Guest post by Gregory Herman-Giddens, Esq.

When it comes to your estate planning, how should you handle your timeshare? If you have a revocable trust, should you transfer ownership of the timeshare to your trust? Should you instead continue to hold it in your name, or jointly with another family member? What if you do not use it very often and, despite your efforts to get your adult children to use it, it mostly just goes unused? Here are a few things to consider.

The Case for Owning Your Timeshare in Your Trust

Suppose you find significant value in timeshare ownership. You may want to consider retitling the timeshare in the name of your living trust. In Florida and most states, and depending on the contract, a timeshare interest is considered real property. This is important to know because in most states if you die owning real property in your sole name, it will be subject to an often timely and perhaps expensive probate proceeding for it to pass to your heirs. In Florida, probate and attorneys’ fees for a proceeding to transfer a time share can exceed $5,000. Owning your timeshare in your revocable trust is one of the best ways to ensure that your named trust beneficiaries can take ownership of your timeshare after you are gone without going through probate.

When you first purchase a timeshare, make sure you understand the requirements to transfer it at your death. If the seller cannot with certainty tell you how you can transfer the timeshare (and show you language in the contract supporting their answer), you should seek the counsel of an experienced timeshare or real estate attorney before signing the contract. This distinction can make a difference of thousands of dollars of probate costs and frustration upon your death or disability. You will also want to check your contract or with the timeshare management company to determine whether there will be a fee assessed for the transfer of your timeshare from your name to the name of your trust.

Ultimately, the decision to title your timeshare into the name of your trust is a very fact-specific decision. Asking questions and reading your timeshare contract carefully can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Reasons Not to Title Your Timeshare in the Name of Your Trust


Continue Reading Should You Own Your Timeshare in Your Trust?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented impacts on the residential real estate market. The warning signs for Phase I were not easily detected, and almost overnight, the parties to such transactions, as well as those essential to closing such transactions, had to re-evaluate their means and methods of conducting business. Below are some tips for those buying or selling real estate in a pandemic:

Tips for Buyers

  • Add a specific contract amendment addressing potential coronavirus-related delays. Many state realtor associations have provided a coronavirus addendum for use by agents. For example, the Florida Association of Realtors has set forth a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Extension Addendum to Contract to address coronavirus-related delays. This particular Addendum may be utilized with all existing Florida Association of Realtors contracts, inclusive of the various FAR/BAR contracts.
  • In Collier County, Florida, the Naples Area Board of Realtors (“NABOR”), have both a coronavirus addendum and amendment for use with its NABOR existing form contracts. Both the State and local coronavirus addenda provide for time period extensions for the closing date, financing period, inspection period, title cure period, and due diligence periods, as well as allowing the Buyer to receive an escrow deposit refund under select circumstances of lender loan disapproval.
  • Notwithstanding the benefit of these new addenda, buyers should seek legal counsel to review and/or customize a coronavirus addendum or amendment to maximize the buyer’s protection.

Tips for Sellers


Continue Reading Tips for Buying and Selling Residential Real Estate in a Pandemic

On April 2, 2020, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-94, which placed a moratorium on mortgage foreclosure actions, as well as residential eviction actions related to the non-payment of rent. The purpose of the moratorium was to provide targeted, temporary relief to Floridians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Executive Order 20-94 was enacted, three additional orders were signed by Governor DeSantis in order to extend the stay.

Most recently, on July 29, 2020, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-180, which extended the foreclosure and eviction moratorium through September 1, 2020. However, the new order made substantial changes to limit the types of cases that are covered by the moratorium.

Changes to the stay on mortgage foreclosures

Previously, all mortgage foreclosure cases were suspended, regardless of the reason the foreclosure action was filed. In contrast, under the new order, the foreclosure stay only extends to “single-family mortgagors adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency”, and only for cases where the default is directly tied to non-payment.


Continue Reading Important Update Regarding Florida’s Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures

As of July 1, 2020, Florida law no longer requires leases for a term of more than a year, residential or commercial, to be signed in the presence of two witnesses. In fact, witnesses are no longer required on any real property leases. See,  http://laws.flrules.org/2020/102

While the legislative bill that led to the new law

(As published in the “Roundtable” in the July 2020 Issue of Suite Life Magazine)

While residential tenancies have many terms and protections set out in the Florida statutes that cannot be waived, the same cannot be said about commercial tenancies. As a result, the general rule of thumb is that if a condition or situation is not addressed by your commercial lease, the Florida statutes will be of no use.

Thus, commercial property owners and landlords should always strive to use the most comprehensive lease agreement with their tenants. Below are some of the most common “absent provisions” that have come back to bite a commercial landlord.

Tenant Improvements

Your lease should be specific about which party has the authority to approve all plans and hire the contractors. The lease should also contain very specific information about the payment of any tenant improvement allowance (lump sum versus payment in the form of rent abatement) and the timing of such payment.

Casualty Loss

In the event of a casualty (fire, storm, etc.), the lease should state who is entitled to the insurance proceeds. There should be deadlines within which the landlord or tenant are required to make repairs, and there should always be a provision that addresses whether a lease may be terminated in the event of a casualty that renders the property unusable.

Non-Monetary Default


Continue Reading Commercial Leasing: The Devil is in the Details

Guest post by Nick J. Oliveri, Summer Law Clerk

In late June, Governor DeSantis approved Florida’s version of the Uniform Commercial Real Estate Receivership Act (“UCRERA”) and the Act became effective July 1, 2020. This law begins its life in a time of great uncertainty for the Florida business community as the Sunshine State’s recently-relaxed business restrictions underwent a near full reversal as COVID-19 cases spiked around the state. This retightening of COVID-19 business restrictions and the uncertainty associated with it will likely mean Florida businesses may continue to struggle. This is where UCRERA comes in.

UCRERA codifies Florida common law around receivership and even expanded it in some cases. Those involved in Florida’s commercial real estate industry, whether on the lending or the borrowing side, would do well to take note of these changes as an increase in foreclosures is predicted as a result of COVID-19’s negative impact on Florida’s businesses.

What do Florida lenders need to look out for?

If you are a commercial lender, this law is definitely in your favor due to the expansive powers it gives receivers to help pay back the commercial lenders who appoint them. Lenders should focus on three things:

  • the mandatory receivership duties under UCRERA;
  • what actions receivers are allowed to do “in the ordinary course of business” and outside of it; and,
  • what actions they need court approval for.

The latter two things often go hand in hand as you will see below.

Impact on Borrowers

Although this sounds bad for borrowers, borrowers should be on the lookout for language like “with court approval” because that means a borrower will likely have the chance to contest whatever the receiver is trying to do.


Continue Reading Understanding Florida’s Commercial Property Receivership Act and its Impact on Lenders and Borrowers Amidst COVID-19

Permit Extensions for Emergency Declarations

Pursuant to Florida Statute 252.363, the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency tolls the period remaining to exercise rights under a permit or other authorization, essentially extending the life of the permit or authorization.

The expiration date of the permit or authorization is tolled for the duration of the emergency declaration plus an additional six months, and applies to the following:

  • development orders issued by a local government;
  • building permits;
  • permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district; and
  • the buildout date of a development of regional impact.

On March 9, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52 declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency. Such declaration triggers the provisions of Florida Statute 252.363 and allows extensions of the permits and authorizations mentioned above.

Requests for extensions must be submitted to the appropriate permitting authority within 90 days after the emergency declaration has expired. Executive Order 20-52 is set to expire on May 8, 2020, unless further extended.

Suspension of Mortgage Foreclosures and Evictions


Continue Reading COVID-19: Real Estate Updates Halfway Through the Stay-at-Home Order

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 epidemic is affecting virtually every sector in some way, shape, or form. The real estate sector is no exception. Although the modern real estate world has slowly moved away from face-to-face deals, there are still aspects of real estate that require some type of face-to-face contact.

How do we keep moving forward while remaining safe and healthy?

With most banks, law firms, and offices closing up to the general public, you may be wondering how to fulfill the time constraints of your contract and how a deal can be closed. In our downtown Fort Myers office, we have set-up a drive-thru conference room for signings.

Discuss the best options and next steps with your real estate attorney. Depending on the contents of your contract and individual situation, a contract extension may be the best option. However, it may also be feasible to continue to closing using the proper resources.

Force majeure clauses


Continue Reading COVID-19 Impact on Real Estate Contracts and Closings

Have you decided to sell your home? Perhaps you are considering to go it alone without the assistance of a realtor to potentially save thousands of dollars in commissions. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Price Your Home Competitively. You may utilize online pricing calculators like Zillow’s Zestimate, or websites like Trulia, to assist you with determining what comparable homes sold for in your community. They are only estimates so you may want to obtain a competitive market analysis from a real estate agent, usually free, or hire a local home appraiser.
  2. Prepare Your Home. Make your home look great on both the exterior and interior. De-clutter and brighten up your home, clean it from top to bottom, and ensure it smells good.
  3. Draft Your Listing Ad. Your ad should be thorough, yet concise. Be sure to include important home facts such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and any upgrades and/or improvements. The photos of the home should be as appealing as possible. Considering hiring a professional photographer.
  4. Advertisement. Since so many buyers begin their search online, you should consider some popular websites such as Zillow, Trulia, HomeFinder, FSBO and Craigslist.
  5. Host an Open House. Once your home is listed for sale, host an open house. To prepare, visit a few open houses in the community and take notes. Create an information sheet with photos of your home for potential buyers or print copies of your ad from Zillow or the like. Schedule your open house on the weekend in the early afternoon.


Continue Reading 5 Tips for Selling Your Home Without a Real Estate Agent

Did you know that liens can be filed on your real property without your knowledge or consent, even if they’re not valid? Did you know those liens can affect title to your property? Did you also know someone can create a fraudulent deed that gives your real property to someone else? It’s all very scary and, unfortunately, happens frequently. That’s why the Lee County Clerk of Courts recently launched a new Property Fraud Alert program.

The Property Fraud Alert program is completely free and allows subscribers to register their name (or any name) into the fraud alert system, and the system will alert registered users within 48 hours if a document has been recorded with the name of a registered user. This system will allow early detection of potentially fraudulent activity, which allows property owners to act fast and avoid issues down the road.

Why is the system so important?


Continue Reading New Property Fraud Alert Service Available to Lee County Property Owners