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Cape Coral Legal Blog

Using contracts to protect assets in real estate

The real estate industry in Florida is constantly experiencing ebbs and flows of productivity and can be a thrilling resource to invest in. Outside of real estate investments, there are people who engage in transactions simply to buy or purchase a property for their family to live on. Regardless of a person's reason for becoming involved in real estate, contracts play a critical role in protecting both the buyer and the seller. 

A contract functions a bit like a dictionary by defining terms, providing explanations and giving scenarios. A well-written contract will provide both parties who sign the agreement with a valuable resource to reference when questions arise about responsibilities, obligations and benefits. If one party suspects the other of breaching the contract and failing to uphold their agreed-upon responsibilities, they can use the contract that was signed to back their claim and provide evidence. 

Do you need to replace a trustee?

Trusts are some of the most effective tools anyone with an estate plan can use, and when planned and run well, they offer strong property protections and peace of mind that few other things can. Trusts also require human trustees, and this is where many estate plans run into trouble.

If you have ever had a conflict with a trustee, you know how frustrating and costly a bad trustee can be. The good news is that the law offers several justifications for removing and replacing trustees in a way that keeps the matter civil and ultimately keeps your wishes and your property secure.

Considerations when selling a home as an estate administrator

Serving as the executor for an estate or as the trustee for a trust that is part of an estate is both an honor and a lot of work. You will need to fulfill certain obligations, including paying the debts of the deceased individual, as well as carefully following the instructions they left behind in their last will or estate plan.

Executors and trustees have a fiduciary duty both to the deceased person who named them as executor and the individuals who will benefit from the estate. Many times, an executor will need to sell property from the estate, potentially including real estate such as the home of the deceased or any other investment properties they acquired.

How does estate planning cover digital assets?

Part of estate planning often includes naming an agent in your will or giving a trusted individual power of attorney. Including these people in your will may give them certain rights to access your communications and financial information in order to execute the terms of your will. Nowadays, your estate may include more than just physical bank statements and letters. You may have online banking accounts, electronic communications, social media profiles and other digital assets. In recent years, legislators have updated Florida law to provide guidance on how and when fiduciaries may access digital assets.

Your digital assets may be valuable both personally and financially, which means they require legal protection to preserve their value and your privacy. You may not want your social media accounts, emails and online banking transactions to be available for anyone to view after your death. However, you may not be able to deny all access to these digital accounts; they likely include key information required in the execution of your will.

How usury laws can affect business owners in Florida

Floridians often think of usury laws from the point of everyday consumers. However, everyday consumers own businesses too. To operate and grow that business, the owner may need a business loan, auto loan or other short-term loans to fill gaps caused by late payments or low inventory turnover. Because of this, usury laws can affect businesses too.

According to Credit Karma, usury laws set limits on the fees and interest rates that lenders can charge before it becomes illegal. Usury laws tend to be regulated at the state level and varies across state lines. A U.S. Supreme Court muddied the waters even more by allowing some banks to charge the interest rate of their location instead of where the debtor lives. This may hold true even if the allowed interest rates in the bank’s location are much higher.

Should you worry about estate challenges because you remarry?

Getting divorced changes your life and your family, especially if you have young children. For many people, divorce has an impact on their estate as well. If you have met someone else and fallen in love, you may be thinking about remarrying or may have already tied the knot.

Just like you likely updated your estate plan when you decided to divorce, you should also update it now that you have a new spouse. There are certain unique considerations that will impact how you structure your estate plan for a second or subsequent marriage.

Florida build-to-rent housing market is skyrocketing

The real estate market has taken a few hits in the past few years. First, millennials entered adulthood with less interest in and ability to purchase homes as preceding generations. Then, interest rates went up, followed by an increase in prices and a cooling off period for buyers of all ages. However, there is a new reason to reconsider real estate investments in Florida.

CNBC reports that homes built specifically for renting are now on the rise. A Florida-based builder in Tampa recently launched an IPO to raise $100 million. What for? To build tract homes that will be sold in bulk to real estate investors. This may be a lot like owning an apartment complex, except that the residents have more privacy. Florida is not alone in this new development either. Other builders across the country are collaborating with investors to bring projects like these to life.

Why is it so important to avoid probate?

When conducting estate planning in Florida, one of the biggest questions you may have is how to ensure your estate avoids probate. Forbes notes that if you have a will, your assets will pass through probate. This is a lengthy and sometimes expensive process. While some states have enacted new changes that streamlined the process, it is still best to avoid it as much as possible.

One of the main downsides of probate is the uncertainty it creates for your beneficiaries. If they needed to liquidate assets included in the will to pay for funeral arrangements or the care of minors or other dependents, this could present a problem. If you have property spread out over multiple states, then the process becomes even longer.

How can I revoke a power of attorney?

All estate planning documents should include a valid power of attorney. If you appointed a friend or relative as your power of attorney quite some time ago, circumstances may have changed that cause you to need to revoke this designation.

Perhaps the person you appointed has passed away or moved to a distant location where it would no longer be convenient for them to act in your stead if you become incapacitated. Maybe the two of you had a falling out or the person developed a drug or alcohol problem that caused you to no longer want them in charge of your affairs. What should be your next move?

An important estate planning step for those who own a business

Running your own business can be rewarding and offer you the kind of freedom most people can only dream of having. However, assuming the role of creator and operator for a company also comes with a lot of responsibility. You will have to consider things that most people never do and learn skills that you never would need if you were just an employee somewhere.

One important planning consideration that too many business owners overlook is the need to have some kind of plan in place in the event that you fall ill or are otherwise unable to take care of the business temporarily. Someone needs the authority to act on your expectations.

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