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Steven W. Ledbetter
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Steven Ledbetter’s Answers

133 total


  • There are four copies of the same deed on public records. Why?

    We searched public records relating to a real property that we have an interest in, and found that there are multiple (up to four) copies of some of the deeds. Why would there be multiple copies on record? Is this to be expected, or is it someth...

    Steven’s Answer

    The prior post contributed by Mr. Deason is spot on -- there are several possible explanations. A common one I see in my practice is where there are several beneficiaries of an estate and quit claim deeds are required for the title insurance company to issue a policy prior to the probate case being completed.

    Are all the deeds conveying to the same person?

    Last, you should be aware, of course, that just because something has been recorded in the public records DOES NOT mean that it is correct, legal, or has any effect whatsoever. During the recent real estate boom, a real estate scam that received a lot of attention in Miami-Dade County, Florida, was where a scam artist would execute a forged quitclaim deed to themselves on a vacant piece of property, gain access via a locksmith, and then sell the property. I.e., just because the quitclaim deed was recorded, doesn't mean it is proper. The Clerk's office will record most anything (there are rules, of course) you ask them to, so long as you pay the proper fee.

    If you have further questions, you may find it helpful to retain counsel to do a title search and explain it to you. This is basic due diligence, and an attorney that does title work, such as myself, shouldn't cost more than a couple hundred dollars to provide some more specific answers.

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  • My landlord is not giving me my security deposit, and 15 days of rent that we did not live.

    The house that we rented from our landlord hard horrible ugly old dirty carpets, the walls were not painted, hard many holes from picture frames. Toilets were leaking. I had to fix all the problems, After living 5.5 months 4 times the kitchen area...

    Steven’s Answer

    You definitely consult with a landlord-tenant attorney, as it appears you should be able to demand the return of your security deposit. However, as with all legal matters, there is a cost/benefit analysis that should be done to determine how much money you are willing to pay to rectify this wrong.

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  • Brother made executor and probably will steal from me

    My brother was made legal executor of our mothers will. He is a shady charecter to put it nicely and we dont speak or even like each other. I dont trust him to give me my half of the inheritance or the sale of our moms house. If this happens, woul...

    Steven’s Answer

    If your mother was a Florida resident and your brother were appointed as the personal representative by the court, then he has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of all beneficiaries of the estate. That said, since probate can sometimes be confusing, some beneficiaries decide to retain an attorney to monitor the progress of a probate administration and provide counsel as to their rights as a beneficiary.

    If your brother has not yet opened a probate administration, then that is the first step and I would strongly recommend that you take steps to ensure it happens.

    I highly recommend at least an initial consultation with a local attorney in order to better understand the probate process and your rights therein.

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  • I have a close friend who is a 50% owner in a restaurant which is organized as a corporation. They have been

    A close friend who is a 50% business parnter in a corporation, with her now her ex-husband. They have been having strained relations which led to her not being in the restaurant for over a year, yet still involed in duties outside of the front of...

    Steven’s Answer

    Restaurants are extra-tricky when compared to other businesses due to the additional permits and licenses involved (e.g., liquor license, food and beverage license, etc.). The corporate bylaws will control the corporate governance, and where there are gaps, look to the statute.

    Practically speaking, there is a cost-benefit analysis that must be done/reviewed prior to taking any legal action, and in the case of business dealing (such as here), these must not be overlooked. It's not a simple matter, and I strongly encourage the parties to retain legal counsel.

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  • I have a rental house where the tenant has no contract or lease. Can I move his belongings out of the property?

    He sent me an email stating that he was living somewhere else and couldn't afford both. The rent is due and I have it rented to someone else.

    Steven’s Answer

    The short answer is "No". Ideally, you have at least an oral agreement to pay rent by which you can evict the tenant. Otherwise, depending on your fact situation, a suit for ejectment may be a more appropriate remedy.

    Practically speaking, if you want someone to move out...
    a) harmoniously (i.e., without damaging the place); and
    b) quickly
    then your best option is to pay them to get out. Logically, if they have money to find another place, then they are more likely to be able to move out. Further, they are less likely to pour a bag of concrete down the toliet. What I common suggest is something along the following: "If you move out and leave the place broom clean by 5:00pm on Saturday, I'll pay you $1,000.00 cash." Of course, I also recommend you have your attorney prepare a termination and release agreement specific to your situation for landlord and tenant to sign at the same time.

    Summary:
    a) If they are rightfully living there/storing their stuff there, you may not trespass on their right to exclusive possession.
    b) Practical/non-legal solution that commonly works is paying them to get out.
    c) Otherwise, consult your attorney, as you have not provided much detail as to your particular fact situation.

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  • Do I need a real estate attorney?

    I live in Venice, FL. My ex-fiance and I purchased a home from an attorney as a "for sale by owner" in November 2011. At the time life was good but now she is gone and is not welcome back. Our agreement with the person we bought the house from wa...

    Steven’s Answer

    I agree with the above contributor, yes, you do need an attorney. It sounds like the solution is for you to modify the mortgage, releasing your ex-fiance and at the same time removing her from title. You will need to work with the attorney who holds the note, and I recommend you have your own counsel to facilitate things. There are a number a good attorneys in Venice, FL that will be able to assist you.

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  • Was sole owner of a C Corp... bought & sold mortgages. I let the C corp expire in 09. Investor just called and Corp will be

    receiving a check, from a mortgage payoff. How do I cash the check?

    Steven’s Answer

    Agree with first post above. Refer to Chapter 607 of the Florida Statutes for more on dissolution of a corporation, etc., specifically, 607.1401-607.1407.

    If you need additional guidance, I recommend that you consult an attorney.

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  • Can homestead property be sold in Florida?

    My husband died intestate in Florida last year. As the surviving spouse with minor children, when and how can I sell our homestead property? The deed was in his name only with no mortgage.

    Steven’s Answer

    I believe that in addition to the above posting, you may, alternatively, elect to receive an undivided 1/2 interest in the real property, with the remaining 1/2 going in equal shares to his minor children; however, you would need to make this election within 6 months after the decedent's death. If over 6 months have passed, you are left with the life estate.

    Regardless, you will need to hire an attorney to assist you in sorting this matter out.

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  • Can I place a lien on trust property that owes me money I put in to keep the trust solvent. I am 1 of 3 trustees.

    My fellow trustees are refusing to reimburse me and are now in the process of selling the property.

    Steven’s Answer

    You should have prepared a promissory note (and security instrument, as applicable) to evidence such a loan. If this wasn't done at the time of the loan, it may be possible to do so now.

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  • I am the executor of my dying dads will.My name on the will is my last married name. Do I need to change anything?

    The will was drawn up in 1992. I have since been divorced and remarried. My mom is still alive.

    Steven’s Answer

    I agree with the above postings. Should the Will not be updated, the attorney you retain to assist with a probate administration will be able to resolve any name issues.

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