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Avoiding Personal Property Disputes

 The Juris Doctor  –

James A. Cioffi J.D., Attorney-At-Law

 

Avoiding Personal Property Disputes

People often ask what is the best way to handle the purchase of furniture and other personal property when you are buying real estate.

A separate agreement should be prepared that specifies the items of personal property that are being sold and the price to be paid by wire transfer simultaneously with the real property purchase.  Avoid ambiguous terms – such as “to be agreed upon,” “all furniture and furnishings,” or “as seen on _____________, 2017.”  There is no way to prove what was seen on a specific date and by whom.  The best method is to attach a detailed inventory list of the personal property with descriptions, brand names, and model numbers.  Photographs and/or videos will help if any issue arises as long as the date and time of the photo or video is recorded. I also caution against a provision such as “all contents except personal items.”  There is no objective standard when referring to personal items. What is considered personal to a seller can be different from what the buyer considers to be personal.

Last year a nightmare situation arose by the use of the term “turnkey.”  The seller and buyer had different interpretations of the word.  I was called the day before the closing to represent the buyer. The seller had removed items of personal property because the seller believed “turnkey” meant one set of each category of items.  The buyer asserted that all of the contents of the home were included in the transaction.  It was the first closing I attended in my career in which the closing conference table was filled with all the disputed items that the seller had argued were not included in the transaction.  The seller realized there would be no closing without them delivered to the closing and towels, bedding, lamps, utensils, plates, pots, pans, etc. placed on the conference table.  There was barely room for the buyer to sign closing documents.

Avoid the possibility of a dispute by including a detailed inventory list with the sale of personal property.

 

 

 

James A. Cioffi is one of the most experienced attorneys in South Florida today. In fact, he writes a legal advice column under theme of “The Juris Doctor” Feel free to contact James A. Cioffi confidentially regarding your legal question and he will personally respond. He can be reached at 561-747-6000 or visit his website.

© Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.

 

James A. Cioffi, Esquire

The Juris Doctor

250 Tequesta Drive, Suite 200

Jupiter, FL 33469

561-747-6000

TENANTS: BEWARE

James A. Cioffi J.D., The Juris Doctor

Attorney-At-Law

 

Tenants Beware

 

Advice to tenants before you sign a lease:

First and foremost, you want to verify that the person who represents that he or she is the owner of the property is actually the owner of the property.  Recently a couple moved into a home after giving the “owner” first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit.  A month later the couple was contacted by the actual owner and realized they were the victims of a scam.  The person they thought was the owner had broken into the vacant home, changed the locks and advertised it as a rental.  Within a week, the impersonator had the funds from the tenant and left the area.  With technology, you can access the public records in the county to verify the name of the owner of a property. Once you determine the name of the owner, do not be afraid to ask for a photo identification to verify the identity.  You will be asked to verify your identity so it is reasonable to ask the other party to verify also.

Be aware that a residence may be owned by a trust or a legal entity, i.e. a corporation, limited liability company or a partnership. In that case, you want to verify that person acting on behalf of the trust is the trustee or the person acting on behalf of the entity is the officer, manager or partner authorized to sign the lease.

It is also advisable to inspect the home to make sure all equipment and appliances are in working order. Then document in writing all matters that need repair.  You do not want to live in a rental with a multitude of problems.  The courts are filled with cases in which the tenants and landlords have disputes about the condition of the property.  Once a problem develops about a repair, tenants often withhold the rent or take other action.  Failure to pay rent entitles the landlord to legal remedies, including eviction, so a standoff can ensue between the parties.

I am often asked if leases for more than one year are legal.  The answer is yes- as long as there are two witnesses to each party’s signature.  A lease is a contract and each party has obligations. Be sure you understand the contents of a lease.  An attorney review of a lease for you will clarify your obligations and those of the landlord. You do not want to be told at a later date, “You should have read the fine print!”

Real Estate Attorney, Jupiter, FL

James A. Cioffi is one of the most experienced attorneys in South Florida today. In fact, he writes a legal advice column under theme of “The Juris Doctor” Feel free to contact James A. Cioffi confidentially regarding your legal question and he will personally respond. He can be reached at 561-747-6000 or visit his website at http://jamescioffi.com

 

 

© Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.

 

James A. Cioffi, Esquire

The Juris Doctor

250 Tequesta Drive, Suite 200

Jupiter, FL 33469

561-747-6000

 

 

 

 

What is Life Estate?

What is a Life Estate?

 

A life estate is created in Florida with a deed when a party retains an interest in the property for life (life tenant) with the remainder interest to other parties. A life estate can be a traditional one or an enhanced life estate (also known as a Lady Bird life estate). With the enhanced life estate, the life tenant may sell or mortgage the property without the joinder of the remainder interests. As a result when selling the property, the parties with the remainder interest do not have to sign the listing agreement, contract or closing documents if you have the enhanced life estate.  It is easy to determine which life estate you have. Examine your deed.

If it is an enhanced life estate, the following words will appear after your name as the Grantee or Second Party:

for a life estate without any liability for waste, and with full power and authority in said life tenant to sell, convey, mortgage, lease or otherwise manage and dispose of the property described herein, in fee simple, with or without consideration, without joinder of the remaindermen, and with full power and authority to retain any and all proceeds generated thereby,

 

By the way, the enhanced life estate deed is known as a Lady Bird Deed because it is named after our former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

 

If your life estate is the traditional one without the language cited above, the parties with the remainder interest will have to sign the listing agreement, contract and closing documents when the property is sold.  It is important to consult an attorney when drafting a life estate deed to be sure you understand the alternatives available to you. The enhanced life estate is an estate planning tool used by many attorneys to avoid probate of real property after death.  It is also an alternative to a trust. As a real estate and estate planning attorney, I counsel clients regarding these matters.

 

James A. Cioffi is one of the most experienced attorneys in South Florida today. In fact, he writes a legal advice column under theme of “The Juris Doctor” Feel free to contact James A. Cioffi confidentially regarding your legal question and he will personally respond. He can be reached at 561-747-6000 or visit his website at http://jamescioffi.com

© Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.

 

James A. Cioffi, Esquire

The Juris Doctor

250 Tequesta Drive, Suite 200

Jupiter, FL 33469

561-747-6000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Effective Dating

Effective Dating

 

The effective date of a contract is the date on which all parties have executed and delivered the contract to the other party. If you, as a buyer,  were not in the presence of the seller when you signed the contract, the effective date is the date the last person signed and initialed any changes and delivered the contract to the other party. Every contract is executed in a different manner so there are many fact scenarios to consider. I always suggest when a contract is signed that all parties communicate to confirm the effective date.  In that way everyone knows the date and will be in agreement when calculating time periods. Simply circulate an e-mail so that everyone can easily confirm or voice an objection. Your real estate agent will facilitate this process.

 

I was recently contacted by a buyer who did not receive all the pages of the contract from the seller.  Delivery of the contract, and all accompanying disclosures and riders, is a key component of the effective date.  In this instance the seller had not delivered the contract to the buyer and the effective date had not yet occurred. None of the time periods which were calculated from the effective date had begun. The date for inspections and the mortgage commitment due date are dependent upon the effective date.

 

In another transaction, I was contacted by the listing real estate agent because the buyer’s lender requested a legible copy of the contract be circulated for signatures. It was vital for the parties to include a provision in the second contract to confirm it was a duplicate of the first and executed for legibility purposes only. Otherwise the second contract would be considered a new contract with a different effective date from the first contract. There could have been disastrous consequences if either party believed the second contract was independent from the first.   It was fortunate that the listing agent had contacted me when she received the second contract.

We always want to be conscious of the execution and delivery of contracts so that the effective date is known to all parties.  I call it “Effective Dating” of the contract.

Real Estate Attorney, Jupiter, FL

James A. Cioffi is one of the most experienced attorneys in South Florida today. In fact, he writes a legal advice column under theme of “The Juris Doctor” Feel free to contact James A. Cioffi confidentially regarding your legal question and he will personally respond. He can be reached at 561-747-6000 or visit his website at http://jamescioffi.com In fact, he writes a legal advice column under theme of “Ask The Juris Doctor”.

© Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.

 

James A. Cioffi, Esquire

The Juris Doctor

250 Tequesta Drive, Suite 200

Jupiter, FL 33469

561-747-6000

 

 

Home Loan Modifications

home loan modifications

Not being able to make your mortgage payment can very stressful and emotional. Whether you are living alone or have a family, your house is your home and it is a scary prospect to think you may lose it.

What is a home loan modification?

Loan modifications are reductions in payment by your lender saving the lender the cost and hassle of a foreclosure sale of your home. James A. Cioffi can help you get your payment reduced to approximately 31% of your income, reduce interest rates, financing rates, defer payments or exit the obligation to avoid foreclosure, if you qualify. A loan modification is designed to help homeowners who are unable to make their current loan payment obligations.

Why get a home loan modification?

Protecting your credit score is one major reason people seek a loan modification. If you are skipping mortgage payments, you may have already seen a negative impact on your credit score. This impact will be significantly lower with a loan modification compared to a foreclosure. James A. Cioffi can help homeowners maintain their property and protect their credit score from additional impact. Consult James A. Cioffi to handle your home loan modification.

Home Loan Modification Requirements

To be considered for home loan modification, the homeowner must be able to afford the new payment structure of the loan and must produce the proper documents to be considered for the loan.

• Your Monthly mortgage statement.
• Information about other mortgages on your home, if applicable
• Two most recent pay stubs from those contributing to the mortgage payment.
• Last two years of tax returns
• If self-employed, the most recent quarterly or year-to-date profit and loss statement
• Documentation of income you receive from other sources: (alimony, child support, social security, etc.)
• Two most recent bank statements
• A utility bill showing home owner name and property address
• Unemployment insurance letter, if applicable
• Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all of your credit cards
• Information about your savings and other assets
• A hardship letter describing any circumstances that caused your income to be reduced or expenses to be increased: (job loss, divorce, illness, etc.)

 

James A. Cioffi is one of the most experienced attorneys in South Florida today. In fact, he writes a legal advice column under theme of “The Juris Doctor” Feel free to contact James A. Cioffi confidentially regarding your legal question and he will personally respond. He can be reached at 561-747-6000 or visit his website at http://jamescioffi.com In fact, he writes a legal advice column under theme of “Ask The Juris Doctor”.

 

© Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.

 

James A. Cioffi, Esquire

The Juris Doctor

250 Tequesta Drive, Suite 200

Jupiter, FL 33469

561-747-6000