Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Importance of a Real Estate Attorney in a New Transaction

Buying or selling a home often involves a fair amount of stress, tons of decision-making, and dealing with several professionals—a real estate attorney should be one of them. The law of real property is unique and raises special issues of practice, which a real estate attorney is specially trained to handle.

Anyone entering a real estate transaction is expected to sign contracts, including but not limited to: brokerage contracts, formal sale contracts, and commitments for financing. The property title must also be searched before the property can officially be transferred from the seller to the buyer. Should anything go wrong with a contract or in the title transfer process, it would be extremely difficult for a buyer or seller without legal training to navigate the issue alone.

At the very least, a real estate attorney can help explain to the buyer or seller what the language in a contract means, and what the consequences will be if the contract is broken on either end. An attorney can then help revise any agreement that does not meet the desires of one party or the other.

Consulting a real estate attorney is especially helpful in signing the purchase agreement, which is often considered the single most important document in a real estate transaction. Though a standard form is usually presented to both parties, a lawyer can help explain the document and make changes and/or additions to reflect the needs of the buyer and seller. The standard nature of the form does not usually allow for all necessary questions to be addressed or answered, but an experienced real estate attorney will bring some of the following questions to the attention of the buyer and seller:

  • If there have been changes or additions to the property, were they made lawfully?
  • If the buyer has plans to change or add to the property, can they be made lawfully?
  • What happens if termites, asbestos, radon, lead-based paint, or other harmful elements are discovered upon a buyer-conducted property inspection?
  • What if the property is found to contain hazardous waste?
  • What are the legal consequences if the closing does not take place? What will happen to the down payment?

For the title search process, an attorney should review the title search, explain title exceptions, determine whether the legal description is accurate, and flesh out any problems with prior owners. A real estate attorney will discuss with the prospective buyer any issues that may arise with selling the property in the future, and counsel them on further action. The attorney can also provide insight on zoning violations, which are not covered in the title.

Seeking the help of a licensed, experienced real estate attorney is important in nearly every step of a real estate transaction, but the most common, and perhaps most important, reason a real estate attorney is usually hired, is to handle conflicting interests. While lenders and brokers can provide assistance, both want to see the sale go through. But, if each party has legal representation, they can rest assured that someone is looking out for their best interests throughout the buying or selling process. For more information regarding the importance of a Real Estate Attorney, [Click Here].

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Over 150 New Florida Laws Take Effect this Month

Of the 279 bills passed by Florida legislators three months ago, 161 went into effect on July 1. The laws cover a variety of issues, ranging from school choice to rape kit testing, tax cuts, and criminal punishment.

Below are some of the most important changes Florida will see from the new laws.

Budget: A new budget of $82.3 million was passed by a vote of 159-1. Important projects that will see a portion of that budget are school construction and Everglades restoration.

Tax Cuts: The two big cuts include are drop in property taxes and a three-day sales tax hiatus from August 5-7, aimed at helping back-to-school shoppers. Floridians will also see a permanent sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment and machinery, and tax-reductions on pear cider and aviation fuel.

Bullying: Schools districts are now required to evaluate their anti-bullying and harassment policies every three years, and includes rules on dating violence and abuse in their discipline guidelines.

Crime and Punishment: The “10-20-Life” minimum sentence will no longer be required for Floridians convicted of aggravated assault or attempted aggravated assault.

Digital Assets: Guardians or trustees of estates will now have the same access to digital assets and electronic account information as they do to physical assets and financial accounts.

Festivals: Food contests or cook-offs lasting three days or less that are hosted by a school, church, religious organization, or nonprofit, will no longer be considered “public food service establishments,” and therefore will not be subject to licensing fees or government inspection.

Jury Duty: Floridians permanently incapable of caring for themselves can now provide a written statement from their healthcare provider to become permanently exempt from serving the courts.

Marriage: Clergy with religious objections are not required to marry same-sex couples.

Needle Exchange: In Miami-Dade county, home to the country’s highest rate of new HIV cases, the Miami-Dade Infectious Disease Elimination Act (IDEA) will help establish a new needle exchange program to stop the spread of HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases.

Outdoors: Fines for illegally killing, taking, or selling game or fur-bearing animals while committing burglary or trespass double to $500. It is now a third-degree felony to knowingly possess sea turtles, their eggs, or their nests.

Rape Kits: Rape kits must be delivered by law enforcement agencies to a state crime lab within 30 days of the start of an investigation. The lab must test the kits within 120 days.

BLICK-LAW-FIRM, LAW, FLORIDA-LAW, TAMPA, FLORIDA, LAWYER, ATTORNEY, 7Safety: Elevators in private residences must now comply with clearing requirements and be equipped with motion sensors.

School Choice: Students can transfer to any state school with available space; athletes are immediately eligible to play if they haven’t started practicing the same sport at their former school. Military children are immediately eligible as long as they haven’t been suspended or expelled from their previous school. For more information regarding new Florida laws, [Click Here].

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Law Change Protects Florida Patients From Balance Billing

BLICK-LAW-FIRM, LAW, FLORIDA-LAW, TAMPA, FLORIDA, LAWYER, ATTORNEY, 2Effective July 1, a change to Florida law will prohibit surprise medical bills for a larger network of consumers.

According to Attorney Eric D. Fader, of Day Pitney LLP in New York City, the law previously protected only consumers in health maintenance organizations (HMOs) from “balance billing.” The change will extend protection to members of preferred providers organizations (PPOs) and exclusive provider organizations, where a predetermined network is in place.

Balance billing refers to the bill a patient receives directly from their healthcare provider if the insurance plan does not cover the balance. The practice is common among “tag-along” providers, like anesthesiologists or radiologists, Fader said.

“This is kind of the flavor of the year for things in health care for consumers to be upset about, with some justification,” Fader said. “Someone goes into surgery—the hospital stay is covered by insurance; the surgeon is covered then you get a bill for $42,000 from the anesthesiologist or someone else.”

By enacting the change and providing protection to a greater number of consumers, Florida joins just a handful of other states with similar billing protection policies, including: New York, Connecticut, and Colorado. But, according to Fader, federal legislation regarding the issue of patient billing protection is certainly not out of the question. A legal movement in favor of patient billing protection would change how hospital and surgeons across the country use ancillary service providers.

“The hospital and surgeon are going to have to take responsibility for who they bring in, who they ask to assist,” Fader said. “For example, a surgical group may have preferred folks they like to work with. If those folks are in network, they might not have worried much if the ancillary providers were in the network.” Fader added, “Now this law will be putting pressure on everyone to be cognizant of such issues.”

In Florida, hospitals will be required to provide patients with information about service providers, if applicable. Insurance companies too will be subject to transparency requirements, making information about providers that are in- or out-of-network more readily available.

As for service providers that are not associated with an insurance network, Fader believes it will become increasingly more difficult to enter a network. “Providers were content to be out-of-network.

Now, there will be more of a push to become part of a network,” Fader explained.

BLICK-LAW-FIRM, LAW, FLORIDA-LAW, TAMPA, FLORIDA, LAWYER, ATTORNEY, 1Unlike New York’s billing protection law, Florida’s will not extend “balance billing” protection to patients without insurance. But, Fader believers a very large portion of Floridians will be protected from surprise bills. For more information regarding law changes, [Click Here].

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