Landlords, Tenants, and Lease Agreements

Lease AgreementLandlord and Tenant disputes are hardly rare in the legal system, and many times the issues are the result of a poorly drafted lease agreement in which the tenant or landlord did not know their rights and responsibilities.

Language in a lease agreement is of the utmost importance. One of the best examples of this is the word “bi-monthly.” The word means both twice a month and once every-other month; this is a big difference, and this ambiguity is completely unacceptable in a contract.

Tenants should be weary when entering into a lease agreement, especially for a commercial property where the result of negligence can be much more severe. Landlords should have attorneys who draw up the lease agreements, and the attorneys draft these documents to benefit their client. Many of the tenant’s rights and landlord’s responsibilities are purposely left out because some tenants will not correctly review the agreement. Having an attorney review the document will benefit you in the long run.

If you are thinking about signing a lease agreement or any other type of contract, contact a Florida Real Estate attorney to review the contract before you sign.

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Patents and the America Invents Act

Invention, patent raceOn March 16, 2013, the America Invents Act (AIA) will go into effect.

The main change in this act is that right to patent an invention will go from a “first to invent” rule to a “first to file” rule. This means that the first person who files for the patent will be entitled to receive it, rather than the first person to invent it. The hope is that this will phase out interference proceedings used to resolve disputes regarding who first invented a technology.

The other part of the patent process this act will affect is referred to as prior art. Prior art is any information about the invention disclosed to the public prior to the application date. The rule under the AIA is that a person shall be entitled to a patent unless:

  1. The claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; or
  2. The claimed invention was described in a patent issued under Section 151 or in an application for patent published or deemed published under Section 122(b) in which the patent or application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was effectively filed before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.

Unlike some stricter first-to-file systems, the AIA will continue to permit some exceptions to what constitutes prior art for a one-year grace period. For example, an inventor’s own public disclosures within a year of the effective filing date does not constitute prior art under the AIA.

The best way to ensure that you receive a patent is to file the application as soon as possible and to file multiple provisional applications to ensure you receive the earliest filing date.

Source: http://www.perkinscoie.com/first-inventor-to-file-12-12-2012/

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Turkish Professionals Discuss Trade Agreement with US

Turkey Trade AgreementAs the United States and the European Union continue talks of a free-trade agreement, Turkish professionals are debating how this agreement can increase trade between Turkey and the US in a way that benefits Turkey.

There has been a swift, noticeable increase in trade volume between the US and Turkey over the last 10 years, Turkish American Business Association (TABA/AmCham) President Ekim Alptekin said. However, Turkey’s imports from the US, amounting to $14 billion, and their exports to the US, amounting to $5.6 billion, are not enough trade between the two countries. Alptekin said it is important for Turkey to improve commercial relations with the US because their trade with Europe is declining.

Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) Vice President Ahmet Ciğer noted that under the free-trade agreement, Turkey would be subject to the same rules as Europe while importing goods from the US, but the US could impose extra tariffs on exported goods from Turkey. “However,” Ciğer said, “since trade relations between the US and Turkey are not at the desired level, the damage would not be that fatal.”

For the past two years, the US was ranked Turkey’s fifth largest trading partner, and Turkey was the 32nd largest goods trading partner for the US in 2011. The top exports from Turkey to the US are vehicles, machinery, iron and steel, and the top imports from the US to Turkey are aircrafts, iron and steel, oil, and machinery.

The two countries also have other shared business ideas. US firms are investing in Turkey because they consider it a springboard to Middle Eastern, and regional markets of the Caucasus and Central Asia, and there is a growing interest from Turkish infrastructures and energy companies to join the U.S. market.

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Holographic Wills: A Bad Idea

Handwritten willA holographic will, or handwritten will, is valid in Florida only if it meets specific requirements set forth by law. These requirements include that the will meets specific execution standards, is properly witnessed, and names beneficiaries. If the document does not meet these standards, the will cannot be used in the probate process, giving the power of the estate to the courts and making the process all the more difficult.

A holographic will should only be used in extreme situations, such as if the person does not have a will and has to have immediate surgery.

The best thing to do is to draft and update your will far before anything happens to you. If you have any assets of value, you need to draft a will, regardless of your age. You want to make sure that if something happens to you, your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are not stuck with a lengthy, painful probate process.

Your will should include monetary assets, no matter how minute, physical assets, such as a boat or house, non-physical assets, such as intellectual property, and digital assets, such as an EBay or online gaming account.

If you do not have a will or estate plan, you should contact an estate-planning attorney. It is never too early or too late to draft a will, that is, until you are deceased.

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Civil Litigation Suit at St. Joseph’s London hospital

freeimage-3991272In 2008, St. Joseph’s London hospital was named one of the top 100 cardiac hospitals in the country by Thompson Reuters, but that reputation has quickly taken a turn for the worse. Nearly 400 people are suing St. Joseph’s London hospital in Kentucky, and 11 of their cardiologists, claiming the hospital conspired to perform unnecessary cardiac procedures.

After suffering through at least 24 heart procedures over 20 years at St. Joseph’s, Edward Marshall, a disabled former meat cutter and one of the plaintiffs in the suit, decided enough was enough. He went to see a specialist in Lexington, Dr. Michael R. Jones, who told Marshall that his most recent procedure was unnecessary because the blockage was too small. Further investigation found that these unnecessary procedures had been performed on many of the other patients at St. Joseph’s.

In addition to the alleged harm caused to all of these patients, perhaps the most detrimental is the decreasing amount of trust that people can place in doctors today. We expect that after all of their training, we should be able to trust our doctors. Unfortunately, in today’s world, this is not the case.

The suit alleges that two patients died, others will be required to take dangerous blood-thinning medications for life, and the patients are at risk of other potentially fatal complications. The hospital is currently under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office.

If you have doubts about a diagnoses or procedure your doctor wants to perform, get a second opinion. If you have already had an unnecessary procedure, you should contact an attorney immediately to find out your rights.

Source: Courier Journal

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Twitter Followers: Company or Personal Property?

Twitter followersJim Roberts, one of the top editors at the New York Times, recently quit the Times and the debate ensued as to who owned his 75,000 Twitter followers. Roberts accepted a buyout for the followers, but the issue has still come under debate and speculation.

Twitter followers are a commodity in today’s social-media-obsessed society. One company valued each of its Twitter followers at $2.50, while another valued them at less than $0.01. Either way, followers can still be assessed some kind of monetary value, which causes a debate between companies and employees as to who “owns” them.

If you use a business Twitter account, or are beginning a job where you will surely create one, you should adhere to the following advice from CBS News:

Get it in writing. An employment contract is a standard practice, and a social media clause should be included. It should specifically state who owns your Twitter handle, your followers, and any other accounts you will be contributing to. This goes for other social media sites and blogs as well.

If you are the boss, you should setup a social media policy to be signed by all employees. Social media should be part of the job description for most industries.

Don’t turn over your passwords. If someone else has access to your account, then it is harder to claim that the account is solely yours.

Don’t share your account. If you do, then the account is no longer yours. It becomes a company or community account.

Don’t ask your employees to use their existing accounts. It will be almost impossible to differentiate personal followers from company followers if you do this.

Keep the personal off the account. This should be obvious: Keep your personal life at home. It has no place in the work environment and certainly no place on a public business forum.

Following these procedures can help you avoid a stressful litigation suit in the future.

Source: CBS News

Estate Tax

Now that the American Taxpayer Relief Act has been passed, the federal estate tax exemption is set at $5 million per person, indexed for inflation. The index for 2013 is at $5.25 million. If a person dies and their estate is valued over this indexed amount, then the must pay a 40% tax to the federal government.Federal Estate Tax

Just because the federal government has increased the estate tax exemption does not mean the states have to. The exemption rates and tax percentages vary from state to state.

Fortunately, Florida does not have a state estate tax, but Forbes says that could change. The pre-2001 state estate tax credit allowed states to share in the federal estate tax revenue, but this is no longer the case. “For states that were hoping for a return to that revenue sharing, it’s possible that they will consider adding stand-alone taxes,” James Walschlager, a research analyst, told Forbes.

Figuring out the complicated mess of estate taxes is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to estate planning. Wills and trusts, or lack thereof, probate, power of attorney, estate executors, and the actual inheritance are all things to consider. If you have questions about estate planning for you or a loved one, contact Boyer Law Firm today.

Source: Forbes

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Business Piracy of Intellectual Property

Business piracy is the unauthorized use of intellectual property owned by a business. Business piracy is stealing.

Theft of intellectual property costs businesses in Florida and throughout the United States billions of dollars per year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). On their website they state that intellectual property theft is the top priority of their cyber program.

Due to the internet, business piracy occurs on an international level, and the lax laws in some countries make it harder to enforce.

business piracyBecause of this, the California Bar Association lists some tips to help businesses prevent business piracy. These tips include:

  1. Employment contracts should have certain provisions to protect your intellectual property
  2. Use strict procedures when dealing with licensing
  3. Keep detailed minutes of all meetings
  4. Keep records of who is privy to the intellectual property
  5. Share the intellectual property with others strictly on a need to know basis

Although you can never be fully protected from business piracy in this day and age, these tips will help minimize the likeliness of it to occur, and if you are pirated, you will have detailed records that will aid you and your attorney in the litigation process.

Sources: CEB Blog ; FBI

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Fake Attorneys

freeimage-5553348With the invention of the internet, it is very easy for people to misrepresent themselves as lawyers.

In Arkansas, Anthony Calderon is accused of defrauding non-English speaking immigrants and taking their money. In New York, Terence Kindlon Jr. was indicted for practicing law without a license and filing false documents while unlawfully representing a criminal defendant.

If you are not a licensed attorney, giving legal advice is a third-degree felony.

When you are looking for an attorney, it is important to do your homework. At the very least, be sure that your attorney is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, and that they are eligible to practice in the jurisdiction your case requires. Also, be sure that your matter matches the areas of law they practice.

Sources: Channel 5 ; Law Updates

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Florida Tourism’s New Ad Campaign

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism agency, began its new ad campaign, “Must be the Sunshine,” with a commercial spot during Sunday night’s Grammy Awards.

Florida Tourism

The ad follows in the footsteps of Florida’s recently released business brand, introduced by Enterprise Florida and Rick Scott. The agency is attempting to make Florida the number one tourism spot in the world, and Disney World, Universal Studios, and other major theme parks in Florida are banding together to support the ad.

Tourism is Florida’s No. 1 industry. There are approximately 80 million tourists spending $70 billion annually in Florida, and Visit Florida wants to make this number even bigger. Tourism funds many Florida businesses, including restaurants, hotels, and much more. This new ad campaign creates a unique opportunity to open a business in Florida in one of these industries.

If you are interested in starting a business in the tourism industry, or even in just getting a tourism visa to visit Disney World, contact us today.

Source: Herald Tribune

Photo:© Photographer Mc Moisei | Agency: Dreamstime.com

 

What is International Law?

Merriam-Webster defines international law as a “body of rules that control or affect the rights of nations in their relations with each other.”International Law

The term “International Law” was coined by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. It can apply to any form of law in which two or more countries are involved. Here at Boyer Law Firm, PL, we pride ourselves in the ability to handle international law. Our lawyers, of counsels, and paralegals speak English, French, Spanish, and more, allowing us to assist clients in many areas of the world.

We practice six major categories of “International Law”:

-          International Business Law
-          Foreign Investment
-          U.S. Visas
-          Real Estate Investment
-          U.S. Customs Law – Import & Export
-          Foreign Judgments Execution in Florida (For other states or countries)

Because we are well versed on practicing these areas on an international level, it allows us to practice them on a domestic level with ease because there are fewer variables to consider.

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Increase in Income Tax has Californians moving to Florida

California millionaires are heading across the country to Florida to escape the new increase in taxes. Those who make over $1 million per year will be faced with a 51.9 percent federal-state combined income tax.

At 13.3 percent, California’s state income tax is higher than any other state and the steepest it has been since World War II. Income tax

As a result, many of California’s millionaires are following the trend of celebrities like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and moving to Florida, where there is no personal income tax. For someone who makes $1 million per year, that’s a savings of $133,000 annually!

“What we like to point out to people is that there are states with absolutely no personal income tax,” David Kline, a vice president of the California Taxpayers Association told the New York Times. “So if you moved from California to Florida, and you are in a high-income bracket, you are automatically giving yourself a 13.3 percent raise.”

If you are interested in moving to Florida, Boyer Law Firm can help. Our expertise in business law can help you start a company or foreign qualify your existing company in Florida. We can also help you with residential and commercial purchases and leases.  For more information, contact us today.

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Source: New York Times

 

Attorney Boyer will Travel to France & Turkey in March

MondissimoWe are pleased to announce that Attorney Francis M. Boyer, of Boyer Law Firm, PL, will be available for meetings in Istanbul, Turkey, from March 1 to March 8, 2013 and Paris, France, on March 18, 21, and 22.

He will also be participating in the 5th annual Mondissimo Convention on March 19th and 20th.

As a result, Mr. Boyer’s availability will be extremely limited during the month of March. If you need help with a potential matter or your current matter, please contact us immediately so that we can plan together how to manage your matter while he is away.

If you will be in France or Turkey during this time and would like to meet with Mr. Boyer, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Property Liens and Title Searches

bankruptA title search, performed by a Florida real estate attorney, is one of the most important aspects in purchasing a residential or commercial property. This is because it is so important to make sure there are no liens on the property.

A property lien is a notice attached to a property stating that a creditor claims the owner of the property owes them money. It is typically public record and filed with the county records office or the secretary of state. It is a common method of debt collection because it is cheap and usually efficient.

If you are the buyer of a house and a title search is not done, or not done correctly, you could end up buying a house with a lien on it, thus taking on the previous owner’s debt as your own. Depending on the amount of the lien, this could bankrupt the buyer.

If you have the means, it is a good idea to do a title search before making an offer on a property, because signing your name on an offer is signing your name on a contract. If the proper adendums are not added to this contract, you could end up with a lot of problems in addition to potential liens.

By performing the title search beforehand, a professional can estimate the delays in closing on the transaction and you will not have to seek shelter in a hotel after vacating your prior house.

Additionally, you may find out that only one owner listed the property for sale, and the other owners do not want to sell. You may also find that the property is part of a tangled probate matter.

If you have questions about property liens or contract law, contact Boyer Law Firm today.

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Immigration Reform and the Visa Process

Immigration ReformImmigration reform has been a hot topic for a while now. Everyone wants to know what the United States should do about illegal immigrants residing in this country, but far fewer people are concerned about how the reform will affect those trying to come to the U.S. through the proper channels.

Every person who wants to come to the United States legally must apply for a visa or legal permanent residence. A foreign national may be eligible for a visa if they:
-          Have family in the United States
-          Have been offered a job in a specialized field
-          Are willing to invest a substantial amount of money into a business
-          Are coming to visit temporarily for business, pleasure, or medical purposes
-          And more.

However, if the immigration reform passes, USCIS employees will be overwhelmed with applications from hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants. This will cause a “clog” in the system, meaning visa processes that already take months to complete will take much longer.

If you are thinking about applying for a visa or permanent residence, you should contact Boyer Law Firm immediately to begin the process.

Investing in the Single-Family Home Rental Market

For the first time in Florida history, real estate investment firms are investing in the single-family home rental market, replacing so-called “condo vulture” investors.Singe-Family Home Investment

Private equity funds, hedge funds, and REITs have purchased at least 4,000 single-family homes for the purpose of renting them out. These companies pay cash for a cluster of foreclosed or bank-owned homes, rent them out for a couple years, and then sell them for a profit. This business model works because home prices are low, rent prices are high, and the market is expected to bounce back in a couple years.

These homes are a much better investment than condos because in addition to the eventual payoff when the property is sold, single-family home investors can also make a profit while renting out the homes.

Previously, it was almost impossible to buy homes in clusters because they went on the market randomly and were usually spread out over a wide geographic location. This is no longer the case because the Federal Housing Finance Agency is now selling foreclosed homes in bundles.

Investors also have the option of hiring a local property management company to keep up with maintenance, rent collection and more, making the process even easier.

If you have the venture capital, it is a great time to start a Florida real estate investment company. For foreign investors, this could also be a path to a visa if the investment is sufficient and will create jobs.

Hiring a Contractor Could Put a Lien on your Home!!

Great news! You’veSuccessful Contractor found a contractor to remodel your kitchen. He finishes the job, you pay him, and you think the deal is done. Unfortunately, that is not the case: your contractor failed to pay the material supplier, and the amount owed is $20,000.

“But I paid the contractor,” you say. “Go after him.”

Although this seems like the logical response, it is not the way Florida law works. If you pay your contractor in full, and he fails to pay the subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, or material suppliers, a lien can still be placed against your home.

That’s right! If your contractor does not pay one of the other workers, you could end up paying the $20,000 twice and there is almost no defense to protect you from this kind of lien.

There is no defense to this because the claimant is abiding by Florida law. The only way to protect yourself from this happening is through preventative measures: namely, a stipulation in the contract. The contract should stipulate that your contractor should provide you with a written release from lien from any person or company that has provided to you a “Notice to Owner” before you pay him.

The same thing can happen if you hire someone to remodel your bathroom, repair your roof, or even fix a fence in your yard.

If you are thinking about hiring a contractor, you should contact Boyer Law Firm first. Our expertise in contract law will protect you from this somewhat insane law.

***If you have received a “Notice to Owner,” you should contact an attorney immediately. Florida construction laws are complicated, and if the notice turns into a lien, your property can go into foreclosure and be sold out from under you.***

Florida’s Business Brand

Enterprise Florida and Governor Rick Scott unveiled Florida’s business brand yesterday: “Florida. The Perfect Climate for Business.” The brand, the first one in Florida history, provides a common thread that will allow the state’s economic development organizations to work together in order to showcase Florida as a premier business destination.

Florida Business Brand

*Image courtesy of Enterprise Florida, Inc.

“Each day I talk with CEOs around the world to tell them that Florida is the best place to do business,” Scott said. The tagline of the brand combines Florida’s reputation for beautiful weather with the state’s key attributes relating to Florida’s business climate. These attributes include:

-          No personal income tax
-          15 seaports that allow for global trade
-          One of the top workforces in the nation
-          A transportation infrastructure
-          Business-friendly court systems
-          And more

“Florida’s business climate makes it an equally appealing place to locate, start or expand a business,” said Gary Swoope, the Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO of Enterprise Florida Inc.

If you are interested in doing so, contact Boyer Law Firm today. We can help with everything from incorporating to finding a business location to civil litigation.