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Construction

Important Items to Include in a Construction Contract

Construction projects require collaboration between multiple businesses from various industries to be completed successfully. Like any business transaction, having a well-written and thorough contract is essential when taking on a construction project. Construction contracts define the risks and liabilities of contractors, subcontractors, construction companies, and clients. Here are the main items to include in a construction contract. 

Lien warning

In Florida, a lien warning is required for all direct contracts greater than $2,500 that deal with single or multiple-family homes up to four units. The disclaimer ensures property owners are notified that contractors or anyone who works on a property have the right to impose a claim on the property and sell it for parts, materials, and labor if they are not paid (which is called a lien). The notice also ensures homeowners are aware that they may be subject to a lien even if they paid their contractor in full, but the contractor failed to pay employees. Florida Statute 713.015 details the exact wording and requirements for the disclaimer. It must appear in 12 point font that is capitalized in bold on the first page of the contract or on a separate page. It must also be signed and dated by the property owner. 

Project description

Another essential item in a construction contract is a detailed scope of work. The project description should include who will complete each part of the project. This section should also contain any relevant documents, such as blueprints or drawings, that will help accurately represent the scope of the work. An in-depth project description holds everyone involved with the project accountable and helps them understand the project’s goals. 

Change order clauses

One common aspect of a construction contract is defining how change orders will be handled throughout the project. Change orders describe how the project will be revised if the scope of work alters due to unexpected challenges, timeline modifications, mistakes, and aesthetic changes.

Construction schedule

Although changes may occur, a construction contract should estimate a relatively accurate timeframe of when the project should be completed. This section should also detail how to adjust the original timeframe if needed. 

Specifications 

This section is a detailed overview of the techniques and materials used in the project. Specification sections can be very technical, which is why they should be formatted according to the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat so that it is easy for contractors and subcontractors to understand.  

Cost estimate

Although it is nearly impossible to estimate the exact cost of a construction project, the contractor or construction company must understand all aspects of the project to provide an accurate cost estimate. 

Indemnities 

Another critical aspect of a construction contract is to include indemnities. Sometimes referred to as a “hold harmless” clause, indemnity helps manage the risk taken by the involved parties during the project. Indemnity is a payment made by one party to another that covers damages, injuries, or losses during the project due to the negligent acts of another party. 

License and insurance information  

Including your business license number and insurance information in a construction contract shows that you have the means to complete the contract and are covered in case of accident or injury. Florida requires contractors to hold a minimum of $300,000 in general liability coverage for bodily injury and $50,000 for property damage. Including your information shows your ability and credibility to complete the project. 

Special considerations or conditions

Lastly, any considerations or conditions relevant to the project should be included in this section. Any details that will be helpful for the property owner, contractor, and subcontractors to know will assure the project scope is as clear as possible. 

Boutty Law Firm: Central Florida construction attorneys 

Construction contracts can be very complicated and have a significant economic impact if not written correctly. The Boutty Law Firm has 20 years of experience working with construction companies. We will ensure you create a construction contract that helps you get the job done and keeps your clients well-informed. Contact us at 407-710-0461 or get in touch using our contact form for assistance in creating your next construction contract. 

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new business

Choosing the Right Business Entity

It is a new year, which means you may be thinking about starting a new business. Launching your business begins with choosing the right entity, accounting for your future business goals. In Florida, there are various options available when establishing your business. Here are the most popular business entities and the advantages and drawbacks of each type. 

Sole proprietorship

Sole proprietorships are the most common business structure. New businesses are automatically classified as sole proprietorships in Florida unless registered with the state. Sole proprietorships are owned and operated by individuals; there is no distinction between the business and the person. If you want to establish a different business name, you will need to register your sole proprietorship under a fictitious name, called a DBA (“doing business as”). DBAs must be registered with the state.

Advantages

Sole proprietorships are quick and easy to set up. They require almost no paperwork and are set up automatically.

Disadvantages 

Since there is no distinction between the owner and the business, sole proprietors are liable for personal and business assets. This means someone can sue a sole proprietor for their home and other personal assets, not just their business profits. 

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Another typical business structure is an LLC. LLCs may be operated individually or with several employees and contractors. LLCs must be registered with the state and keep up yearly registration fees and licenses, depending on the type of business. 

Advantages

LLCs are separate business entities that are not tied to the business owner’s personal assets. If someone were to sue an LLC, they could only sue for the business’ profits. LLCs allow for distinguished business structures without the formalities of a corporation. 

Disadvantages 

LLCs require some paperwork to set up and be registered yearly with the state. LLCs require separate accounting for the business, which increases paperwork and tax preparation costs.

Corporations 

Corporations are entirely separate entities from individuals or business owners. Essentially, a corporation can act as an individual: loaning and borrowing cash, filing lawsuits, hiring employees, and entering contracts. Business ownership is obtained by purchasing stocks in the business. While many individuals may operate a corporation, shareholders are the business owners.

Advantages

The advantages of creating a corporation are that it is self-sufficient and runs separately from business operators. Forming a corporation may be a good idea if your future business goals include international expansion. 

Disadvantages 

Corporations have strict guidelines and laws they must follow. Detailed record keeping is required, and accounting records must be submitted to the state to ensure legal operation. There are also more taxes involved with forming a corporation. 

Non-profit 

A non-profit is a charitable corporation formed for philanthropic, educational, scientific, or religious reasons. Non-profits are run by a board of directors and operated by individual employees or volunteers. Non-profits must apply and be approved for 501(c)3 (tax exemption) status. 

Advantages 

Non-profits are tax exempt, by far one of the most significant advantages of this business entity.

Disadvantages

There are many policies non-profits must follow. This type of business structure is only available for certain kinds of businesses. 

Boutty Law Firm: Orlando business attorneys 

The Boutty Law Firm can help ensure your new business is in good legal standing. We can help you file paperwork to get your business affairs in order, as well as draft up employee contracts and help file quarterly reports. Contact us at 407-622-1395 to learn how we can help your business grow. 

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Trusts

Types of Trusts You Should Know

A trust is a common way of transferring wealth from one generation to another as a part of an estate plan. Depending on your estate, having a trust may have several advantages. Below, we discuss the different types of trusts so you can evaluate which one should be a part of your estate plan. 

What is a trust? 

A trust is a fiduciary relationship between a trustor (the person creating the trust), a trustee (the person managing it), and beneficiaries (those receiving the assets of the estate). A trust is a way of transferring the property and assets of an estate without going through the probate process after the trustor passes away. Trusts cannot be contested in court, which speeds up the process of dividing assets. Trusts go into effect once created, even if the trustor is still living. Trusts give trustors and trustees more control of their assets and estate division. However, they are generally more expensive to establish and must be regularly managed. Every trust must include a trustor, a trustee, a successor trustee, and beneficiaries. There are many different types of trusts to serve the needs of your estate. Below, we discuss the most common ones. 

Living trusts

Living trusts are established when the trustor is still living and managed during their lifetime. They can be changed and altered after their creation. While the trustor is still living, the property and assets within the trust are owned by them. A living trust becomes “operational” after the trustor’s passing. A living trust may be revocable or irrevocable. 

Revocable trusts

Revocable trusts are a type of living trust with the purpose of avoiding probate. Once the trust is set up, no lawyer or court fees will need to be paid. Once the trustor dies, the property in a revocable trust is immediately transferred to the named beneficiaries.

 Irrevocable trusts 

Irrevocable trusts are often established for tax reasons. These types of trusts cannot be altered or revised. The trustor loses control of the assets in this trust when creating it. These types of trusts help with planning for Medicaid, gifts, and tax from life insurance payouts. 

Testamentary trusts 

Testamentary trusts are trusts that are established from instructions in someone’s will. This type of trust allows a trustee to distribute estate funds to beneficiaries after the trustor passes away. The will’s executor is in charge of this type of trust. These trusts reduce estate tax liabilities but still need to go through probate. Another benefit of these trusts is that you can name minors as beneficiaries and establish milestones or timeframes that will give them access to the assets in the trust, such as when they turn 18 or graduate college. 

 Charitable trusts 

Charitable trusts are trusts established to gift funds or assets to charity after the trustor passes away. Charitable trusts reduce or avoid the estate tax liability of the gift. 

Maitland estate attorney: Boutty Law Firm 

An experienced estate planning attorney at the Boutty Law Firm will help you determine which type of trust is best for your particular estate. We will also walk you through other estate planning options based on your needs. Call us at 407-622-1395 to schedule a consultation. 

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Living will

What is a living will?

One aspect of estate planning is advanced directive documentation. Advance directives are written preferences for medical care when you are unable to make medical decisions independently. One important advanced directive is a living will. A living will specifies your desires for medical treatments if you are unable to communicate your desires. Read to learn more about living wills and how to create one as part of your estate planning documentation. 

What is a living will? 

A living will establishes someone’s wishes for medical care and treatment if they cannot communicate their needs. Typical situations where a living will may be beneficial are in a coma, badly injured, terminally ill, or in the late stages of dementia. In addition, having a living will helps your loved ones make better medical decisions on your behalf.  

Elements of a living will 

There are several elements you should include in a living will. You will want to think about particular treatments and procedures you are willing to undergo and which ones you are not. Also, it is essential to think about your desires when you are nearing the end of your life. Do you value life preservation or self-sufficiency? Do you want specific treatments based on your prognosis? Answering these sometimes difficult questions will lead to better decisions in the future. 

Preferences for medical treatments 

 You will want to specify your desires regarding the use of life support equipment like feeding tubes, ventilators, and dialysis in your living will. If you wish to have this type of equipment used, you will want to specify the duration you would like to remain on life support equipment. 

Pain management 

You should include your preferences on antibiotics and antiviral medications in your living will. You can also specify your preferences regarding hospice care and comfort when facing a terminal diagnosis. 

Organ donation

If you wish to donate your organs, it’s advisable to include this in your living will. You can also specify whether you want to donate your body to science. 

Do Not Resuscitate and Do Not Incubate orders 

While Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and Do Not Incubate (DNI) orders are typically specified in your medical records, you can also include this information in your living will. However, make sure your health care physicians are aware of these orders so they can add the information to your medical file. 

Creating a living will 

In Florida, a living will must be signed by the person seeking treatment and two witnesses. One witness cannot be a spouse or blood relative. While it’s not necessary for a living will to be notarized in Florida, it is beneficial. Once a living will is created, you’ll need to send copies to your medical care team, and you should also keep a copy for yourself in a safe place. Also, discuss your living will and desires for medical treatment with your family so everyone is on the same page.

Choose the Boutty Law Firm for estate planning

A living will is one aspect of your estate planning documentation and should be updated every ten years. At the Boutty Law Firm, we assist clients in all aspects of estate planning, including creating legally binding living wills and last wills. We serve all of Central Florida. Visit our office in Maitland, or call 407-622-1395 to schedule a consultation. 

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Real estate law

Should I Work With a Real Estate Attorney?

In today’s current real estate climate, buyers are abundant, but inventory is low. As a result, many buyers negotiate various elements of their purchase offer to make it more attractive to the seller, like waiving inspections and appraisals. Working with a real estate attorney during these transactions will ensure your contract is in good legal standing, lessening the chance the deal will fall through during the closing process. Here are the types of transactions where it is beneficial to hire a real estate attorney. 

Commercial real estate transactions

Commercial real estate transactions require a different set of logistics compared to residential transactions. If you are a land developer or business owner looking to build a new retail space, you must ensure your building adheres to local zoning laws. This can be a complicated process, which is why an experienced real estate attorney can help make sure your development plans meet all requirements before construction begins. 

Closing assistance

During the closing process, a real estate attorney can serve many roles. They look over closing contracts and documents and make sure both parties are aware and understand its terms. Real estate attorneys gather the necessary paperwork, such as the seller’s disclosure statement, commercial leases, and sales finalization papers, to ensure they are legal and ready to enforce. During the closing, real estate attorneys are present to secure a smooth and orderly transition from buyer to seller.

Appraisal appeals and negotiation 

An appraisal is an integral part of securing a mortgage for a home loan. Lenders want to know that the property you are looking to purchase is worth the price the buyers are selling it for, and having an appraiser assess the property is the most common way to do this. Unfortunately, in this hot real estate market, a home may not appraise for the offer price. When this happens, buyers may have to come up with the cash to make up the difference in the appraised value and the offer price to secure a mortgage. Instead, some homebuyers appeal the appraisal—which is where a real estate attorney can assist. A real estate attorney will help negotiate the appraisal appeal on your behalf, citing factors such as the comparable properties (“comps”) that were used and additional home improvements that may increase the home’s value. 

Title and lien searches 

Another critical part of the real estate transaction process is the title and lien search, which helps determine whether the seller has the legal ownership and right to sell the property. A Real estate attorney will develop a detailed report, including a history of ownership, a list of current mortgages, and any liens on the property. This allows the potential homeowners to purchase the home free and clear.

The Boutty Law Firm: Orlando real estate attorneys 

Our experienced real estate attorneys at The Boutty Law Firm can assist in all aspects of real estate law and transactions, whether commercial or residential. If you are a real estate agent or a potential homeowner, let us partner with you to ensure a smooth real estate transaction. Visit our office in Maitland, or call 407-622-1395 to schedule a consultation.

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