The Elliot Legal Group, P.A. Offices | Fort Lauderdale and Miami

3101 N. Federal Hwy., Suite 609,
Oakland Park, Florida 33306

*Licensed in England and Wales, Florida and Washington D.C.

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Fort Lauderdale

754-332-2101

Miami

305-399-3832

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Recent blog posts

Surfside business law attorney alternative dispute resolution

As a business owner, you have likely experienced your fair share of conflict in the workplace. Whether it is an undependable employee or frequent arguments between two employees or a business partner, running a successful business is a difficult task that requires patience, understanding, and a strong hand when necessary. Rising disputes in the workplace can lead to a toxic work environment for everyone, even those who are not involved in the conflict. While going to court to end the dispute is an option, you should consider the two following alternatives before spending the time and money in litigation.

Mediation

Mediation is typically the starting point for business owners who are noticing a dispute emerging. This form of alternative dispute resolution resolves misunderstandings with a neutral party present to manage the process. Mediation is not as structured as litigation and can allow the two disputing parties to discuss their grievances in a private, relaxed setting before getting a judge involved. The mediator is hired to manage the discussion, speaking privately with each party, or bringing the two parties together for further discussion. The mediator’s job is to help the two parties come to a voluntary agreement, not to take on an authoritative role and choose for them. 

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Surfside bankruptcy attorney

Due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on individual families and the economy as a whole, governors across the country put up protections against evictions and foreclosures. Now seven months into the pandemic, states have begun allowing these eviction and foreclosure moratoriums to expire, Florida included. Governor Ron DeSantis’ moratorium expired on October 1, leaving many Floridians panicked about how they will make ends meet. You may be concerned about your family’s financial well-being, feeling as if you are on the brink of bankruptcy. Luckily, financial assistance is available and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have picked up where some of the states left off.

Affordable Housing Coronavirus Relief Initiative

In late June, Gov. DeSantis announced $250 million in CARES Act funding would be used as rental and mortgage assistance for families who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Known as the Affordable Housing Coronavirus Relief Initiative, the large sum of $250 million has been divided into two even pools. One was administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) as short-term rental assistance and the other half was released to counties throughout the state based on its reemployment assistance rate. According to the official press release, this second $120 million will be used for rental and homeowner assistance programs such as rehabilitation, new construction, mortgage buydowns, and more for those who have been impacted by COVID-19. The FHFC has information about the progress of the program.

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Surfside real estate attorney

Buying a house is likely one of the most expensive and meaningful purchases that you will make in your lifetime. Whether this is your first home buying experience or your fifth, it is important that you have a legal expert by your side to guide you through the process. Florida law does not require the purchasing or selling parties to hire a real estate attorney, though it is always advisable to do so. Not only can this save you time and money, but a reputable real estate lawyer will confirm that the terms outlined in these complex contracts do indeed match your stated agreement to the seller. If you are considering purchasing a home, our Broward County real estate attorney can guide you through the below steps. 

The Purchase and Sale Agreement

One of the first documents in the buying process, the purchase and sale agreement determines the terms of your purchase—and the enclosed details may not be adjusted or avoided later in the process. For this reason, it is important to hire an attorney before signing any legal documents. Florida law requires judges to treat you as if you read every word of a document before you signed it. In other words, if you skipped a few lines and missed key details, the judge will likely still enforce the terms of the agreement.

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Posted on in Bankruptcy

Surfside bankruptcy attorney

Finding yourself drowning in debt is never the place that anyone expects to see themselves a few years down the road. Unfortunately, life can serve you with unforeseen circumstances—an ongoing illness that requires regular treatment or the loss of a job and regular income—and you can quickly see your debts piling up. Filing for bankruptcy is often people’s last resort; however, you may come to the realization that you actually do not qualify for bankruptcy. Depending on a number of factors, you may or may not be able to take this route when trying to get your finances under control. While it is always best to consult a bankruptcy attorney to know for sure, you may conduct your own financial analysis first to determine whether or not filing for bankruptcy is an option for you.

Passing the Means Test

There are two common ways to file for bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves the liquidation of your assets, then using these liquidated funds to pay off your debts. Not all assets are eligible, allowing you to keep a number of your assets in the process. Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides you with a financial fresh start once the legal process is complete. Sounds like a great option, right? While this type of bankruptcy is helpful for many families, not everyone qualifies to use its benefits. In 2005, a means test was created in order to make it more difficult for wealthy consumers to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The test uses Florida’s median family income for your household size as an indicator of your eligibility. In 2018, this income threshold totaled to $53,267 per household. In other words, if your household makes less than this amount, you automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If, however, your household has a combined income that is higher than this amount, you will need to follow additional steps to determine your eligibility. 

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Dania Beach bankruptcy attorney

It is no secret that the economy has taken a significant hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. As stay-at-home orders initially went into effect back in March, the unpredictability of the virus has many restaurants and other businesses slowly opening as cases fall, only to reel back their services as cases rise again. The uncertainty regarding when things will go back to normal has forced many American businesses to make tough decisions about their workforce, including filing for bankruptcy. Although the entire country has taken a hit from COVID-19, Floridians are seeing some of the most significant financial distress in the country.

Looking at the Numbers

WalletHub conducted an economic analysis of all 50 states to determine who has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. According to their research, Florida ranks as the fifth-worst state when looking at the financial situation of its residents. The analysis was done by looking at credit scores; the number of people whose financial accounts are in forbearance or have deferred payments; the change in the number of bankruptcies filed in January versus July; and search trends for the term “bankruptcy” within that state. It was found that approximately 1.16 million Floridians were unemployed in July, resulting in an 11.5 percent unemployment rate for the state. The location for most of these unemployment numbers? The Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area with just over 402,000 residents unemployed that same month.

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Sunrise business law attorney non-compete agreement

Whether you are a newly hired employee or you intend on going into business with someone else, you will likely be required to sign a contract before you can begin work. Many people will sign these employment or business contracts without giving them a second glance. You may be thinking that the contract is not relevant to you as an employee, but more directed toward management positions. No matter what your incoming role in the company may be, it is important to look into the details of any contract with a legal professional before signing. Non-compete agreements are commonly overlooked in Florida business contracts.

What Is a Non-Compete Agreement?

A non-compete agreement is a term within a contract that prohibits the signer from working for another company or starting his or her own business for a certain period of time. The purpose of these agreements is to reduce the chances of an integral employee leaving the company and becoming a competitor. This can involve going to your current employer’s biggest competitor and bringing your experience and previous employer’s business secrets to their competition. Alternatively, you may use the knowledge and connections that you have learned from your current employer and build your own business to compete with them. While it is impossible to restrict these opportunities forever, a non-compete agreement can typically place these legal constraints for six months to two years, and many include a geographic range in which the agreement spans. In other words, you cannot start a competing business down the street, but you can work in another county.

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Broward County real estate attorney foreclosure

Since COVID-19 shut down the U.S. economy in March of 2020, the state and federal governments have been trying to pick up the pieces. The virus’s high rate of contagion forced businesses to close their doors and citizens to remain in their households. For some businesses, this meant working remotely for the time being, while others were hit especially hard and have had to make difficult decisions regarding layoffs, furloughs, and even closing their doors for good. Without a steady income, Americans everywhere have struggled to make ends meet, especially when it comes to paying costly rent and mortgage bills.

Flash-forward six months later and legislation is continuing to be made to avoid mass homelessness across the country. Florida has seen an exceedingly high number of positive cases and the state has closed and reopened a few times since March. With 623,471 positive cases and 11,331 deaths in Florida alone at the time of this writing, Governor DeSantis has recognized and addressed Floridians’ financial difficulties in the midst of the pandemic. Foreclosures and evictions are on the horizon for many Floridians, but Gov. DeSantis continues to put off the inevitable for many.

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Surfside business law attorney

Whether you are starting your first business, revamping your current business, or purchasing someone else’s, selecting the proper business structure that aligns with your mission is an important step. The type of business structure, or business entity, that you decide upon can impact your day-to-day dealings, taxes, your personal asset involvement, and more. It is important to understand the implications of each different business entity before settling upon one that you think fits best. It is always advisable to work with a reputable business lawyer throughout your company’s lifespan, but it is also a good idea to have your own personal understanding of the matter.

Sole Proprietorship

Are you planning on being the sole owner of your business? For those who wish to have complete control over their business, a sole proprietorship is their best and simplest option. In fact, if you do not register your business as any other type of entity, it is automatically considered a sole proprietorship. The risk that sole proprietors take is mixing their business and personal assets and liabilities. If your business accumulates significant debts, you can be held personally liable. Sole proprietorships are a good option for low-risk businesses and owners who wish to test out their business idea prior to establishing a more official business entity.

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Sunrise bankruptcy attorney

When your credit card bills begin to build up and your pockets are feeling empty, you may be unsure of how to handle the situation. Debt can accumulate quickly, and without additional income coming in, you may not be able to pay off your debts by the date that your creditors are requesting. Filing for bankruptcy may be in the back of your mind, but you are likely considering your other options before fully making your decision. There are a number of bankruptcy alternatives, many of which do not fully solve your problems. Debt settlement companies are often considered by those who are deeply in debt and are avoiding filing for bankruptcy. While you may be avoiding bankruptcy, the risks of debt settlement companies are rarely worth taking.

What Is a Debt Settlement Company?

Debt settlement companies have the same goal as bankruptcy -- helping you rid yourself of insurmountable debt. However, these debt settlement programs are typically for-profit companies. The company or program will attempt to negotiate with your creditors to allow you to pay a “settlement” to resolve your debt. This settlement will typically be a lump sum payment that is less than the total amount that you owe. In order to build up this lump sum, the company will request that you set aside money each month into an account that holds your funds for paying off your debt. This savings account will eventually build up to the settlement that the company negotiated for you and you will pay off the debt with that saved money.

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Surfside real estate attorney

Despite COVID-19’s impact on the U.S. economy, the housing market has not come to a stop. Since a high number of Floridians have lost their jobs or taken a pay cut in the last six months, many of these individuals are looking to downsize and reduce their mortgage payments. Additionally, some Floridians have begun to recognize the risks that large cities can pose on its inhabitants, choosing to move outside of these urban areas and avoid forced close quarters. And for those who refuse to let COVID-19 put their life on pause, there is no time like the present to start fresh. Regardless of the reasoning behind moving or deciding to purchase your first home, making such a large purchase can be exciting and intimidating. The home buying process involves much more than simply finding the right type of floors or cabinets. From finding a property to completing the closing process, working with a real estate attorney is your best way to be prepared every step of the way.

Find the Right Professionals

It is never advisable to take on the house hunt and legal home buying process without the help of reputable professionals. Your first step is to find a real estate agent who understands what you are looking for and is familiar with the area in which you are looking to move. A well-experienced real estate agent will be able to help you find a property that fits your financial and personal needs in a reasonable amount of time. A mistake that many first-time homebuyers make is attempting to find a property on their own, spending months or up to one year looking for places to live. Although it is helpful to see a number of properties before deciding on one, the process can sometimes make homebuyers feel overwhelmed. Once you have found a property that you are interested in, hire a reputable real estate attorney to help you with the remainder of the legal process.

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Plantation litigation attorney personal injury

In the midst of recent events and surges of support for the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM), many political protests have surfaced, drawing thousands of people to one area to show their support for racial equality. As some peaceful protests evolve into violent ones, law enforcement officers are wielding their power against protestors, sometimes targeting peaceful protesters in the process. Before attending a protest and exercising your First Amendment rights, it is important to understand what falls under these legal protections to avoid getting involved in a legal matter or criminal case. If you find yourself facing charges, following the proper peaceful protesting guidelines will only strengthen your litigation or personal injury case.

What Rights Does the First Amendment Protect?

The First Amendment is the foundation of American democracy and represents the core values of the United States: freedom of speech. This critical legislation states:

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Surfside bankruptcy attorney asset protection

Everyone’s biggest fear with filing for bankruptcy is losing everything -- your house, vehicles, savings, and more. What many do not know is that filing for bankruptcy does not mean that everything is taken away from you. There are a number of exemptions that Florida allows its residents to keep their assets even after filing for bankruptcy. In order to classify for such exemptions, you must be a Florida resident, not a recently relocated individual. You must have lived in Florida for the past two years to qualify, and if not, you will have to follow your previous state’s exemption requirements. Although it is always best to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer, you should be aware of possible exemptions available to you.

Homestead Exemption

If you are a Florida homeowner, you will likely be able to keep your home after filing for bankruptcy. Most states limit the amount of equity you can have in your house, but Florida is slightly more lenient. As long as you bought and have owned your property 1,215 days (a little less than 3.5 years) before filing, and your property does not exceed a half-acre in size, you qualify for Florida’s homestead exemption.

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Surfside real estate attorney

COVID-19 has been labeled “unprecedented,” “a global pandemic,” and other phrases that designate the impact this contagious virus has had on our nation. With stay-at-home orders being created and extended, restaurants and bars being restricted, and many people losing their jobs as companies cut costs, it can seem impossible to follow through with some of your contractual obligations. Real estate is one of the areas taking the hardest hit—renters are struggling to pay their monthly fees and homeowners are having difficulties with their mortgage dues. Although moratoriums have been put in place, allowing some leeway with payment due dates, they will soon be coming to an end, leaving thousands of Floridians unsure of what to do next.

What Is “Force Majeure”?

The term “force majeure” refers to a clause present in many contracts giving signees a loophole for following the terms of that contract. In general, force majeure clauses require the petitioning party to present a specific and compelling reason why he or she cannot perform the terms of the contract. However, simply saying times are hard is not enough evidence to escape the contract’s terms. In Florida’s legislation, force majeure includes hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fire, extreme weather conditions, or other acts of God, wars, insurrections, acts of terrorism, or unusual transportation delays of which the non-performing party is unable to overcome. As you can see, the global pandemic is not included in this description, yet one might consider these unusual and unforeseen circumstances “other acts of God.” 

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Miami bankruptcy attorney homestead exemption

If your home or property is considered a “homestead,” there are numerous legal protections available to you. It is important to know the qualifications of a homestead if you are a Florida resident. For example, the benefits can save you thousands of dollars each year, as well as protect your home if you are on the verge of bankruptcy. In order to apply for homestead exemption, you must have the legal or beneficial title to your home on January 1 of the year in question. So, if you applied this year, you must have had the title by January 1, 2020. You must also permanently reside at this home—those with Florida vacation homes do not apply. The application for homestead exemption must be submitted between January 1 and March 1 at the property appraiser’s office in your respective county. This application need only be done once, as the homestead status will remain active unless you inform the property appraiser’s office otherwise.

Creditor Protection

If you find yourself in a significant amount of debt, you may be considering filing for bankruptcy. You likely feel pressured by your waiting creditors to sell your home and provide them with the proceeds to pay off your cumulative debts. While selling your home is an option, Florida law states that you cannot be forced to sell your home to pay off a debt if you are sued by a creditor. If you live in an unincorporated area, you can protect your home and up to half an acre of land from any forced sale. This protection also extends to anyone who inherits your home or property after you pass away. You should note that this homestead protection does not apply to those facing foreclosure, contractors’ liens, or past-due association fees. You may also be forced to sell your property in order to collect late property taxes.

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Sunrise business contracts attorney

It is not uncommon for family, friends, or business partners to come to an agreement over dinner, shake on it, and assume that everything will be taken care of. Since you have an amicable or trusting relationship with the person, you may not feel as if signing a legal contract is necessary for the work to get done. While this handshake may act as a substitute for signing on the dotted line, you may be unable to enforce this agreement if things begin to go south. For those who fall victim to such business relations, Florida legislation has addressed which oral contracts stand in court and which verbal agreements fall short in the eyes of a judge.

What Is the Statute of Frauds?

Since oral business agreements are fairly common, legislation has been put in place to note which agreements are considered invalid in a court of law. It is important to note these descriptions in the instance that you are considering going into business with a friend solely based on trust. The statute of frauds lists the following types of contracts invalid and unenforceable without the details outlined in writing and signatures from both parties:

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Sunrise business law attorney third-party-beneficiary

Everyone has experienced a time when a lunch date with a friend has evolved into a group event after bumping into someone while out to eat. This “third wheel” can hang around much longer than expected and change your plans drastically. While this is a boiled-down analogy, third-party beneficiaries within business contracts can be a similar experience. Companies signing contracts may not realize the straggling, unintended parties that may appear later down the road. Whether you are a small start-up or a well-established company seeking new business ventures, it is critical to be detail-oriented when drafting a new contract or considering signing one. The legal jargon used in these contracts as well as the high volume of content can cause some businessmen and businesswomen to sign a contract without recognizing the third parties it may bring along with it.

What Is a Third-Party Beneficiary?

Similar to the analogy used above, a third-party beneficiary is a company or business that benefits from the terms of a contract made between two other parties. These potential beneficiaries are sometimes unforeseen by the signees before putting their pen to paper. Depending on the circumstances, these third-party beneficiaries may have certain rights within the contract if the terms are not fulfilled by both signing parties.

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Broward County real estate attorney foreclosure

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, states have begun to make their own decisions regarding reopening after months of mandatory stay-at-home orders. Florida began its reopening process earlier than most and has seen a spike in its recorded cases. The state had its record high of cases on June 16, with 2,783 COVID-19 cases confirmed in a single day. With that state’s popularity as a vacation hotspot, some say that the reopening is happening sooner than it should. Florida may have begun to reopen its public spaces, but regulations remain in place to assist those struggling to pay their rent or mortgage to avoid a high number of evictions or foreclosures in the midst of a pandemic.

Financial Assistance

Governor Ron DeSantis signed the first housing executive order in early April, with an initial timeline of 45 days. According to the order, no mortgage foreclosure actions can be made for the time being. This also extends to renters who are late on rent payments. Landlords are unable to evict you from your apartment or house due to late payments during this time. However, the order strictly states that this cannot be construed as relieving homeowners or tenants from paying their mortgage or rent. Since the pandemic has lasted much longer than the 45 days allotted by Governor DeSantis, he has extended the order to last until July 1, 2020. Although the order may not completely relieve Floridians of their housing costs, it does allow them more time to earn and produce their mortgage costs or seek out additional help through loans or other means.

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Surfside bankruptcy and repossession attorney

Having your belongings taken from you is a frightening situation to imagine. If this occurs, it typically involves your most valuable assets, such as your home or car. Most people have heard the term foreclosure and understand that this means having your home taken away from you. What many may not realize is that any items you have purchased with the help of a loan can be repossessed by the lender if you fail to make payments. This can be a terrifying thought, especially if you rely on your car to get to and from work. Luckily, there are actions that you can take with the help of a skilled bankruptcy attorney to avoid such drastic measures.

How Does Repossession Work?

The term “repossession” refers to the lender reclaiming ownership over the object for which they have helped pay. This can include a house, vehicle, jewelry, furniture, or any other tangible asset that you may be in the process of paying off. Home foreclosures take a period of time and require a number of notices to be made to the owner before repossession can occur. However, vehicle repossession is not always so drawn out. Lenders are technically able to repossess items as soon as a payment is missed and do not need a court order to do so. This often involves a tow truck appearing on your driveway to take your car away. This is typically not the best option for lenders since the value of the car is less than what they would receive from you as you continue to make your payments. However, if you are delayed on multiple payments, it is not out of the question for your lender to seek payment in some form, even if that means repossessing the vehicle.

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Sunrise bankruptcy attorney

Filing for bankruptcy is often the last thing that a person wants to do, which is why many people only consider bankruptcy if they feel they have no other options. Many people may falsely believe that filing for bankruptcy means handing over everything they have. Luckily, there are two types of bankruptcy which allow individuals to choose which one works best for them and avoid losing all of their assets to pay off their debts. Since filing for bankruptcy is often a last resort, you may not be educated on the topic. If you find yourself facing financial difficulty, it is important to understand which type of bankruptcy fits your unique situation.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

This type of bankruptcy is the more well-known of the two options. Also known as liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows individuals to discharge or eliminate their outstanding debts after their bankruptcy trustee sells their property or assets to pay off as much of their debts as possible. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically only used by those who have little to no disposable income. In other words, if you do not have enough income left over after paying ongoing expenses to repay some or all of your debts, you should consider filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The court will use a Chapter 7 means test to see if you are eligible to file for this form of bankruptcy, and if you qualify, you can report the income you earn and the assets you own. Non-exempt assets will be turned over to the bankruptcy trustee to be liquidated, but there are a variety of exemptions that will allow you to keep certain property, and once the bankruptcy process is complete, you will no longer be required to pay your debts. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy should be done with the help of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can ensure that you report all income and assets properly and that your debts are fully discharged.

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Pompano Beach bankruptcy attorney CARES Act

The coronavirus pandemic has been a series of unprecedented events, one after another. The effects of the pandemic have hit the United States so hard that Congress passed the largest stimulus package in U.S. history, worth more than $2 trillion. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, is a record-breaking relief package that has helped millions of Americans, small businesses, and various levels of government. The Act was so wide-reaching that it touched many areas of American society, including the Bankruptcy Code. If you are considering filing for Bankruptcy in Florida, it is imperative that you understand the impact the CARES Act may have on your case. 

The CARES Act and Bankruptcy Cases

The most well-known portion of the Act is the part that provides for economic impact payments to many American households and individuals. The Act authorized monetary payments of up to $1,200 for people who filed an individual tax return and up to $2,400 for couples who filed a joint tax return. In addition, for each child a person or a couple has under the age of 17, they will receive an additional $500. These amounts apply to single filers whose annual income is up to $75,000 and married couples filing jointly whose income is up to $150,000.

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