What Is A Florida Land Trust?

trees land trust

A Florida land trust is a device by which Florida real estate is conveyed to a trustee under an arrangement that gives full management and control of the property to its beneficiaries.

The trustee can execute deeds, mortgages or other deals related to the property at the written direction of the beneficiaries, while the beneficiaries can collect rent, improve, and operate the property without holding legal title. The beneficiary of a trust can be you, a corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), a partnership or any other legal entity and there can be one or more beneficiaries.

If you are the beneficiary of the trust, you can name any other person or entity as the successor beneficiary upon your death. If your company is the beneficiary, you can name a successor in the company papers. In addition to having beneficiaries, you can designate a director to makes all the decisions regarding the property.

Two instruments create the land trust arrangement. A publicly recorded “deed in trust” which conveys the property to the trustee, the beneficiaries are not named in this instrument, and a contemporaneously executed “trust agreement” that is usually signed by everyone and spells out the trustee’s duties.

What are the benefits of a Florida land trust?

Increased Privacy - One of the main benefits of a land trust is the privacy it provides its beneficiaries.

As long as the trustee is not also the beneficiary, the beneficiaries can remain anonymous, absent a court order. In order to keep land trust information confidential, the only reporting that is required is with the Internal Revenue Service.

Land trust agreements are not recorded publicly so no one has to know what real estate you own, while you are alive or after your death. Tax bills are sent to the trustee, who then forwards them to you for payment, and the returns are filed like you would a property in your own name.

Reduced Reporting Costs - A land trust is not burdened with the added expense of governmental reporting or its associated cost.

Probate Avoidance - The trust agreement can specify successor beneficiaries in the event of your death, thereby avoiding probate, attorney fees, and delays in the distribution of the property to your heirs.
Non-Florida residents can avoid probate administration by transferring real estate into a trust. Probate avoidance is one reason many non-residents establish Florida land trusts.

Retained Tax Advantages – All the tax advantages of individual ownership are retained.

Deductions for taxes, depreciation, and other expenses flow directly through the land trust to the beneficiaries and placing land into a trust does not disturb the beneficiary’s homestead qualification.
Transferring a home that is encumbered by a mortgage to a Florida land trust will not trigger the “due on sale” clause contained in most mortgages.

Simplifies Co-Ownership - In cases where there are multiple owners, a trust agreement can offer provisions for arbitration and alternative dispute-resolution venues can be clearly outlined in the trust agreement before a dispute ever arises.

Additionally, the trustee can be empowered to execute deeds on behalf of all of the beneficiaries, thus eliminating the need for multiple signatures of the beneficiaries on a deed of conveyance.

Ease of Conveyance - Beneficial interests can be easily transferred without publicly recording a deed, thereby saving money and preserving privacy.

Ease of Continuity - The death of the trustee or a beneficiary does not terminate the trust. Successor beneficiaries and successor trustees are appointed in advance.

Merger Doctrine Does Not Apply - A land trust will remain valid regardless of whether the trustee is the sole beneficiary of the trust.

Asset Protection - Beneficiaries of a land trust are not, by virtue of being beneficiaries, liable under a judgment, decree, court order or in any other debt, obligation or liability of the land trust and a judgment against one beneficiary will not attach to land held in the trust.

For many property owners, especially those who seek privacy, a land trust is a valuable alternative to traditional ownership. That said, many of the same benefits of land trusts are available through other legal entities such as LLCs and corporations.

If you think a Florida Land Trust might be right for you, contact Parker & Associates at 941-952-0600.

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What Is Probate?


Probate is the legal process by which a will is proven valid or not and, in the absence of a will, the process is required in order to transfer ownership of the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries.

The process can be lengthy and costly, typically requiring court appearances and lots of paperwork.

There are two main types of probate administration under Florida law: Formal administration and summary administration. In addition, there is a non-court supervised proceeding called "Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration", but it is only for limited circumstances.

Probate administration only applies to “probate assets” which are assets that are owned solely by the decedent at the time of their death or by the decedent and one or more co-owners without a provision for automatic succession of ownership. Probate assets include, but are not limited to, bank or investment accounts, life insurance policies, annuity contracts, IRAs, and real estate.

A well-crafted estate will increase the proportion of your estate that ultimately goes to your beneficiaries and decrease the amount of time they have to wait for their inheritance.

Some estate planning tools that will help you avoid probate include setting up a revocable living trust, which exempts your assets from probate. Establishing joint ownership of certain assets to exclude them from the probate process or gifting certain assets while you're still alive.

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Estate Planning Isn’t Just For The Rich

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You may not realize it, but you have an estate and “Estate Planning” isn’t just for the rich.

In fact, for families with relatively modest assets, good estate planning is crucial because they can afford to lose less of their wealth.

Your estate consists of everything you own - your car, your home, bank or investment accounts, life insurance or just some personal belongings. Estate planning allows you to determine who gets what and when, with as little as possible going towards taxes, legal fees, and court costs, but that’s not all it does…

In addition to a will, an estate planning attorney will work with you to create a health care proxy and durable power of attorney that communicates your wishes clearly, and they’ll guide you through the implications of each complex decision.

Federal and, in some cases, state taxes on estates, inheritances, and gifts can be among the highest. Minimizing the tax burden increases what you leave behind for your heirs.

Estate and gift taxes usually have exemption limits, this meaning you can only give up to a certain amount without being taxed. For this reason, many people use the gift tax exemption to start transferring assets while they are still alive.

Estate planning helps you organize your financial records, titles, and insurance policies so your heirs can find them if you become disabled or at the time of your death and it helps unearth any errors on titles or beneficiary designations that could lead to devastating tax consequences.

Death and disability don’t always give us fair warning so the time to get your affairs in order is now.

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Estate Planning For The Digital Era

It has become the norm to store financial records in smartphones, computers, or the cloud, and to conduct financial transactions electronically.

Most people also own a trove of digital assets, which can include anything from domain names and electronically stored photos and videos to email and social media accounts.

The average person has roughly $35,000 worth of assets stored on digital devices. That value includes purchased movies, books, music and games as well as personal memories, communications, personal records, hobbies and career information. Of those surveyed by the study, 55 percent said they store assets that would be impossible to recreate, re-download or repurchase.

Unfortunately, those assets are increasingly at risk of being lost when the account owner dies. Many digital accounts are subject to complicated terms of service agreements, which can often make it difficult or impossible for surviving loved ones to access them.

Additionally, state and federal laws could put friends and relatives who try to log on to your accounts at risk of violating anti-hacking and privacy statutes.

You may have planned for your loved ones to eventually inherit your house, the Steinway grand piano, your Dad's 88-year-old Swiss watch, or other family heirlooms, but with life increasingly being lived online, you may be overlooking an increasingly important kind of property: Digital assets.

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What Is The Difference Between A Short Sale And A Foreclosure

If financial hardship has made it impossible for you to remain in your home, you have two options - Short Sale or Foreclosure.

This summary will help you understand the consequences of these two processes.


A short sale is a transaction in which the lender has agreed to accept less money than they’re owed on the mortgage loan. If you need to sell your home, but you owe more than the home is worth, this may be a good option for you.

In order to qualify for a short sale, you must first provide your lender with:

  • Documented proof of financial hardshipRecent sale prices of comparable homes
  • The lender must then approve the short sale before you can list the home and each offer must be reviewed by the lender before you can accept it and close on the sale.

If you manage to avoid late mortgage payments, a short sale can reduce your credit score by as little as 50 points. Late payment, however, can result in drops of as much as 200 points.

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Sell my home now? Or wait until Spring?

Parker & Associates is located in beautiful, sunny, Florida so one may not think that real estate transactions slow down in the "winter" months. But they certainly do in states that have a colder winter.

As we all know, many people retire to Florida so there is a connection with the colder states. Lots of people who have retired and may want to downsize and move to Florida hold off, fearing that they will not be able to sell and find a new home.

What makes this a great time to sell a home is the lack of competition. Things are busier in Florida, but if you are moving to the sunshine state and selling in a colder climate, it is a great time to be on the market. People who are looking to buy a house now are more serious and have less to look at; therefore your house has a better chance of getting sold.

So if you're thinking of selling your home, winter may be the best time for you. If you wait until the spring, you'll be met with all the other homeowner's who waited to put it on the market, causing more competition for you. If you're looking for a home in the Sarasota area, Parker & Associates is more than happy to recommend a Realtor and handle your closing. Our office is always available for referrals and for any other legal needs you may have.

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Same-Sex Couples and Homeownership

January 6, 2015, Florida began recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions and issuing marriage licenses for same-sex marriages to be performed in the state of Florida. This new legal status for same-sex married couples allows for ownership of real property by the married couple as Tenants By The Entireties (TBTE).

There are both pros and cons to the newly legalized status. TBTE applies only to married couples. The TBTE status is automatic when the Grantees of a Deed are identified as a married couple, this gives each spouse overlapping 100% interests in their Homestead Property Tax Exemption, full exemption coverage (when one spouse gets Homestead Exemption), and rights of survivorship for the surviving spouse. The creation of a TBTE is not automatic as a result of the marriage. A new deed changing ownership type of a couple to a married couple has to be recorded in the Public Records. For instance, "A" Grantor to "A and B", Tenants By The Entireties.

Florida's law states married couples are only permitted one Homestead Exemption/permanent residency based on property tax exemption. Before January 6, 1015 same-sex couples married outside of Florida could maintain two permanent residences based on property tax exemptions because their legal status was not recognized in Florida. Now, same-sex married couples cannot claim more than one Florida Homestead Exemption and can't claim Florida Homestead Exemption if either individual is claiming a permanent residency based property tax anywhere in the world – the same as any married couple in the State of Florida. Since recognition of same-sex marriages took place after January 1, 2015, beginning with the 2016 tax year, same-sex married couples will be subject to a loss of their Florida Homestead Exemption, back assessment liens, penalties, and interest if they are found to be claiming a Florida Homestead Exemption and other permanent residency based exemption anywhere else.

We recommend the following article: http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/article.cfm?p=1&id=318057  for more insight into the pros and cons of same-sex homeownership. If you would like to change your deed wnership type, we would be more than happy to assist you through the process. At Parker & Associates, PA we are available via phone, email inquiry, or through our website for any same-sex marriage homeownership legal matters or any other of your legal needs.

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New Flood Maps for Sarasota County in 2016

The Federal Emergency Mandate Agency (FEMA) released preliminary flood maps for Sarasota County in December.

This began a public comment period (lasting 90 days) for the purpose of filing appeals and protests. Federal review will likely begin in May. It is expected that new maps will go into effect in the beginning of 2016 along with new flood insurance requirements. Manatee County's new maps went into effect on March 17, 2014.

For more information visit Sarasota County's resource page here: https://www.scgov.net/FloodMaps/Pages/default.aspx

View preliminary maps here: https://hazards.fema.gov/femaportal/prelimdownload/searchLoad.action

FEMA also has scheduled workshops on this matter, more information can be found on that here: https://www.scgov.net/FloodMaps/Documents/Open%20House%20Schedule.pdf

Parker & Associates is available to answer any questions you may have regarding new flood maps, to the best of our ability. Our office is here to assist you to make your real estate transactions and your other legal needs as smooth as possible. Call our office, email us, or go through our website to see what we can do for you!

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Mortgage Cancellation Relief Act

The Real Estate business is closely connected with the government, as all people who are well versed in Real Estate transactions know.

The hottest topic out there right now for Real Estate and for many struggling homeowners, is the Mortgage Cancellation Relief Act. According to research by RealtyTrac, approximately 122,000 short sales closed across the nation between the months of January and October of 2014. The average debt forgiveness was about $88,500. The average seller had a balance on their mortgage 1.5 times higher than the actual market value of the house. We all know that these aren’t the easiest of times to survive in.

On December 16, 2014, the Senate passed H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase prevention Act of 2014. The provision stops the IRS from taxing the debt that lenders forgive in short sales, foreclosures, or loan modifications for the 2014 tax year. Congress is anticipated to discuss a further extension for 2015, but nothing is certain, 2015 could be counted as taxable income if a mortgage debt was forgiven.

The Republican tax party leadership in the house leans towards big tax reforms, wanting to end temporary tax code benefits that need extensions. This will make it hard for the act to be extended. Therefore, all the homeowners who didn’t make the cutoff date of December 31, 2014 or are experiencing their hardship now and wanting to do a short sale on their property are nervous as to what the outcome of this debate might be. And we in the Real Estate game know short sales are ANYTHING but short in regards to time. The process takes time and review from the lenders, making the cutoff date virtually unobtainable for some.

At Parker and Associates, we are well versed in short sale matters and are up to date on all laws pertaining to Real Estate transactions of any kind. Give our office a call, inquire via email, or through our website if you have any Real Estate or any other legal needs.

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16 March 2019
Parker & Associates, P.A. Blog
A Florida land trust is a device by which Florida real estate is conveyed to a trustee under an arrangement that gives full management and control of the property to its beneficiaries.The trustee can execute deeds, mortgages or other deals related to...
15 March 2019
Parker & Associates, P.A. Blog
Probate is the legal process by which a will is proven valid or not and, in the absence of a will, the process is required in order to transfer ownership of the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries.The process can be lengthy and costly, typically r...
15 March 2019
Parker & Associates, P.A. Blog
You may not realize it, but you have an estate and “Estate Planning” isn’t just for the rich.In fact, for families with relatively modest assets, good estate planning is crucial because they can afford to lose less of their wealth.Your estate consist...
08 January 2019
Parker & Associates, P.A. Blog
It has become the norm to store financial records in smartphones, computers, or the cloud, and to conduct financial transactions electronically.Most people also own a trove of digital assets, which can include anything from domain names and electroni...

Contact Us

Parker & Associates, P.A.
1800 Second Street, Suite 700
Sarasota, FL 34236

PH: 941-952-0600
FAX: 941-952-0601

Email Contact

General Contact
Ted Parker
Kathy Morgan
Diana Balazs

Practice Areas

Real Estate Trust
Short Sale Negotiations
Corporate Law
Estate Planning
Landlord Tenant



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