Real Estate Law Article

The Basics of Platting Property

When purchasing property, it is likely that one of the documents you come across will be the plat of the property that you’ve purchased. Plats are useful tools in land planning and have been used to map and describe land and everything located on that land including lots, roads, and property boundaries. Understanding what a plat is can be helpful when you are purchasing real property that is subject to a plat. 

First, why would someone choose to plat property at all? Platting provides a number of benefits to real property owners that could otherwise be more cumbersome. Sometimes when subdividing property into a certain amount of lots, local government regulations will require that it is platted. Since the platting process is done cooperatively with local governments, the lots created by the plat will be compliant with the local government’s zoning and land development regulations. This can include minimum lot sizes, lot geometry, and lot density (density meaning the number of lots allowed per acre of land). Therefore, future purchasers of the lot won’t have to worry about their lot not conforming to local government regulations. 

There are other benefits that platting property can provide. Platting can ensure that every lot created within a plat has access to a publicly or privately maintained road so that each lot owner has access to their respective lot. It can create easements that are essential to provide electric utilities, water utilities, stormwater management, or sanitary sewer services to each lot. Platting also creates new legal descriptions for the lots, making the transfer of lots to future owners a more efficient process. 

In addition to local land development regulations, platting is also highly regulated by Florida law. Section 177, Florida Statutes, regulates platting in the State of Florida. Just a few of these regulations include the naming of plats, qualifications and statements required on plats, procedures for receiving approval on plats, and dedication requirements. 

Platting is a multi-disciplinary process that will sometimes require real property owners to engage the services of a surveyor, engineer, and attorney just to complete a plat. Each party must work in concert with local government officials in order to make sure every single local and state law is followed before a plat can be recorded in the public records. The requirements mentioned above are just a few of the many requirements necessary to record a final plat. As always, if you have questions about a plat, or think you may need to plat your own property, the best course of action is to speak with a local attorney about the best path forward. 

 Zachary Brown is an attorney with the law firm Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A. in Lakeland. Questions can be submitted to thelaw@cclmlaw.com

Estate Category

Preparing your Estate Plan During a Pandemic

As a result of the surge of COVID-19 cases throughout Florida recently, many Floridians who had not considered getting a last will and testament prepared or not previously contemplated their mortality are now seeking to get their legal affairs organized quickly. While most people only have mild symptoms of COVID-19, it does not hurt to be prepared by having your estate plan in order. I’ve always felt strongly that everyone should have at least a basic estate plan, regardless of the COVID-19 outbreak, so a person’s wishes will be honored in the event of death, incapacity or a health crisis. Having an estate plan implemented is meant to ease concerns by knowing who will be in charge and what will happen if something unexpected happens to you or your loved ones. 

As of May 1, 2020, Traditional estate planning meetings between clients and their lawyers are still occurring during the pandemic in many lawyers’ offices. Additionally, many lawyers are now offering their estate planning meetings with clients to transpire via telephonic or video conferencing instead of the common in office meeting to practice social distancing recommendations. Traditional document executions in lawyers’ offices are now taking place not only in lawyers’ offices but also in client’s homes and some documents are now even being executed remotely utilizing electronic notarization (electronic notarization for many estate planning documents became legal in Florida on January 1, 2020). 

Additionally, some individuals have turned to online legal document building websites to help them draft estate planning documents through online legal technology companies that help customers create legal documents. Florida law requires very specific requirements to draft and execute documents such as wills, deeds, powers of attorneys, health care surrogate designations and trusts so it is important to make sure proper execution procedures are followed to ensure documents are valid at execution. 

Regardless of path chosen to get estate planning documents in place, I recommend at a bare minimum for individuals age eighteen (18) or older to have a basic estate plan. A basic estate plan would include documents such as: a durable power of attorney, health care surrogate designation, living will, HIPAA release and last will and testament. It is probably also prudent to spend some of this down time at home looking at the current titling and beneficiary designations of your assets and making sure your assets are titled as you wish. 

Whenever configuring an estate plan, it’s important to meet and discuss with a qualified estate planning lawyer where you plan what will happen to each of your assets upon your death to ensure that your estate planning goals are accomplished at the time of death. 

Kevin R. Albaum is a shareholder with the law firm of Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A., in Lakeland. Questions can be submitted to thelaw@cclmlaw.com