We love providing you with valuable legal information through the articles in our blog. In 2019 we spent time focusing on the diverse array of legal practice areas we service.
This year, we explored topics ranging from long-standing fields like “personal injury” to relatively new focus areas like “student loan law.” We covered important issues like legalized marijuana, child custody, bullying, mortgages, Uber accidents, and more.
With every article, we keep an eye on readership. We want to know what posts resonate with our audience so we can always be improving.
Based on user engagement, we’d like to share with you the most popular posts from 2019.
When you go to court, you can expect that the judge that is hearing your case is impartial and will fairly treat both sides. While having an unbiased judge is almost exclusively the case, there could be a time where you believe your judge is biased. Read more.
What is a Lady Bird Deed, and why is it beneficial? Florida is one of only a handful of states that recognize a Lady Bird Deed. A person who creates a Lady Bird Deed, also known as an Enhanced Life Estate Deed, transfers property to himself for his lifetime. Learn more.
Depending upon your child’s needs, obtaining the initial Individualized Education Plan or sometimes known as an Individualized education program (IEP) may be a simple process or a little more challenging, depending on specific conditions. Read more.
The Student Debt Crisis in Numbers There are various reasons which prevent people from being able to make their student loan payments. As of 2019, Americans collectively owe over $1.56 Trillion in student loan debt. This is spread out by nearly 45 million individuals who are paying back their student loans. Read the full article.
An unfortunate condition in our society is that bullying happens. It happens every day, and the target of the bully are often people who would have never guessed they’d be bullied. The bullies are everywhere; they are children and adults, men, and women. It’s a pervasive aspect of the world in which we live. Read more.
As we welcome 2020, we’d love to hear from you about topics you’d like us to cover in our blog. Drop us an email with your ideas, and we’ll explore how we can write meaningful and educational content.
Table of Contents
What is bullying?
Who is at risk of being bullied?
Who is at risk of becoming a bully?
What are the effects of bullying?
How can I stop a bully?
Can a lawyer help if your child is being bullied?
An unfortunate condition in our society is that bullying happens. It happens every day, and the target of the bully are often people who would have never guessed they’d be bullied. The bullies are everywhere; they are children and adults, men, and women. It’s a pervasive aspect of the world in which we live.
Bullying takes many forms, the types of bullying range from physical bullying to mental abuse to online bullying. Often it’s challenging to pinpoint bullying behavior. Sometimes it is visible, and other times it’s much more subtle.
Bullying happens in many places, including school, church, sport teams, on the internet, the workplace, and in public. Generally, wherever people gather, there’s an opportunity for someone to be bullied.
But what are the effects of bullying? Can it be stopped? What rights does someone who is being bullied have? And, can a lawyer help if you or your child is being bullied?
What is bullying?
There are quite a few definitions of the term. Still, the generally accepted meaning of bullying was created in 2014 by the Department of Health, Center for Disease Control and Department of Education. This definition is federally uniform and was drafted for research and surveillance. In the description, it is cited that bullying includes unwanted aggressive behavior, observed or perceived imbalance of power, and repetition of the behavior or high likelihood of recurrence.
In our common and current language, the definition describes two “modes” of bullying, direct and indirect bullying.
Direct implies that the acts of a bully occur in the presence of a targeted individual. This could be physical and in-person or directly targeted through online channels.
Indirect suggests that the bully is not directly communicating with the targeted individual. A clear example of this is when a bully spreads rumors about a targeted person or child.
Along with the two modes in the definition, there are also four types of bullying, these are categorized as verbal, physical, relational (when an effort is made to cause harm to the relationships or reputation of an individual), and damage to property.
An addition method of aggressive intimidation is called cyberbullying; this occurs when the bully attempts to cause physical, mental, or emotional harm to someone through the use of electronic methods. These attempts of aggression are usually either verbal, threatening through instant messenger, for example, or relational, like spreading rumors through social media. Cyberbullying can also cause damage to property if the outcome of the bullying modifies, deletes, or destroys a targeted individual’s private data that is stored in some electronic method. For example, if someone were to gain access to online image storage and deface or delete the target’s pictures, this would be considered damage to property.
With so many variations and interpretations of the definition, it’s easy to see why many people might be unsure of what is happening to them, or their child is considered bullying. The only sure way to find out would be to speak to someone knowledgeable in the legal implications of the threatening or intimidating acts.
Who is at risk of being bullied?
While people of all ages are bullied, we often hear about children who are bullied in school, sports, church, online, or in some social environment.
When it comes to children and their risk of being bullied, there are some characteristics that we find to be common. Now, as you read this, understand that just because a child might possess one or more of these characteristics, it does not mean that they will be bullied or that they have been bullied. It merely means that there is an increased likelihood that they could be the target of a bully.
Further, many of these characteristics can apply to adults who are maliciously targeted by a bully.
When cases of reported bullying are examined, some of the traits associated with the targets of bullies are:
- Someone who is considered unique or different from their typical peer group. This could be someone who thinks or acts differently or someone who displays physical differences such as being overweight or underweight, wears clothes that are considered “uncool,” wears glasses, or is a standout in some way, like the new kid at school.
- Children and adults who are considered weak or diminutive in some way. These are usually kids who are seen as unable to defend themselves.
- Children with low self-esteem, who are depressed, have mental health issues or display some form of anxiety.
- Children who do not have many or any friends. These are the “loners” in the school population.
- Often children who do not get along with others, have poor social skills, or are seen as irritating are the target of bullying.
While these guidelines suggest who is likely to be a target of a bully, it’s worth noting that there are cases where the subject to aggressive behavior has none of the above characteristics. They might be a popular kid in school who has a lot of friends and high self-esteem, and they are still the target of a bully.
Ultimately, we need guidelines to study a topic, and bullying is no different. But like many different areas of study, so much exists in the gray area that we need to be conscious and aware of the signs of bullying. We might encounter a targeted child who no one thought would be bullied. It’s essential to recognize all victims of bullying.
Now, there are two sides to the concept of bullying. We’ve covered those who are at risk of being bullied. To get a complete picture, we need to consider the risk factors that contribute to someone becoming a bully? Just who among us is more likely to bully others?
Who is at risk of becoming a bully?
Under no circumstances is it right or justified to be a bully. It is crucial, though, for those of us who work hard to stop the bullying to understand what traits are more likely to contribute to someone becoming a bully. By knowing, we have a decided advantage when we work to prevent bullying.
We will also mention here that while we are talking about children who could be bullies, these characteristics could also apply to adults.
We can generally classify children into two distinct groups when we examine the likelihood of them becoming a bully.
The first group is those who are isolated from their peers. Like the bullied, these children are anxious, depressed, have low self-esteem, are less involved in school and social activities, are subject to peer pressure, and cannot quickly identify or empathize with the feelings and emotions of others.
The second group of children is nearly the opposite. They are fashionable and have a large group of friends. They seem to span multiple groups of peers from the more athletic to the academic to the more socially connected. These children are increasingly concerned about their social stance or popularity and like it when they are in control of others, even those in their peer groups.
Some of the factors that indicate a child is more likely to be a bully include:
- They are aggressive among their peers and toward others, including those they might not know very well or others who are outside of their peer group.
- These children are easily frustrated and have a difficult time coping when things do now go exactly their way.
- They have domestic issues or problems at home, including limited or no parental involvement.
- They openly think negatively of others and express those feelings either through thoughts, verbalizations, or actions.
- These children view violence as a positive tactic in dealing with situations.
- They have difficulty following rules or often believe that rules do not apply to them.
It truly is worth repeating that just because a child displays one or more of these behaviors does not mean that they are a bully. No one would ever want to classify a child as a bully when they are, in fact, not one.
What are the effects of bullying?
Sadly, the effects of bullying extend well beyond the individual who is targeted with aggressive behavior. Bullying affects three groups of children and adults. It affects the bullied or the target individual, it affects the bully themselves, and it affects the bystanders, including family, friends, and acquaintances who might have witnessed the abusive acts.
The child being bullied has an increased risk of depression, anxiety, anti-social behavior, and loneliness. They are more likely to lose interest in activities outside of the home and might isolate themselves from their family and friends. In some cases, thoughts or indicators of suicide might exist.
Children being bullied might also experience physical health problems as a result of the stress of the bullying. Further, they may suffer from decreased academic performance.
The child who is bullying also suffers. These children are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, engage in promiscuous sexual activity, drop out of school, get in trouble with the law, and isolate themselves from their peers.
Moreover, the bully will often carry their behaviors into adulthood and become bullies in the workplace and at home. They are more likely to engage in abusive relationships with a significant other and their children.
The family, friends, and bystanders who witness the direct or indirect acts or see the after-effects are impacted as well. Children who witness bullying might experience feelings of guilt or regret if they did nothing to stop the aggressive actions. These children are more likely to miss school because they are looking to avoid being bullied or witnessing the bully’s acts again.
How can I stop a bully?
To stop the behavior of bullying, everyone involved needs to take an active role. This includes parents or custodial adults, teachers, school administrators, executives in the workplace, bystanders, and the bullied.
As is the case with so many issues, education and awareness are critical components of preventing and stopping bullying. Everyone involved should be aware of the indicators that someone is at risk of being targeted by a bully or at risk of becoming a bully. Through education, early intervention can happen, and many instances of bullying can be prevented.
Another tactic that can be very effective in preventing bullying is opening the lines of communication between parents, guardians, teachers, school administrators, and children. When people feel comfortable talking about a complicated topic, it eases the difficulty when it is most important to do so. By creating clear channels of accessible communication, instances of bullying that might typically go unreported can be handled quickly and effectively.
Despite these effective tactics, there may still be times when these methods do not stop bullying. It’s during these times that involving a legal professional who focuses on bullying should be a consideration.
Can a lawyer help if your child is being bullied?
When traditional tactics of reporting bullying and communications with school administration and teachers are ineffective in stopping a bully, speaking with an attorney who focuses on bullying is, undoubtedly, an option.
Attorneys who focus on cases that involve bullying are trained to help the bullied children and their families pursue legal action against the schools, churches, organizations, or other parents who are not making attempts to prevent the aggressive acts from happening.
If you believe your child’s school, church, or organization is not actively working to prevent another child from bullying; please contact us to learn what legal options you have.
What is Wholesaling Real Estate?
Investing in real estate is an efficient way to make money and to diversify your investment portfolio. There are many different types of investment strategies that are commonly used to make money in the real estate industry. When people are starting, the difficulty is often “how am I going to invest in real estate if I do not have thousands of dollars saved up?” Wholesaling may provide you with an opportunity to make some money while spending very little out of your pocket. Wholesaling involves an investor entering into a contract with a homeowner for the purchase of their home, then he or she markets that property to other potential buyers. Once a new buyer is found, the investor will either double close on the property or assign their rights under the contract to the new back end buyer. The Investor will then keep the profit of the sales (if double closed) or keep an assignment fee charged by the new buyer.
Once you have found the right property, the objective is to get the seller to agree to the terms of a contract, and to execute said contract. The contract’s contents vary drastically among investors, with each investor incorporating different terms. One fact is for sure, a solid contract is necessary to protect your interests. Using a typical FARBAR contract gives the parties warranties and responsibilities/liabilities that many investors do not want to be incorporated into their wholesale contracts. There is not a one-size-fits-all contract. Investors should be prepared to modify their contract as needed for each deal.
Determining the Price
Investors often have a difficult time trying to determine the price point where they need to be in the contract. If you have a bad price point for your wholesale deal, you will lock down the seller’s property for weeks or months and will be unable to complete the deal with a back–end buyer. The most common way to determine the price point needed for an effective wholesale deal is to use the “70% of ARV rule.” ARV stands for “After Repair Value,” and this value is what the house would be expected to sell for if sold to a retail buyer after all necessary repairs have been made. The general rule of thumb is that an investor who is flipping a house needs to be in a deal with an expected 30% return. This figure also provides a buffer for the investor in case repair costs or other fees run higher than were estimated. To calculate your offer based on the above formula, you take the ARV and multiply this number by 70%. From that result, subtract out the expected repair cost of the property. The remaining figure is the highest amount of money you should offer to the seller. As an example, we will use a house with an ARV of $100,000.00 and an expected repair cost of $20,000.00:
($100,000.00 x .70)= $70,000.00
$70,000 – $20,000.00= $50,000.00.
In order to fix and flip this house, the investor would ideally need to get this property under contract at $50,000.00. Cutting the margins any shorter may lead to a loss on the flip, although it can be done. For a wholesaler, in order for you to find a back-end buyer, you will need to offer them this property at or as close to the $50,000 figure. If the wholesaler can get the property under contract for $45,000, they can assign that contract to a flipper and easily make a $5,000 assignment fee. The shorter you cut the margins, the harder it will be to find a back-end buyer.
Assignment vs. Double Close
An assignment occurs when a wholesaler gets a property under contract, then finds a new buyer. The wholesaler and the new buyer execute an assignment agreement in which the back-end buyer replaces the wholesaler under the original contract. Accompanying this agreement, the back-end buyer tenders a non-refundable assignment fee to the wholesaler. A double closing is two closings. The wholesaler closes on the property with the seller, then immediately sells that property to the new buyer. Typically, the wholesaler will negotiate and contract with the back-end buyer to have as much of the closing costs as possible paid on their behalf. Whether to assign a deal or double close on a deal is typically dependent on the facts of the individual deal. An assignment is often preferred because the investor will have fewer overhead expenses since they do not have to close on the deal. Doing a double closing may also benefit the wholesaler if they are making a lot of money on the deal because the seller will not know how much money the wholesaler is making off of the back-end buyer.
Wholesaling Real Estate, is it right for you?
The idea behind wholesaling is that the wholesaler is the middleman between the seller and the back-end buyer. In most cases, the houses contracted for are off-market properties, so the wholesaler is actually finding the property and relieving the back-end buyer of this responsibility. For this service, the wholesaler charges a fee, typically as an assignment fee. Wholesaling has received a bad rap because many people will nickel and dime the sellers, who are often disadvantaged in some way or another, in an attempt to make the most profit possible. Wholesaling provides a great source of income, and it is a good way to keep properties cycling. The profits can also be dumped back into the marketing budget to drum up more properties. It is possible to wholesale ethically if you take the time to learn the process and reach an agreement with the seller that is beneficial to both of you.
This blog does not cover all of the intricacies involved in a real estate transaction, but it should serve a good starting point for your ventures. If you would like to know more about wholesaling, The Orlando Law Group, PL has knowledgeable real estate attorneys to help you navigate the process.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes a minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and Federal, State, and local governments. Unless you fit into an exemption, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires virtually all employers to pay employees at least the federal minimum wage for each hour worked and to pay overtime for all hours worked more than 40 in a workweek. Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay, while exempt employees are not.
Most employees covered by the FLSA are non-exempt. Whether employees are exempt or non-exempt depends on (a) how much they are paid, (b) how they are paid, and (c) what kind of work they do. With few exceptions, to be exempt, an employee must (a) be paid at least $23,600 per year ($455 per week), (b) be paid on a salary basis, and (c) perform exempt job duties. Most employees must meet all three “tests” to be exempt from the FLSA. This blog is only regarding the FLSA pending changes. Keep in mind that this discussion is limited to rights under the FLSA changes. Exempt employees may have rights under other laws or by way of employment policies or contracts that exist outside of the scope of the FLSA.
On September 24, 2019, the Department of Labor reached a final rule that will increase minimum salary requirements for the administrative, professional, and executive exemptions from $23,600 per year ($455 per week), to $35,568 annually ($684 per week). This rule is set to take effect on January 1, 2020. For currently exempt employees, if you are making less than $35,568.00 annually, under the new changes, you would be a non-exempt employee. This means that you are entitled to overtime hours, even if you are a salaried employee. Non-exempt employees are entitled under the FLSA to time and one-half their “regular rate” of pay for each hour they actually work over the threshold in the applicable work period (Usually 40 hours).
Under the new rule, employers can satisfy up to 10% the annual payment threshold through bonuses, incentive payments, and commissions for exempt employees, but the other 90% of the threshold must be paid at a regular rate equal to $615.60 per week. The FLSA changes allow for the employer to make a final catch up payment within one pay period of the end of the year if the employee’s compensation has not reached the required level. If the employer chooses and properly prepares for this option, they are only required to pay their employees 90% of the required salary level ($615.60) per week. At the end of the year, the employees paid-out salary plus bonuses, incentive payments, and commissions do not equal at least $35,568.00 annually; the employer would have to make up the difference within one pay period. After this one pay period, the employer would be in violation of the FLSA regarding exempt employees if they have not paid at least $35,568.00 annually.
If you are an employer, it would be wise to review the status of your employees to determine whether your exempt employees are properly classified under the new rules. If your previously exempt employees were making less than $35,568.00, they will no longer be exempt, and you will be required to pay overtime at time and a half for every hour worked over 40 hours. Reevaluating your employees would also help determine whether reclassifying an employee is a financially wise decision. If the employee does not meet the threshold for exempt status and rarely works overtime, it might be a better decision to reclassify that employee as non-exempt instead of raising their salary by more than $10,000.00. On the other hand, if an employee who works regular overtime is close to the exempt salary threshold, it may be wise to increase their salary to save money on the overtime.
The FLSA is a complex system of laws regulating most employer/employee relationships. If you are unfamiliar with the FLSA and what impacts it may have on your business, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer. The Orlando Law Group, PL is ready to help with all of your employment needs.
By Attorney Sophia Dean
The Student Debt Crisis in Numbers
There are various reasons which prevent people from being able to make their student loan payments. As of 2019, Americans collectively owe over $1.56 Trillion in student loan debt. This is spread out by nearly 45 million individuals who are paying back their student loans.
Out of this increasingly large group, there are, of course, individuals who will find themselves in circumstances which will prevent them from making their payments. These people are not alone. In fact, there are roughly 3.7 million student loans in deferment and 2.6 million in forbearance. The good news is that there are deferment and forbearance options which can alleviate some of this stress and allow you to get back on stable ground.
What to Know About Deferments and Forbearances
While there are several options for individuals who are experiencing difficulty paying back their student loans, like income-based repayment, we commonly see deferments and forbearances. On the surface, these options may seem similar, but they actually have several differences which can make them more or less suitable for certain situations. Both allow you to temporarily stop making federal student loan payments or temporarily reduce the amount you pay.
A key reason to look into these options is to help to avoid defaulting on your loans, which can cause significant consequences.
Based on the type of loan you took out, your interest may accrue during this time. Because this will add to the total cost of the loan, it is important to be clear about these details. It is also important to make sure that you have completed the steps necessary to attain an active deferment or forbearance so you don’t miss payments and negatively affect your credit score.
The important question is, Which choice is right for you?
What are the Differences Between Deferments and Forbearances?
The most important thing to know about deferments and forbearances is that they are not one and the same.
A Deferment can be an excellent solution for people experiencing certain circumstances. On particular loans, you may not be responsible for paying the interest that accrues during this period.
Your lender or loan servicer may offer different deferment options based on your particular situation. For example, federal loans have the following deferment options:
● Economic Hardship Deferment
● Graduate Fellowship Deferment
● In-School Deferment
● Military Service and Post-Active Duty Student Deferment
● Parent PLUS Borrower Deferment
● Rehabilitation Training Deferment
● Temporary Total Disability Deferment
● Unemployment Deferment
A Forbearance is a period during which your monthly loan payments are temporarily suspended or reduced. If your particular situation includes financial hardship that prevents you from making loan payments even though you are willing, your lender may grant you a forbearance. During this period of time, the principal payments are postponed. The one caveat is that interest continues to accrue.
You could potentially qualify for a forbearance if you are temporarily unable to make scheduled monthly payments for the reasons listed below:
● Financial difficulties
● Medical expenses
● Change in employment
● Other reasons acceptable to your loan servicer
Because the loans continue to accrue interest during the forbearance term, it is smart to continue paying at least the monthly interest. This method is helpful as it resolves any delinquency on the account.
There are also two different kinds of forbearance—General and Mandatory.
Also known as a “discretionary forbearance”, a general forbearance can be requested due to financial difficulties, medical expenses, change in employment, and/or other reasons acceptable to your loan servicer. It is at the discretion of the loan servicer whether to honor this request or not, hence the name. These can be granted for periods of no longer than 12 months but can be requested again when this time expires.
Mandatory forbearances MUST be honored by loan servicers as long as the individual meets the eligibility criteria. There are more options for eligibility for mandatory forbearances and each one has more specific qualifications and stipulations attached, but the major requirements are;
● If you are serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program
● If you are participating in a teaching service which would qualify you for teacher loan forgiveness
● If the amount owed on your student loan is equal to or greater than 20% of your total monthly income
● If you qualify for partial repayment of your loans under the Department of Defense Student Loan Forgiveness program
● If you are a recently activated member of the national guard but are not eligible for military deferment
As with discretionary forbearances, a mandatory forbearance is granted for a maximum of 12 months. However, this may be extended as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.
Postpone or Reduce Student Loan Payments Next Steps–How to Seek Out a Deferment or Forbearance
Both deferments and forbearances are excellent options for people struggling to pay their student loans due to temporary financial hardships. However, if your financial woes are likely to continue for an extended period of time, it may be a better option to change to an income-driven repayment plan. These are based on your discretionary income, size of your family and multiple other factors. If your loan is not repaid after 20-25 years, you may also qualify for student loan forgiveness as well.
If your circumstances are likely to improve within a reasonable amount of time, it would be a good idea to consider a deferment or forbearance. It is important to remember that your loan servicer does not work for you. The best course of action is to use an outside source such as a well-versed attorney with expertise the variety of student loan options. They will assist you in deciding if a deferment or forbearance is the most applicable in your individual case. Having someone to trust can drastically help reduce the stress and worry associated with dealing with student loan debt.
For the past ten years, The Orlando Law Group has earned a reputation as the Orlando-area law firm that cares about its clients and the communities it serves. Offices located in Waterford Lakes, Altamonte, Lake Nona, and Winter Garden. For more information, visit www.TheOrlandoLawGroup.com.
The Orlando Law Group Welcomes Another Excellent Attorney
Orlando, FL (September 6, 2019) – The Orlando Law Group is proud to announce the addition of attorney M. Florence King to the firm. King brings a plethora of leadership, along with 15 years of experience working predominantly within the community association industry.
A graduate of Ave Maria School of Law in 2005, Ms. King spent the early years of her career working for Park Square Enterprises, gaining experience in title closings and land acquisition. After the Great Recession of 2008, she took an opportunity with Larsen & Associates, P.L., a small, local community association law firm in need of managing their unplanned growth in association collection matters. King, who’s unique background also includes accounting and computer programming, helped innovate and automate several processes, leading that firm towards becoming a top performing association law firm in Central Florida.
King was drawn to The Orlando Law Group’s dedication and commitment to the people and communities they serve. She believes these principles and values should serve as the backbone of doing community association law with a renewed dedication to the homeowners within those associations.
“Community association legal representation oftentimes brings an adversarial atmosphere to communities,” said King. “I think it can be done better. I think the real win is in fostering a mutual bond amongst the homeowners within the community where everyone properly understands the benefits of abiding by the rules and regulations, and how abiding by those rules and regulations helps create a powerful, common vision for the community where property values increase, community harmony is enhanced, and homeowners can obtain a genuine sense of pride for the place they call home.”
While King’s experience will enhance the firm’s community association representation, she is looking forward to diversifying her legal practice. “I’m passionate about serving people,” said King. “I’m thrilled to be given an opportunity to work with a firm that is founded on that same value, and I’m looking forward to utilizing my education and experience to enhance the lives of others through the practice of law.”
For the past ten years, The Orlando Law Group has earned a reputation as the Orlando-area law firm that cares about its clients and the communities it serves. Offices located in Waterford Lakes, Altamonte, Lake Nona, and Winter Garden. For more information, visit www.TheOrlandoLawGroup.com.
A reverse mortgage is a loan available to homeowners age 62 years or older, that allows a homeowner to borrow against the equity they have in their house in the form of a lump sum, fixed monthly payment, or line of credit.
Unlike a typical mortgage, with a reverse mortgage, the bank pays the owner of the house monthly mortgage payments, and when the owner of the house dies or sells the home, the entire reverse mortgage balance becomes due and payable.
As long as the borrower is 62 or older and lives in the home, he or she is not required to make any monthly payments towards the loan balance. The concept of the reverse mortgage came about as a way to help retirees with limited income use the equity they have built up in their house without having to sell the property.
With these types of mortgages, the owner of the property is responsible for the property taxes and homeowners insurance premium, utilities, fuel, maintenance, and other home-related expenses. If only one spouse signed the loan paperwork, in certain situations, your spouse may continue to live in the home even after you die if he or she continues paying the above-noted bills and maintains the property. However, since they were not a part of the loan, all payments under the reverse mortgage will cease.
Most reverse mortgages have a “non-recourse” clause which means that the value of the reverse mortgage cannot exceed the value of the home when the loan becomes due. This is beneficial upon the death of the homeowner because there will not be any bills related to the reverse mortgage outside of the equity in the house.
No other assets in the Estate of the deceased are affected. There are three different types of reverse mortgages. As with any type of transaction, it is important to shop around before locking yourself into a long term loan.
Single-Purpose Reverse Mortgage
Homeowners can use single-purpose reverse mortgage proceeds only to pay for specific items that are approved by the lender. This single-purpose may be for necessary repair and maintenance, or payment of property taxes. The lender on this type of file is a state, local, or non-profit agencies, and is considered the least expensive type of reverse mortgage. This option is beneficial to many people because it offers fewer expenses and fees than other types of reverse mortgages.
Home Equity Conversion Mortgage
This type of mortgage is likely to be more expensive and is the most widely used version of the reverse mortgage. This is because there are not any income requirements, and the proceeds from the loan can be used for any purpose. This loan does not carry the same single-purpose limit detailed above.
Counseling is typically required before applying for this loan due to the higher expenses, interest rates, and payback requirements of this loan. Because this is a federally insured mortgage, there are usually high up-front or monthly ongoing insurance payments. These payments are usually taken out of the loan itself, and actually reduces the amount you are able to borrow.
Proprietary Reverse Mortgages
A proprietary reverse mortgage is not available to the average homeowner. As of 2018, in order to qualify for this type of reverse mortgage, your home must have a value of $679,650.00. This is not a federally insured mortgage and often has less stringent insurance requirements.
If you are considering this type of loan, you should also apply for the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. This way you can compare fees to find out which loan fits better for your situation.
Wrapping it up
Using this type of mortgage can eat up the equity in your home, meaning there is less value to your estate that is left for your heirs. If your goal is to leave the house for your heirs to live in, a reverse mortgage may not be the right type of loan for you. If you would like to discuss how a reverse mortgage may benefit your situation, please contact give The Orlando Law Group, P.L. a call.
In today’s age, people of all ages are very active online- whether it be connecting with family and friends, sharing what they are doing and where they are doing it, sharing photos and videos from their mobile device, or building online profiles which describe who they are. While the internet has made it easy to share this information, doing so comes with certain risks, especially for kids. Here we discuss those risks and how can you discuss them with your child(ren).
Talking To Your Kids About Staying Safe Online
The best way to protect your kids online is to talk to them about it. As soon as your child starts using a phone, mobile device, or computer, you should begin the conversation of online safety. As parents, you should initiate the conversation. You can use everyday opportunities to initiate the conversation. For example, news stories about cyberbullying or texting while driving can spark a conversation about their online experiences and your expectations.
When communicating your expectations, be specific about what’s off-limits, and what you consider to be unacceptable behavior. During these conversations, it is important to be patient and supportive. Resist the urge to rush through having the conversation; most children need to hear things more than once before it sinks in so you should have a short conversation about this more than once. Work to keep the lines of communication open. Listening and taking their feelings into account will help keep the conversations productive.
Parents or guardians should consider the unique ways to speak to kids and teens
There is no question that as children get older you have to communicate with them differently. Learning how to talk about online safety through the years is important to make an effective impact on your child’s online behavior and safety. For young kids, supervision and parental controls are the best ways to monitor their online activity. Some features available are filtering and blocking, browsers for kids, and disabling in-app purchases from your device.
As young kids get older and turn into tweens, they like to feel independent. They also may be at the age where they are tech-savvy enough to get around the parental controls that once worked. An alternative action you can take at this stage is setting time limits on use. When children turn into teens, they begin to form their own opinions and take on the value of their peers. The most valuable thing you can do is talk about credibility, manners, and expectations.
Addressing kids and social networking
Kids share a lot online from pictures, videos, whereabouts, thoughts, and plans with their friends, family, and sometimes strangers too. Some downfalls with online socializing are oversharing too much information, or posting pictures, videos, or words that can damage a reputation or hurt someone’s feelings. So, what can you do to keep your kids safe? Remind your kids that online actions have consequences. The things they share could be seen in the future by colleges and other people who can influence their future.
Cyberbullying is bullying or harassment that happens online. Help prevent cyberbullying by talking to your kids about bullying. Let them know that they can’t hide behind the words they type or images they post or send to others. Recognize the signs of cyberbullying – it often is in the form of mean-spirited comments, and if you do see this, make sure they know to say something.
Using Mobile Devices
It is each parent’s responsibility to decide when is the right age for their child(ren) to have a phone or mobile device. Whenever that time may come, it’s important to know the various ways that you can keep them safest with it. Most wireless companies have settings that allow parents to turn off features like web access, texting, or downloading/in-app purchases. Many smartphones today also have GPS location on them – this technology can be beneficial for you as a parent, but it also allows for their friends and possibly strangers to know their whereabouts.
If your child’s mobile device is a smartphone, there are hundreds of apps that are available to them. You should know that there is a chance that apps might collect and share personal information, let your kids spend real money (even if the app is free), and link to social media, all without you being aware. To avoid these possible negative effects of apps, you should read the description, content rating, and user reviews, and check what information the app collects before downloading. Most apps also allow you to restrict content, set passwords, and turn off Wi-Fi so it can’t connect to the internet.
When it comes to texting, encourage manners. Texting shorthand can lead to misunderstandings, so it’s important kids think about how someone else may interpret the message. You should also remind your kids to ignore texts from people they do not know and when it comes to sexting, do not do it! Aside from risking their reputation and friendships, they could be breaking the law if they create, forward, or even save this kind of message.
Making Computer and Internet Security A Habit
The security of your computer affects your user experience, and also that of your kids. Certain types of software can install viruses on your computer, send unwanted ads, and monitor your computer use. To avoid these problems, use security software and keep it updated, keep your operating system, web browser, and apps up to date, and allow the use of multi-factor authentication.
You should let your children also know that it is important to create strong passwords and keep them private, not to provide personal of financial information unless the website is secure, and watch out for “free” stuff. An important tip to teach your kids: If the URL does not start with “https,” don’t enter any secure information – the “s” means that your information is encrypted.
This month we celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Orlando Law Group.
On August 8, 2009, I took a leap of faith that the Central Florida region would benefit from a law firm that puts people first and cares deeply about the community. We knew our clients wanted a firm staffed with attorneys who precisely focus on all areas of law.
Back then, I had a small office with two lawyers and no support staff. When I started up, the firm was agile, focused on growth and service, and I knew that what we had to offer could dramatically change many of our clients’ lives for the better.
Now, a decade later, I’ve seen a lot of change and have learned quite a bit along the way. As I reflect, there are five things I have learned that stand out.
- The law is continually evolving. Like many industries, the legal world is subject to change and improvement over time. New laws are created, and we are responsible for understanding the fine details on how they affect our clients. Sometimes these laws are only small changes to existing laws and other times entirely new laws are put into place, like the current bill filed with the state of Florida to decriminalize marijuana. What makes us successful is our ability to learn these new laws and understand how they apply to current and future clients.
- Our clients’ needs have become more complex. The practice of law is exciting in that there are so many different legal areas. Over the past ten years, it’s become clear that it is impossible to draw definitive boundaries around each practice. So many times we have to take into account several areas of law when we work with a client. Family Law, for example, can stretch into business law and estate planning quite easily. As a firm, my team’s ability to be nimble and creative is a tremendous asset. We are able to look at the big picture for a client and provide them with a complete solution, even when their needs span multiple areas of law.
- A dedication to the community is critical. If any new business owner were to ask me for advice on how to be successful, I’d tell them that being an active member of the community is very important — the communities in which we serve benefit in countless ways when business get involved. As business owners, we have the experience to think critically about solving problems, we can assemble teams to accomplish great things, and we can inspire others to do the same. From the beginning, The Orlando Law Group has made community involvement and service a hallmark of how our firm operates.
- Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people. There’s a saying that suggests that you are influenced more by the people you surround yourself with than by any other source. I believe it. From the beginning, I’ve always found that when I work, socialize, and volunteer with people who have a positive and uplifting attitude, we accomplish more, and every outcome is rewarding. I encourage everyone to seek out the positive people in their lives and simply spend time with them. Their spirit is contagious and can affect you in profound ways.
- Set big goals and work tirelessly towards them. After a decade, my firm has grown to five offices with two dozen employees. My goals are substantial, and they get bigger all the time. When you set big goals and make a strategic plan to achieve those goals, amazing things happen. I truly love what I do. It’s my purpose in life, and that is why I work so hard to help as many people as possible. It’s not about how many offices we have or how many employees come to work every day. What matters most is that we have a positive impact on the lives of our clients.
I am fiercely proud to be celebrating our 10th anniversary today. In some ways, it feels like just a few moments have past and in others a lifetime. I do know this; we continue to be agile and aggressive. We continue to work with endless dedication to our clients. And while we celebrate ten years of serving our clients and our community, we are now focused on the next ten. 2029, here we come.
In Florida, courts adhere to public policy when shaping a time-sharing schedule. This policy states that each minor child should have frequent and continuing contact with both parents during a separation and after a marriage is dissolved. The court adheres to the notion that parental responsibility is shared by both parents unless the court finds that it would be detrimental to the child.
It is important to note that divorce often results in a rollercoaster of emotions and situations may arise that lead to conflict between parents. If such distress leads one parent to begin restricting or altering the time-sharing of the other, Florida Statute 61.13(4)(c) states that the Court may:
1. Reimburse the denied-parent, as soon as possible, for the time-sharing missed. This is done at the convenience of the denied-parent and at the expense of the noncompliant parent; or
2. Order the noncompliant parent to pay reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees to the denied parent for the expenses incurred from bringing an action to enforce the time-sharing schedule; or
3. Order the noncompliant parent to attend a parenting course; or
4. Order the noncompliant parent to perform community service; or
5. Order the noncompliant parent to have the financial burden of promoting continuous contact, if the child resides more than 60 miles away from the compliant parent; or
6. Modify the parenting plan if it is in the best interest of the child; or
7. Impose any other reasonable sanction as a result of the parent’s noncompliance.
In addition to the possibilities listed above, if a parent refuses to honor the time-sharing schedule, they may be punished by contempt of court or another remedy that the is deemed appropriate. A contempt order may be criminal or civil. The determination of which type of contempt applies depends on the action of the party. Criminal contempt is often used to punish a party whose conduct rises to the level of embarrassing, hindering, or obstructing the administration of justice. Civil contempt is often used to persuade a party to comply with a court order after they have already failed to abide by it. To avoid being held in contempt, the parties must follow the time-sharing schedule set out by the court or properly modify it.
HOW DO YOU PROPERLY MODIFY A TIME-SHARING SCHEDULE?
Florida Statute 61.13 states that in order to modify a time-sharing schedule, a two-prong standard must be satisfied: (1) that there be a showing of substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances; and (2) a determination that the modification is in “the best interests of the child.” In order to allow for a modification of the time-sharing schedule, the change in circumstances must be significant and involuntary. Additionally, as discussed in previous blogs regarding time-sharing, the “best interest of the child” is the primary standard that the court adheres to when constructing a time-sharing schedule for a minor child and his/her parents. There are numerous factors that must be considered when determining what is best for the child, some of which are:
· The ability of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent;
· The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment; and
· The moral fitness of the parents;
Therefore, if a party meets its burden of proving that there is a substantial change in circumstances and the modification is in the best interest of the child, the court may allow for the time-sharing schedule to be altered.
It is important to remember that the focus of both parents must remain on the well-being of the minor child/children, particularly in developing a safe and healthy environment for them. Additionally, if a time-sharing schedule is modified, then child-support payments may need to be adjusted as well. If you are planning on obtaining a divorce or modifying a time-sharing schedule, it is imperative that you understand the process, as well as the rules that the court must adhere to.
The attorneys at The Orlando Law Group are equipped with the knowledge and experience to assist you with such a process. Call 407.512.4394 to schedule a consultation today.
Divorce can be an overwhelming process, especially if a parent doesn’t understand the reasoning and methodology behind the court’s decisions. One decision that many people must deal with is the courts’ decision on the custody arrangement.
When the amount of time you spend with your child is at issue, it often helps to understand the rules that the court must abide by when constructing a time-sharing schedule. In Florida, courts adhere to Florida Statute 61.13, which may be a little overwhelming to read at first glance. This is why the professionals who focus on family law with The Orlando Law Group are here to help.
Florida Statute 61.046(23) defines time-sharing as a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that specifies the amount of time that a minor child will spend with each parent, which includes overnights and holidays. A time-sharing schedule can either be 1) developed and agreed upon by the parents, then approved by the court; or 2) established by the court, if the parents can’t agree or if the time-sharing schedule they have already developed is not approved.
61.13 (2)(c) further states that the court must make a decision regarding a minor child’s time-sharing based on the best interest of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This means that the court takes into account all factors that affect the welfare and interest of the minor child, as well as the circumstances of the family. For example, some of the factors that the court looks to when determining the best interest of the child are:
a. The capacity of each parent to encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required;
b. The ability of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent;
c. The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment;
d. The moral fitness of the parents;
e. The mental and physical health of the parents;
f. The home, school, and community record of the child;
g. The reasonable preference of the child;
h. The knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of circumstances that involve the child;
i. The ability of each parent to provide a routine for the child, such as discipline and daily schedules for homework, dinner, or bedtime;
j. The capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities involving the child;
k. Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;
l. Evidence that either parent knowingly provided false information to the court regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;
m. The ability of each parent to participate and be involved with the child’s school and extracurricular activities;
n. The ability of each parent to maintain an environment free from substance abuse;
o. The ability of each parent to protect the child from ongoing litigation, which includes: no talking about the litigation, no sharing documents with the child, and refraining from speaking badly about the other parent;
p. And any other factor that is relevant to the determination of time-sharing.
In addition to the best interest of the child, the court makes its decision in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or otherwise known as the “UCCJEA”. The purpose of the UCCJEA is to avoid competition and conflict between courts of another state, where matters of custody may have been previously handled.
The UCCJEA Affidavit requires the parent to fill out the child’s name, place of birth, birth date, sex, present address, the period of residence, and places where the child has lived within the past 5 years. It also requires the name, present address, and the relationship to the child for each person with whom the child has lived during that 5-year period.
Statute 61.13 further states that it is the public policy of the state that each minor has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or after the marriage is officially dissolved. It encourages both parents to share the rights and responsibilities that come with raising their child. It also emphasizes that there is no presumption against the father or mother of the child regarding their time-sharing, which essentially means that there is no predetermination made by the court regarding which parent the child will spend more time with. After the court weighs all of the factors outlined above, it will make its determination based on whatever time-sharing schedule is best suited for the child’s individual needs.
If you are currently struggling with determining a suitable time-sharing schedule in a divorce child custody situation, finding an attorney who can effectively help you during its construction is vital. The attorneys at The Orlando Law Group are ready, willing, and able to assist you with such a process. We have countless hours of experience in family court helping our clients navigate divorce cases and understand the type of custody that has been arranged.
Call 407.512.4394 to schedule a consultation today.
Regarding the Florida Medical Marijuana Law, what defines “marijuana?”
“Marijuana” means all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin, including low-THC cannabis which are dispensed from a medical marijuana treatment center for medical use by a qualified patient.” Florida Statute § 381.986
The vote for the use of medical cannabis in Florida.
In 2016 Florida citizens voted for a constitutional amendment permitting individuals to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. The bill passed with tremendous support garnering 72% of the votes, in the state known for its narrow margins and hotly contested elections.
While Medical Marijuana may have passed in Florida, Federal Law, as well as Florida law, does not prevent Florida employers from punishing employees for failing a drug test. Despite its landslide victory, the herbal medicine still faces controversy and must overcome ambiguity before it can be used freely by the constituents who voted for it.
Florida Statute §381.986, in great detail, covers the use and restrictions of Medical Marijuana in Florida. This statute reads, in part:
(1) (j) “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of marijuana authorized by a physician certification. The term does not include use or administration of marijuana in the following locations:
a. On any form of public transportation, except for low-THC cannabis.
b. In any public place, except for low-THC cannabis.
c. In a qualified patient’s place of employment, except when permitted by his or her employer. d. In a state correctional institution, as defined in s. 944.02, or a correctional institution, as defined in s. 944.241.
e. On the grounds of a preschool, primary school, or secondary school, except as provided in s.1006.062.
f. In a school bus, a vehicle, an aircraft, or a motorboat, except for low-THC cannabis.
(15) APPLICABILITY.—This section does not limit the ability of an employer to establish, continue, or enforce a drug-free workplace program or policy. This section does not require an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace or any employee working while under the influence of marijuana. This section does not create a cause of action against an employer for wrongful discharge or discrimination.
Florida employers are not required to accommodate.
The excerpt above sparked major controversy and was unbeknown to most voters until after the law went into effect. Although the usage of Medical Marijuana is legal for those people who qualify, the law is clear that an employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s medical use of marijuana. This differs from other laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Family Medical Leave Act, where the federal government has mandated that employers follow certain protocols when dealing with these classes of people.
Florida employers do not have to accommodate to the fact that you are legally allowed to use marijuana, nor are they required to allow you to use marijuana at their business location. An employer can terminate an employee for the use of legal medical marijuana, and this termination does not create a basis for legal action for wrongful termination.
Marijuana can stay in a person’s system for up to multiple weeks, ensuring that employees subjected to drug test must refrain from the substance for indefinite amounts of time. A person with a marijuana card, depending on the rules of their employer, would not even be able to administer the medicine (smoking medical marijuana, for example) outside of work because they would run the risk of failing a drug test.
Incentives for employers
Under the laws as they currently stand, Florida actually provides incentives for employers NOT TO allow the usage of medical marijuana in their workplaces. In 1990 the Florida Legislature enacted a State law titled “Florida Drug-Free Workplace” F.S 112.0455. This law provided specific requirements which an employer must comply with to be certified as a Florida Drug-Free Workplace. The law also provided incentives and benefits for employers who are certified as a Florida Drug-Free Workplace. The State of Florida, through this law, encourages employers to drug test employees and promotes a Drug-Free Workplace environment. In Florida, companies get reduced rates on various insurances if they implement drug-free workplace policies.
Could the Florida medical cannabis pave the way for recreational use of weed?
Florida is also slowly moving toward recreational marijuana, with at least one bill being proposed in 2019 before dying in committee. Proponents of recreational marijuana are citing states like Colorado who have generated billions since approving of recreational use. Florida is already a tourist destination and could easily capitalize on the recreational marijuana industry. With the passage of medical marijuana and the lag time in the laws of Florida to catch up with these medical innovations, it makes you wonder whether recreational marijuana will be vertically integrated and structured the same way. The “drug” may become legal for recreational use, but under Florida Law, you could still be terminated from your place of employment.
There have been no successful legal challenges in Florida regarding medicinal marijuana in the workplace. Of course, this amendment is relatively new and the possibility remains that the courts could decide in favor of employees – especially as the opioid epidemic worsens and more and more states are looking to medical marijuana as a better alternative to chronic pain relief. Until that time, the statute is clear that marijuana use, medical or otherwise, is not permitted under the Florida Drug-Free Workplace rules.
Texting and driving can be a dangerous combination. In a 2014 report, the US Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied data from 2012. The data revealed that distracted driving was associated with 3300 deaths and 421,000 injuries in collisions in the US; much of the evidence in these cases suggests that smartphone use continues to be a substantial contributor to these incidences.
Further, AAA recently conducted a study that revealed 78% of Americans suggest that texting while driving is a “significant danger.” The study also cited that 35% of the respondents admitted to texting while driving.
Starting July 1, 2019, texting while driving has been defined as a primary offense in the state of Florida. Many people don’t realize that texting and driving was illegal before the July change. The difference is that previously, a law enforcement officer had to witness you violating another law to be able to pull you over for texting while driving.
In early 2019, the Florida government voted to change that.
With the July 1 change and texting while driving becoming a primary offense, authorities can pull you over if they see you typing on your phone or other hand-held devices.
Here are some of the top questions we have been asked about the new law.
Someone told me that if I am stopped for texting while driving, a police officer can ask to see my phone to verify that I was texting. Is this true?
This is actually true; officers are allowed to ask to see the phone of the driver who was pulled over for texting while driving, with one caveat. While the responding officer can ask to see your phone, they must tell you that you have the right to decline the request.
The original law making texting and driving a secondary offense started in 2013. Since then, officers have received training to be able to identify drivers who are texting. If you are stopped, it is because an officer believes you were texting while driving based on your behaviors.
How do things change after July 1?
Florida statute 316.305 — which is known as the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law, officially changes the law against using a mobile phone or hand-held device from a secondary offense to a primary offense. Beginning on July 1, law enforcement officers can pull over drivers for using a wireless device while operating a vehicle.
And there’s more. There’s also a part of the law about school zones and construction sites with active workers. This part of the law states that starting October 1, 2019, phones or hand-held devices can only be used in a “hands-free” manner while in use in a school zone, school crossing area, or construction area with active workers.
What happens if I get pulled over for texting while driving after July 1, 2019?
The answer to this question is “it depends.” Depending on the law enforcement agency that has stopped you, the outcome might vary.
The Florida Highway Patrol has released a statement suggesting that they will be issuing warnings until January 1, 2020. They are considering the time between now and then to be an “educational period.” Meanwhile, in Volusia and Orange Counties, the Sheriff’s Offices have stated that will begin ticketing offenders immediately.
Our suggestion is to simply obey the law, regardless of where you happen to be driving.
Can I still text while stopped at a red light?
The law does not specifically state that you cannot check your phone while parked on the side of the road or at a red light; it is not advised. Ultimately, when you are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, your attention should be on your surroundings and making sure you and those around you are safe.
Can I be exempt from the texting while driving law?
There are a few instances where you might be exempt from this law. These include if you are reporting an emergency or criminal activity to law enforcement, if you are operating an autonomous vehicle in autonomous mode, or if you are receiving messages that are related to the operation or navigation of the vehicle. You could also be exempt if you are using the device for system or navigation purposes.
These are certainly not “get out of jail free” cards, so be smart with how you use technology and put safety first always.
Under the new law, can I legally press a button on my phone to answer a call?
Outside of a school or work zone, according to the law, you are allowed to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function on your phone, as long as it doesn’t require multiple key presses.
In a school or work zone, the law suggests that you can use only hands-free features to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function on the phone. So, using Siri on an iPhone or “Ok Google” on an Andriod phone is permitted.
Focus on Driving Campaign
While there are groups who worked to prevent this law, it’s essential to consider that the spirit of the law is to keep people safe. These include the driver, the car’s occupants, other drivers, and pedestrians.
The State has created a “Put It Down” campaign to bring awareness to the new law. You can follow hashtags #PutItDown and #FocusOnDrivingFL for more information.
By Attorney Jarrod Etheridge
The Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) has published the final version of Rule 61J2-10.026, which governs group or team advertising. This new FREC Team Advertising Rules impact office procedures and team advertising.
New FREC Team Advertising Rules go into effect July 1, 2019
Effective July 1, 2019, this rule is set to create some serious changes in the real estate industry. The reasoning behind the rule is that FREC was receiving complaints from the general public who were often being confused or misled as to who, or what they were dealing with during a real estate deal.
Group/Team names were often being mistaken to be the name of the real estate brokerage, and clients were often unable to determine whether they were dealing with an agent, a broker or brokerage. Under Florida law, only a broker is allowed to use a fictitious name. For example, Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, Tavistock, etc. A sales or broker associate operating under a Florida entity is required to name the entity after themselves. By creating team names including certain words, FREC believes realtors are crossing this line.
What are some of the words no longer allowed in real estate team names?
Under the new rule, FREC has released an extensive non-exhaustive list of words that are no longer allowed to be included in team names. Whereas realtor teams are allowed to use the words “team” or “group,” almost every real estate team in existence uses one of the now prohibited words: (a) Agency (b) Associates (c) Brokerage (d) Brokers (e) Company (f) Corporation (g) Corp. (h) Inc. (i) LLC (j) LP, LLP or Partnership (k) Properties (l) Property (m) Real Estate (n) Realty (o) Or similar words suggesting the team or group is a separate real estate brokerage or company.
If your team name still meets the above, you are not out of the woods yet. The new rule also provides that on any advertisements containing the team name of any form, registered brokers must maintain a design where “the name of the team shall not appear in larger print than the name or logo of the registered brokerage.
All advertisements must be designed in a manner in which reasonable persons would know they are dealing with a team or group.” Check your business cards, website, mailers, etc., if your team or group advertising contains a name that is in a bigger font than the name OR logo of your brokerage, you are out of compliance with the new rules.
This is certainly a good time to be in the business of promotional items because almost every real estate agent in Orlando is going to be scrambling to get new business cards and other promotional items.
Do the new FREC Team Advertising Rules affect teams made up of agents from multiple brokerages?
For those very few teams whose names are still valid, the rule also adds a component requiring all real estate teams to be comprised of members of the same brokerage or under the supervision of the same broker. FREC is no longer going to allow agents from multiple brokerages to act under a single team.
What to do right now…
The Orlando Law Group is here to help if you need someone to review your current advertising schemes to make sure you are in compliance with the new rules. Judging by the drastic changes pushed forward with this rule, we do not recommend continuing to use any advertisements that are out of compliance starting July 1, 2019.
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940 Centre Circle
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
9161 Narcoossee Road
Orlando, FL 32827
Phone: (407) 512-4394
12301 Lake Underhill Road
Orlando, FL 32828
Phone: (407) 512-4394
12200 West Colonial Drive
Winter Garden, FL 34787
Phone: (407) 955-4848
Law Practice Areas
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