Condo Living: Can the board fine me for property violations? – TCPalm
Steven J. Adamczyk Esq. is a shareholder of the law Firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross.(Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)
Editor’s note: Attorneys at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC, respond to questions about Florida community association law. The firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner association law, real estate law, litigation, estate planning and business law.
Q: I transferred my home to my revocable trust a few years ago. The Board is trying to fine me for property violations. Can the Board fine me individually when my trust owns the property?
— D.R., Treasure Coast
A: It is impossible to answer the question without first reviewing your trust agreement, but the likely answer is yes.
A revocable trust is an estate planning tool in which you retain all ownership and control during your lifetime, and when you die, the trust assets avoid probate. There are several other reasons to use a revocable trust, but if you do have complete ownership and control of the trust during your lifetime, there generally is no additional asset protection. This is a common misperception but the law considers you and the revocable trust to be the same person because there is no separation of ownership or control.
After death, a trust can set up asset protections and spendthrift protections that can be very useful to preserve wealth for generations. During your lifetime, an irrevocable trust could provide you with some of the asset protections you are looking for, but this protection is accompanied by a loss of control and ownership and potential gift tax consequences.
In other words, if you are using the traditional revocable lifetime trust to hold title to the property and you are in violation of the covenants, the Association would be