In the April and May issues of FINE Magazine, our knowledgeable Naples estate planning lawyers at Wollman Gehrke & Associates, PA wrote two articles that shared valuable information on relevant estate planning topics. One article provided a helpful hurricane preparedness checklist. The other discussed how individuals could avoid the chain-of-title problems that occur when it's discovered right before closing of a property sale that a deceased person is the property's record owner. This is referred to as a "Deadly Deed." Below is an overview of the information provided in each of the articles.
Hurricane Preparedness Checklist—When major hurricanes strike, individuals can be forced to evacuate. This means that they will have to make quick decisions about what they can take with them, as well as how they will access their important documents. Planning ahead and having a checklist for when that day comes can help individuals in these situations from suffering more losses than they need to. Here are the five planning steps that Attorney Edward E. Wollman has suggested:
- Create a list of what you will have to do to secure your home.
- Create a list of your important financial papers and other important documents, make copies and keep them in one location.
- Create a list of the most important items that would want to take with you in the event of an evacuation, such as family photos and items of high personal value.
- Back up your computer on an external hard drive or another data storage device and have the device ready to take with you.
- Create a list of the actions that you will need to take in order to be physically prepared for a hurricane.
Avoiding the Deadly Deed—You can run into serious roadblocks in your real estate transaction if you find out too close to the closing date that the current property owner on record is someone who has passed away. In order to avoid the issues that occur from a "Deadly Deed," Attorney Wollman and Attorney Eric Solomon have laid out six steps that can help ensure that you have a smooth closing. They include the following:
- Search the Official Records in the county of the property's location to find out how the title to the property is vested (available through the Clerk of the Circuit Court).
- Conduct a preliminary title search around the time that you plan to list the property for sale.
- By using the Official Records, search for any unknown liens or judgments that can affect the title of the property.
- Make sure you are aware of any homestead issues, or basically any potential problems that could arise from rules and restrictions that affect the sale of homestead real property.
- Look at the name of the title and search for the word "Trust" or another entity name.
- Check whether the deed was actually signed correctly.
Our law firm has served the Southwest Florida area since 1989. The lawyers on our legal team have a wealth of knowledge that could potentially be used to your benefit. Don't hesitate to contact us for assistance with your estate planning needs!