Claim Your Treasure – Florida’s Treasure Hunt

If you missed the recent auction in Jacksonville of unclaimed property harvested from abandoned safe deposit boxes, you may still be able to benefit from Florida’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property.  One, attend a Florida public school—auction proceeds go into a bank account where the accumulated interest helps support public education statewide.  Or two, use the Florida Department of Financial Services website to see if you are eligible for money from a dormant account. There is no cost to make a claim and no statute of limitations on claims.   You do not need a shovel or a strong back.  From the comfort of your air-conditioned home, you can find out what treasure could be waiting for you.  Go to the State’s Division of Accounting and Auditing Bureau of Unclaimed Property website at   Read More

Solutions to Unwanted Calls

There are ways to stop unwanted calls.  One is to pay your bills on time, another is to ask debt collectors to stop calling, and the third is to register on “Do Not Call” lists.  Here are details for these options. Option 1:  Pay Your Bills On Time Generally this prevents creditors from picking up the phone in the first place; it also helps to build your credit.  BUT if that ship has already sailed… Option 2:  Ask Collectors to Stop Calling You can ask the debt collector to stop contacting you.  You still owe the debt, but you do not have to deal with all the calls and letters while you work out your repayment. Just because you owe money does not mean you lack rights. Write a letter to the debt collector or creditor asking them to stop contacting you, make a copy of that letter, and send the original to them, certified mail with “return receipt” so you will have a record of their receipt.  That should stop contact, with the exception of a communication to let you know that no further action will be taken, or a communication that they intend to take further action, like […] Read More

Good Sources for Legal Help

Unless you are a legal professional, you may not recognize the nuances of the law, some of which could work against you (and some of which could work for you).  Depending on the case, attorney involvement can avoid or reduce adverse effects of a problem, and may cause a situation to be less costly.  Furthermore, good legal advice may be more readily available than you realize and less expensive than you anticipated. Sources of competent legal advice may include: Legal Aid. Visit the Legal Aid office for your area. Even if you do not qualify for their help, they have information pamphlets which may be useful.  You can find out more online at Contact an Attorney. An initial consultation is sometimes free of charge or at a low fee, depending on the matter. Online Media. Forums such as this website offer dialogue opportunities where you can write in general questions. Remember not to share personal information in an open forum, and be sure you are communicating with a qualified legal professional. “Land Title Talk” Radio Show is on each first and third Friday from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. on 102.1 FM WFOY or online at This is the […] Read More

Courtroom Experience

The St. Johns County courtrooms are getting updated—huge TV sets are being installed.  With A/C, big TVs, and plenty of seating, the question is, which courtroom do you want for the Super Bowl? Not every person’s experience in court is as grand as a Super Bowl party.  While the courtrooms are physically comfortable, they can be an intimidating scene.  There are some very serious people who look like they know what they are doing, and there is a guy with a gun. You might not be up for this.  While you have the right to represent yourself in court, you may want to seek competent legal counsel before going in front of that big screen TV and the Judge. Attorneys remove the emotion so their clients can take the necessary steps to move through a legal problem.  A lawyer can reframe the situation into business terms to help you look at the possible choices and consequences.  Furthermore, the more you know about the legal process, the less stress you have about the unknown. If you think you cannot afford an attorney in a civil case, contact your local Legal Aid office.  Even if you do not qualify for Legal Aid, […] Read More

Happy Birthday Magna Carta

Runnymede, England is a landmark of American law.  It is where King John affixed his seal to the Magna Carta eight hundred years ago yesterday.  Today the Magna Carta shows up on mugs and t-shirts, as well as in our Bill of Rights. Handwritten in Latin in 1215, this “Great Charter of Liberties” inspired many basic rights, including due process, habeas corpus, and trial by jury.  The Magna Carta embodies the idea that no one, no matter how powerful, is above the law. Because of its big birthday this year and great influence, the American Bar Association and the Magna Carta Trust have launched a new website to tell the story of the significance of the Magna Carta.  You can view the “Magna Carta:  Icon of Liberty” website at   Read More

How To Find Hidden Treasure

Before you file bankruptcy to pay for your daughter’s wedding, the Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property may have a solution for you. You do not need a metal detector and sunscreen to search free online for dormant accounts and items left in safe deposit boxes.  There is no cost to claim it, and no statute of limitations to make a claim.  From the comfort of your air-conditioned home, you can find out what treasure could be waiting for you.  Go to the State’s Division of Accounting and Auditing Bureau of Unclaimed Property website at   Read More

Legal Lecture May 27: “Nursing Home Medicaid Eligibility for Yourself and / or Your Spouse”

Megan Wall, Managing Attorney for St. Johns County Legal Aid, will present “Nursing Home Medicaid Eligibility for Yourself And / Or Your Spouse” at Coquina Crossing Wednesday, May 27 at 11:00 a.m.  What a bargain:  the lecture is free and open to the public, and also includes lunch catered by The Bistro!  Pro bono appétit! St. Johns County Legal Aid is a local non-profit agency aiding awareness of legal rights and options in matters of debt, foreclosure, housing, elder law, family law, and many other civil subjects.  Their motto is “A Wealth of Justice for Those Who Have Neither.”   Read More

Property Taxes on a Reverse Mortgage

Yes, you have to pay property tax on a Reverse Mortgage, and insurance too. A Reverse Mortgage (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM) is for homeowners 62 or older and allows them to withdraw funds from the equity in their primary residence in a fixed monthly amount or a line of credit or a combination of both.  But the homeowner is still responsible to pay for taxes and insurance on the property. Reverse Mortgages are not right for everyone.  There are positives and negatives, but sometimes they are the best solution to help an older person live more comfortably—able to afford medicine, food, and basic living expenses.  Even if you have a Reverse Mortgage and enjoy receiving a monthly mortgage income (instead of an expense), you still have to pay your taxes and insurance.   Read More

Move Over Law Reminder

Giving elbowroom to law enforcement and emergency workers on the roadway is more than just a courtesy—it is the law. The Move Over Law is a fairly recent addition to Florida law books, put in place to help protect law enforcement officers and emergency workers as well as others on the roadway.  Violators not only put themselves and others at risk of injury or death, they can also be assessed in fines and points on their license.  According to the Florida Drivers License Handbook, this new rule of the road goes like this: On a two-lane roadway, you are required to slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less, you must slow down to five miles per hour. If you are driving on an interstate or roadway with multiple lanes of travel in the same direction, and you approach an emergency or law enforcement vehicle parked along the roadway, you must vacate the lane closest to that vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.  If you are not able to safely move over, you must slow down to […] Read More

Today is Law Day, Commemorating the Magna Carta

St. Augustine turns 450 this year, and the Magna Carta turns 800 years old.  Handwritten in Latin in 1215 England, this “Great Charter of Liberties” inspired many basic rights of America today, including due process, habeas corpus, and trial by jury.  It embodies the idea that no one, no matter how powerful, is above the law.  Thus this year’s Law Day theme is “Magna Carta:  Symbol of Freedom Under the law.” Law Day is May 1 every year.  The event officially started in 1961 to mark a commitment to the rule of law in our nation, a notion that is now eight centuries old and counting. Happy Law Day!  Happy Due Process Everyday!   Read More