September, 2013

Are Land Trusts Good For Anything?

By Jackson Law Group
September 30th, 2013

Posted in Asset Protection,Probate & Trust Administration,Real Estate Law,Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

A land trust is “an express written agreement or arrangement by which use, confidence, or trust is declared of any land […] under which the title to real property […] is vested in a trustee.”  Fla. Stat. § 689.071.   It is an average tool at keeping property ownership partially concealed from prying eyes, but it does not generally offer great asset protection from creditors.  Most land trusts are self-settled trusts.  Self-settled trusts are trusts that are formed by the property “owner” for the benefit of the same.  Self-settled trusts typically offer little to no asset protection for the property “owner”/beneficiary.  When a creditor properly seeks, through the discovery process promulgated by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, disclosure of property that the beneficiary has an interest in, the beneficiary will usually have to disclose the land trust property.  Once disclosed, the property of the self-settled land trust may be subject to the creditor just the same as if the property were held individually by the owner.  Many attorneys maintain that land trusts offer little to no asset protection and are simply a facade giving the illusion of protection while providing the benefit of limited privacy.

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Florida Property Taxes – You Must Act Now if You Wish to Contest Your County’s Proposed Assessments

By Jackson Law Group
September 9th, 2013

Posted in Tax Law & IRS Defense

Your local Florida property appraiser mails out the Notice of Proposed Property Taxes (Truth in Millage or “TRIM” form) in August of each year.  Property owners or taxpayers who wish to contest or appeal their property value to the Value Adjustment Board must file a petition (one of the DR-486 forms) with the clerk of court within 25 days of the Notice of Proposed Property Taxes.  For St. Johns County as an example, the petition for adjustment must be filed no later than September 13, 2013.

Typically as with most legal matters, it’s best to try and resolve the matter prior to filing a petition.  If time permits, it’s advisable to contact your local property appraiser’s office to resolve issues such as market value, classification, or an exemption.  Keep in mind that there are many other issues concerning property taxes in Florida that can be applicable, such as portability, the Save Our Homes cap (currently 1.7% for 2013 per the CPI index, which is lower than the 3%), joint ownership or adding someone to your deed, inheriting family-owned property, or the transference of property.  More information can be found at the below two Florida Department of Revenue websites.  As always, promptly and timely consult with a qualified tax attorney should the need arise.

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