St. Petersburg beach owner was arguing with the local government about potential uses for his property.

Mar 4, 2020 3:00 AM ET

What is the best way for him to preserve ownership rights for his family?

Estate planning is extremely useful for those with a large amount of assets and property who want to control how it is used during the late stages of their life and afterward. Having the right legal documentation can help keep anyone from the local government to dishonest family members from taking what does not belong to them.


St. Petersburg beachfront property causes disputes with the local government

A man who purchased his beachfront property in 1972 was engaged in a dispute with the local government in St. Pete beach regarding public access to property that he owned.

The conflict essentially started when the local government had openly encouraged the public to trespass on the owner’s property through an easement, or right of access. However, the owner never actually agreed to this and there seemed to be no formal proof that a right of access had ever existed. A federal appeals court ruled that the owner will have to be compensated over $1 million by the local government. The verdict stated that the government essentially seized the property illegally by encouraging the public to use the area without permission.  

The state legislature had passed a law in the months before the decision which prevents the government from creating any kind of right of access to the public for beaches that are owned privately. Other private owners throughout the state of Florida may have similar disputes and be awarded large amounts in the coming years. Municipalities are concerned that these decisions can hurt taxpayers in the future. Further appeals are unlikely, as the current decision already cited precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court which stated that local governments cannot use or create access to privately owned beaches without specific permission from the owner. 


Issues with the use and distribution of property

It is common for someone to have their real property or assets used in unintended ways after they die if they have not consulted with an estate planning lawyer. In a situation like the news story above, the owner can set up a trust or other legally binding documentation that will say how the property can be used, even after death. Estate planning is also a significant way to keep the government from taking assets that should remain in your family or be used for charitable purposes. This type of advance planning is crucial for those intending to ensure that property is used in a consistent manner for multiple generations.


Learn more about estate planning

To get help from an estate planning lawyer in St. Petersburg or surrounding areas, contact Baby Boomers’ Barrister. You will receive advice regarding trusts, wills, and other documents that can give specific directions regarding how property is used or distributed.

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St. Petersburg Office
100 2nd Avenue South Suite 704S
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 565-4250

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