Wedding Rings with Gay Symbols.As the laws change, we strive to share how they will affect our clients and readers of this blog. Thus, we are pleased to share the following guest post by Florida Bar Board Certified Wills, Trust and Estate Planning Attorney Eric Gurgold.

On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States, in Obergefell v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, in a five to four opinion ruled to allow same sex marriages in every state. The Court held that the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize the marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state. The Court said the 14th Amendment concepts of due process and equal protection require states to treat same sex couples the same as opposite sex couples with regard to the fundamental right of marriage. The ruling does not apply to civil unions or other arrangements where the couple is not lawfully married.

Effect on Homestead Provisions


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The Second District Court of Appeal, which covers fourteen counties in West Central Florida and Southwest Florida from Pasco County in the north to Collier County in the south, issued a decision in June 2015 that significantly expands the rights of real property owners in Southwest Florida. In the case entitled FINR II, Inc. v. Hardee County, the appellate court ruled that

the Bert [J.] Harris [, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection] Act provides a cause of action to owners of real property that has been inordinately burdened and diminished in value due to governmental action directly taken against an adjacent property.” (Emphasis added.)

Facts of the Case


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For any development permit holders interested in taking advantage of the two-year extension offered under HB 7023 (codified as Laws of Florida ch. 2014-218), there are some important rules to remember as the notification deadline of December 31, 2014 quickly approaches:

  • The permit you are seeking to extend must expire between January 1, 2014 and

Nationwide, one out of every five homes in foreclosure are abandoned — equating to a total of 170,000 abandoned homes, according to recent studies. Florida accounts for 33% of that figure, or about 55,000 abandoned homes. Florida cities, in fact, represent 85 out of the top 100 cities based on total number of owner-vacated foreclosures. Lee County’s city of Cape Coral is #13 on that list, with over 2,200 owner-vacated foreclosures.

To combat the security problems that can arise from vacant homes and the potential blight on neighborhoods and communities, counties and municipalities across Florida have responded by passing Abandoned Property ordinances. These ordinances place registration, inspection and maintenance obligations on lenders during the mortgage foreclosure process. Lee County recently passed its Abandoned Property Ordinance, which took effect January 2014:

When Registration is Required for Lenders

The lender obligations under the ordinance are triggered in a number of instances, but most commonly, lenders will need to register their properties when either a notice of foreclosure is filed or a notice of default is given to the property owner. Lenders should be cognizant that a mere default letter to the borrower — without filing a foreclosure lawsuit — requires the lender to register the property.

Additionally, lenders who have acquired title through a deed in lieu of foreclosure or a foreclosure sale are required to register their respective properties, even if they held title prior to January 1, 2014 – i.e., lenders who acquired title prior to the ordinance’s enactment are not exempt.

The ordinance does not distinguish between commercial and residential properties. For example, a commercial lender who has provided a notice of default to a property owner or who has acquired title through a foreclosure sale is required to register the property with the County. Nor does the ordinance distinguish between institutional lenders and private lenders.

What Registration Entails


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6944627691_75bdca0c5d_m.jpgIt took a while, but the Florida Supreme Court recently upheld a 2011 5th District Court of Appeals’ decision invalidating a city ordinance that gave priority to code enforcement liens over prior-recorded mortgages. City of Palm Bay v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. SC11-830 (May 16, 2013). Palm Bay’s ordinance had attempted to

open till late.jpgA recent decision from the Florida 4th District Court of Appeal illustrates some special land use concerns that come into play when the affected party holds a leasehold interest rather than fee simple ownership.

Changing Regulations Can Affect Leaseholders

In Village of N. Palm Bch. v. S&H Foster’s, Inc., 80 So. 3d. 433 (Fla.

gavel.jpgThe Fourth District Court of Appeals of Florida recently affirmed the position that a property owner cannot knowingly ignore an impediment to the title of their property. In Nunes v. Allstate Investment Properties, Inc., (So.3d —, 2011 WL 3107801) the Personal Representative of the Estate of Kathleen L. Phillips, and Marilyn Ann Nunes, individually

The Florida Legislature recently adopted House Bill 7207 which drastically changes the landscape of Florida’s Growth Management procedures. The bill itself comprises 349 pages (the majority of which deals with matters unrelated to growth management) and the drastic changes it proposes are too numerous to cover in a blog entry. A sampling of some of