Fund News and Alerts


2023 Sightings of Florida’s ”Legal Chameleon”

2023 Sightings of Florida’s ”Legal Chameleon”

Florida’s homestead exemption laws have been compared by legal scholars and courts to a chameleon “which changes color to accord with the background against which it is viewed.” Crosby and Miller, Our Legal Chameleon: The Florida Homestead Exemption, 2 U. Fla. L. Rev. 12 (1949). Under Florida’s Constitution and Statutes, there have developed three distinct aspects of Florida homestead law: (1) exemption from creditor’s claims, (2) restrictions on alienation, and (3) tax exemptions and benefits. Art. X, Sec. 4(a), Fla. Const., protects the homestead from forced sale by creditors unless the judgment stems from one of the limited exceptions in the Constitution. Art. X, Sec. 4(c) Fla. Const., establishes restrictions on the alienation of a homestead. Restrictions with respect to the devise and descent of homestead property are codified in Secs. 732.401 and 732.4015, F.S. Art. VII, Secs. 4(d) and 6, Fl. Const., set forth Florida’s homestead tax exemption laws which are codified in Ch. 196 and Sec. 193.155, F.S. This update covers the 2023 reported state and federal case sightings of the Florida “legal chameleon” (a/k/a Homestead).

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02/01/2024


Fraud and Forgery - Catch Me If You Can

Fraud and Forgery - Catch Me If You Can

The rise in instances of fraud and forgery in real estate transactions continues to sound alarms across the industry. The statistics governing fraud and forgery and the way the parties are targeted gives all of us cause for concern. CertifID, a third-party verification service, reports that 2023 data it collected revealed that there was a record fivefold increase in mortgage payoff fraud attempts from the first quarter to the second quarter alone.  Read the article

01/02/2024


Policy Provision Made Plain: Liability Noncumulative

Policy Provision Made Plain: Liability Noncumulative

With the recent rise in the number of fraudulent transactions, there has been a related increase in claims for complete failure of title. In these circumstances, both the insured owner and lender may have covered claims. Provision 10 of the 2021 Owner Policy, Liability Noncumulative, reduces the amount of funds available to be paid to the insured owner by the amount that the insurer has paid under a covered claim to the holder of a mortgage on the owner’s property. There has been similar language in the ALTA (American Land Title Association) policies since at least the 1970’s. Although the provision in the new 2021 polices is not new, it is still often misunderstood. Read the article

12/01/2023


Recognizing and Addressing Construction-Related Claims of Lien on T...

Recognizing and Addressing Construction-Related Claims of Lien on Title

The Florida Construction Lien Law, Ch. 713, Part 1, F.S., (the Act) serves a dual purpose. Its origins were to establish financial protections to those who furnish labor, services, or materials to improve real property (a lienor) by creating a nexus linking those who improve the land to payment guaranteed by it. The Act also seeks to protect landowners from charges against their property when improvements are being made to their land.  Read the article 11/01/2023


Application of Surveys to The ALTA 9-06 Endorsements With Florida M...

Application of Surveys to The ALTA 9-06 Endorsements With Florida Modifications

The Form 9 endorsements as approved by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) were modified for use in Florida. For the purposes of this article, the entire series of ALTA 9-06 Endorsements with Florida modifications will be referred to as “Form 9 Endorsement.” As part of the closing process, a Fund Member typically receives a request from a lender and occasionally from an owner for the issuance of an unmodified (often referred to as “clean”) Form 9 Endorsement with the title insurance policy. The Fund’s Underwriting Department often receives inquiries seeking assistance with the review of a survey and determining whether an unmodified Form 9 Endorsement can be issued. This article addresses some common issues seen when reviewing a survey and its effect on issuing an unmodified Form 9 Endorsement.
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10/02/2023


New Measures to Reduce Real Property Fraud

New Measures to Reduce Real Property Fraud

Session Law 2023-238: Florida Legislature Creates and Enhances Anti-Fraud Law, New Quitclaim Deed, and Recording Requirement

During the 2023 Legislative Session, the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 1419. On Jun. 14, 2023, the bill was approved by Governor Ron DeSantis and assigned Session Law Number 2023-238. Principally, the new law creates procedures and guidelines designed to thwart real property fraud. In addition, new provisions are included which govern actions to quiet title resulting from alleged fraudulent conveyances as well as mandating a new form quitclaim deed. Except as otherwise noted, the provisions of the new law are effective on Jul. 1, 2023.  This article will set forth many of the details of the legislation. 

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09/01/2023


Conveyances of Real Property Under the Foreign Entities Act

Conveyances of Real Property Under the Foreign Entities Act

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 264 (SB 264) into law on May 8, 2023. The law has an effective date of Jul. 1, 2023, and may have a tremendous impact on the ownership and conveyance of real property in Florida. The bill creates Secs. 692.201 – 692.205, F.S., and is commonly referred to as the Conveyances to Foreign Entities Act (Act).  The Act contains wide prohibitions with respect to foreign ownership of certain real property. Under the Act, ownership includes direct or indirect ownership of, or a controlling interest in, real property. Although the Act does not impose compliance liability on the issuing agent or underwriter, being familiar with its terms allows agents to be better prepared to discuss its implications with buyers and sellers. The Act applies to certain types of property and certain foreign principals, so it is important to understand how each of these is defined. 

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08/01/2023


New Trust on The Block: Community Property Trust Act

New Trust on The Block: Community Property Trust Act

Effective July 1, 2021, the Florida Legislature passed the Community Property Trust Act as Ch. 736, Part XV, F.S., (the Act). Prior to the Act, Florida was a pure “common law property” state, meaning that the way title was held determined who owned the property. In community property states, “community property” means that the assets acquired during the marriage are owned by each spouse equally, regardless of how title is held. The Community Property Trust Act gives people the option of holding assets in Florida as “community property” by transferring them to a community property trust.

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07/01/2023


Standing By: Letters of Credit in Commercial Real Estate Transactions

Standing By: Letters of Credit in Commercial Real Estate Transactions

A letter of credit (LOC) is a document from a financial institution guaranteeing payment once the conditions of the LOC are met. They may be useful in a variety of commercial real estate scenarios, from purchase and sale to landlord/tenant issues. 

Another description of the LOC comes from the decision in In re Lancaster Steel Co., Inc. 284 B.R. 152 (S.D. Fla. 2002): “A unique commercial vehicle designed to substitute the creditworthiness of a neutral party for that of a party interested in an underlying transaction and assure prompt payment of obligations.

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06/01/2023


An Easy Way to Promote Your Practice & Value to Real Estate Profess...

An Easy Way to Promote Your Practice & Value to Real Estate Professionals

We know you are essential to the closing process, and to help real estate professionals and consumers gain the same understanding, we have launched a statewide “Value of a Real Estate Attorney” awareness campaign. The campaign will be promoted on the below channels. 

  • Florida Realtor Legal News
  • Title Report Ads
  • Paid Search ads - internet online searches
  • Social Media
  • Outdoor Billboards - Orlando, Miami, Tampa
  • Realtor Association Magazines - Orlando, Miami, Tampa
05/25/2023

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