems for the family and keep any dispute or disagreement to a minimum. Often, many people who are making a will - testators - will not be fully aware of these key points in having a legal will. When preparing the document, making certain it is legal and covers all the bases in terms of legality is just as important as asset protection and determining which heirs will receive what properties.

When the will is completed, it is critical that the testator sign it at its end or the testator's name is subscribed at its end by another person who was in the presence of and did so at the direction of the testator. Regarding witnesses, there must be a minimum of two to attest that it was signed or acknowledged. With acknowledgement, it is important that the will was previously signed or another person subscribed to the testator's name.

Divorce, bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative alimony

In a Florida divorce, whether it is a high conflict divorce, a high asset divorce or has other circumstances surrounding it, the topic of alimony - also referred to as spousal support - will come to the forefront. Both parties will have reasonable positions on how much should be paid, how long payments should last, and if there should be conditions linked to the payments. While there are many factors in the discussion, two subsets of alimony are bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative. Understanding how these are determined is key to a case for the prospective paying party and the receiving party.

With bridge-the-gap alimony, the description is apt. It is meant to help the person who is receiving alimony to transition to their new life as a single person and meet their financial needs. It is for assistance with the short-term issues associated with no longer living with a breadwinner. With bridge-the-gap, there is a time limit of two years. When bridge-the-gap is awarded, it will end if the paying party dies or if the person who is receiving support remarries. This award cannot be modified in any way by the amount of time for which it is paid for its amount.

What rights do you have during corrupt HOA dealings?

Properly zoned, planned and organized neighborhoods benefit residents greatly. There is much to be said about uniform enforcement of appearance standards and maintenance requirements. They can help contribute to overall property values. They can also make it simple for people to know the standards for any given community.

Homeowners associations (HOAs) often serve as an intermediary between individuals and the rest of their community. People who live in an HOA community will pay monthly fees to the association. In return, the HOA will set and maintain standards for the whole community. They may also maintain certain communal amenities, such as playground, community pools or shared spaces.

Durable powers of attorney can be beneficial to Floridians

When Floridians are crafting an estate plan, they will frequently consider the basic and obvious devices like wills and trusts. For many, however, there are other concerns that they want to address. That includes what will happen if they have medical issues, become incapacitated or are on life support as the only means to keep them alive and they cannot make decisions on their own. It is in these cases that durable powers of attorney can be useful.

Understanding state law in relation to these arrangements is a foundational part of the decision-making process as to whether it is necessary and desirable or not. With the durable power of attorney, a surrogate will be named to determine if the person - the principal - should stay on life support. This is often used as part of a person's living will. When the durable power of attorney is created, to be valid it must be signed with two adult witnesses.

Real estate litigation centers around bond deal for country club

Florida real estate is lucrative and complex. When developers are seeking to build, expand or reconstruct a property, there are often concerns on the part of current residents of the specific area where the work is to take place. Construction disputes, disagreements over how the sale is handled, reluctance over the role of the state government and more can result in the need for real estate litigation. For people who are embroiled in this situation, a law firm that handles cases related to real estate can help.

A lawsuit has been filed to stop a referendum over a bond issue to purchase a country club. One homeowner has filed the case. The man is asking that the court prevent the referendum from moving forward and to stop the purchase from being closed until it is decided whether the sale is of fair-market value. The lawsuit asserts that an appraiser who did not have a valid license inflated the assessment of the property. It also says there was pressure, harassment and owners were misled so they would agree to sign petitions that would support the new district.

Assistance navigating a high-asset divorce

Florida is a state where many people of significant means like to congregate. This is no surprise given the agreeable climate, abundant outdoor activities and lavish homes for them to choose from. However, a state that has so many people who are wealthy will also have its share of divorces. A high asset divorce must be handled differently than one of more modest means. A major part of that is having legal help to go through the assets and property that are part of a high asset divorce and to seek a fair settlement. When facing the litany of issues in such a case, having legal assistance is a must.

With a high asset divorce, there is a good chance that it will also become a high conflict divorce with the parties in dispute over residences, jewelry, automobiles, bank accounts and more. Often, there is a business at stake and both sides either want part of it or they want to be compensated based on its worth. If there are children in the marriage, the parties will likely battle over custody and visitation. Once that is determined, they will then disagree about how much support will be paid to the custodial parent. This too requires qualified legal advice.

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