Construction Law & Litigation

Construction Law & Litigation

With one of the largest, dedicated teams of Board Certified Construction attorneys, Becker’s Construction Law Practice Group is well-known nationally for its knowledge of the construction industry and experience effectively protecting the interests of its clients. Practice Group Chair Steven Lesser is Past Chair of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Construction Law, the largest organization of constructional lawyers with over 6,000 construction professionals around the world. He also previously served as Chair of the Florida Bar Construction Law Certification Committee that prepares and administers an examination, evaluates peer review to determine those construction lawyers to be Board Certified by the Florida Bar.

The firm has handled numerous and varied construction-related cases, many of which have involved complex delay issues with a multitude of defendants, and scores of construction defects. Our construction attorneys represent clients in both transactions and disputes ranging from single- and multi-family dwellings to large commercial buildings, planned unit developments, multi-use retail, industrial and governmental projects.

Chambers USA has recognized the firm’s Construction group every year it has published its global law firm ranking guide. A ranking in “Band 1” by Chambers indicates the very top of the field according to clients and peers. Excerpts from Chambers include: “Highly regarded team renowned for its condominium association work and expertise in representing owners, developers, and contractors. Impressive involvement in public-private partnership matters, and experience in construction defect claims. It also provides a full suite of other construction services such as licensing, insurance, government procurement contracts and surety work. Sources say: “They have a deep construction practice and handle major projects. In every dealing I’ve had with them, I’ve come out thinking that they are top tier.” “Highly professional with the personnel and resources to handle any matter.” “The team has an undisputed reputation for residential construction matters and is increasingly involved in commercial cases… regularly representing owners, developers, sureties and contractors, the group is particularly knowledgeable on condominium projects”. Chambers continued, the firm “represented Carnival Corporation in defense of significant damage claims exceeding $3 million. The firm also represents Swire Properties in the design and construction of Brickell City Centre in Miami which is the largest mixed use project Florida. AECOM and Zurich Surety are among the group’s other key clients.”

Corporate

Becker’s Corporate Practice Group takes pride in becoming part of our clients’ business team. We make it a priority to understand our clients’ operations and strategy, and develop solutions from a business and as well as a legal and regulatory perspective. Our clients look to us to quarterback their transactions and focus on closing. We consider your success, our success.

Transactional Practice

  • In-House Counsel Services for public and private companies
  • Corporate Governance
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Employment Agreements and executive compensation
  • Broker-Dealer and Investment Advisor Regulatory
  • Private Funds
  • Asset Protection, Wealth and Business Preservation
  • Intellectual Property
  • SEC Disclosure and Securities Regulation

Financing Practice

  • Capital Markets
  • Private Equity
  • Reverse Acquisitions

Regulatory Proceedings

  • FINRA and SEC proceedings, inquiries and on the record interviews
  • Securities Arbitrations

Tax

  • Corporate Transactions
  • Individual Income Tax Planning
  • Tax Controversy

Government Law & Lobbying

Government Law and Lobbying – at the state level in Florida and the federal level in Washington – has been a core practice for Becker since its founding in 1973. Our team of lawyers and lobbyists includes several who have served in high-level government positions and distinguished themselves in the political and legislative arenas and in state, local and federal government. Our team includes former and current city attorneys, former and current elected officials, former legislative aides to Florida legislators, former chiefs of staff to U.S. Congressmen in Washington, D.C., and campaign managers for a myriad of elected officials. This first-hand working knowledge of government, at every level, provides clients with valuable insights and understanding of the legislative, administrative, and regulatory processes, and helps clients navigate the maze of government.

The racial, ethnic, gender and political diversity of our lobbying team provides our clients with the distinct advantage of working with an array of legislators from both sides of the aisle as well as the various caucuses. The team’s varied relationships and knowledge of different issues offers clients new opportunities for coalition building with like-minded groups and connections to lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. This diversity, along with the backing of over 130+ lawyers and other professionals throughout the firm, is part of our formula for success. The Becker team enjoys the resources of being part of a large law firm but operates like a “boutique” lobbying practice, providing clients with personal attention and “on call” availability. Like all highly functioning teams, our team members rely on each other’s unique set of political contacts, knowledge of various issues, and political intelligence to best serve the client in a collaborative way.

 

 

Elder Law, Trust & Estate Planning, Probate

Elder Law

Becker helps elderly individuals, wartime veterans, and their surviving spouses retain or qualify for public benefits, Medicaid benefits and veterans’ benefits to help pay for the extraordinary cost of long-term care. Our planning includes helping families to avoid probate and guardianship issues, whenever possible.

A. MEDICAID

1. Medicaid Planning Strategies

Many families find themselves in this predicament: Not knowing where to turn for assistance to help pay for the extraordinary cost of long-term care. There is help, and it is in the form of Medicaid.

Currently, Florida provides two different programs for individuals who are 65 years or older and meet the additional qualifications that can significantly defray the cost of long-term care either at home, in an assisted-living facility or even in a skilled-nursing facility (nursing home). Those programs are called the Home and Community Based Waiver Program and the Institutional Care Program (ICP). While each program has the same eligibility requirements, the programs offer different benefits. The Home and Community Based Waiver Program provides benefits to individuals who are either at home or in assisted living facilities. The ICP program pays for almost all nursing homes including the finest of facilities.

Using legal and government approved planning strategies, many families find that despite their belief or what they have been told they can actually qualify and receive the benefits that Medicaid offers, without creating a five-year look-back period. This allows savings and other assets to be used to better their loved one’s care.

In the words of one court, “No agency of the government has any right to complain about the fact that middle-class people confronted with desperate circumstances choose [to do Medicaid asset protection planning] when it is the government itself which has established the rule that poverty is a prerequisite to the receipt of government assistance in the defraying of the costs of ruinously expensive, but absolutely essential medical treatment.

2. Medicaid Program Planning and Process

If you want to learn more about these programs, we can help you. With our experience, we can guide your family through the Medicaid planning and processes to make a significant difference in the lives of you or your loved ones. Call us for an initial consultation to learn if our planning and strategies can work for you.

B. VETERANS’ BENEFITS

1. Veterans’ Benefits Programs

There is help through the Veteran’s Administration.

There is a little-known program through the VA that is offered to wartime veterans, veteran’s spouses and/or a veteran’s surviving spouse that provides a monthly, tax-free benefit to assist with the cost of long-term care. This program is called the Aid and Attendance Enhanced Pension Benefit. The veteran does not have to have service-related disabilities to qualify. Veterans or surviving spouses are eligible if they require the aid of another person to perform everyday actions, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, or going to the bathroom. This includes individuals who are bedridden, blind, or residing in a nursing home.

So, if you or your spouse served at least one day during one of the following wartimes, had 90 days of continuous military service, and were discharged from a branch of the Armed Forces under conditions that were not dishonorable, you may be eligible for this additional pension.

Wartime Periods

  • World War I: April 6, 1917 — November 11, 1918
  • World War II: December 7, 1941 — December 31, 1946
  • Korean War: June 27, 1950 — January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 — through May 7, 1975
  • (February 28, 1961 for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964)
  • Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990 through date to be set by the Presidential Proclamation or Law.

The additional pension that you may be entitled to receive is as follows:

  • Single Veteran: $1,788 per month or $21,466 a year
  • Veteran with Spouse: $2,120 per month or $25,448 a year
  • Surviving Spouse: $1,149 per month or $13,794 a year

Although there are financial requirements to qualify for this additional benefit, many elderly veterans and surviving spouses who believe they cannot qualify actually can with the assistance of an experience elder law attorney. However, the Aid and Attendance benefit is almost never enough to fully pay the long-term care bill, therefore Medicaid is also a necessity. Transferring assets to reduce the net worth below the VA limit can result in being ineligible for Medicaid benefits for months or even years.

2. Experienced VA Benefits Law Firm

It is therefore extremely important that an attorney who is experienced in both Medicaid and VA Benefits law be consulted before any assets are purchased or property is transferred to become eligible for VA Benefits. Becker is experienced in both obtaining VA benefits and preserving the right to also qualify for Medicaid benefits, which will provide thousands of dollars each year to help pay for the significant cost of long-term care.

C. INCAPACITY PLANNING

Becker helps our clients and their families prepare for and progress through the hardships and turmoil of the third stage of life by providing incapacity planning. Because we know the emotional and physical difficulties of aging, our firm is dedicated to bringing this much-needed service to all elderly individuals and their families.

1. Legal Documents Every Adult Should Have

  • Durable Power of Attorney
    • A power of attorney is a grant of authority to act for another person. A power of attorney is usually given to handle health care, financial and/or legal matters. The person giving the power is called the “principal” and the person receiving is the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.” A power of attorney imposes a duty of ethical representation of the principal by the agent.
  • Living Will and Health Care Surrogate
    • These are two different forms, but they serve similar purposes. A living will expresses your preferences about treatments should you be terminal and unable to communicate with your family and doctors. Whether it is your wish to not be kept alive by extraordinary means or if you want your life prolonged by any means available, for as long as possible, no matter what your condition, you can make your decision clear. A healthcare surrogate gives someone else the power to make healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated, however not terminal. While these are difficult issues to think about and discuss, these documents help simplify any tough decisions your family and friends may have to make if something happens to you.
  • Designation of Pre-Need Guardian
    • A pre-need guardian becomes necessary if you are determined to be incapacitated and the court insists that you have a guardian. This could happen if you become mentally or physically disabled and are no longer able to manage your financial affairs, your property or your health. With this document, you choose who would be appointed as your guardian, as opposed to allowing a court to do it.
  • Living Will & Testament
    • This is your Will, which distributes your possessions after you are gone. If you should die without one, the court will decide who gets what. This document should also be written by a lawyer if you want to be sure your instructions will be implemented.
  • Revocable Living Trust
    • The Revocable Living Trust designates who will receive your assets after your death, or after the death of your spouse. The Revocable Living Trust can be used to minimize the necessity for Probate Administration and also to support your spouse and/or kids during your lifetime or after your death. The Revocable Living Trust is always revocable (or can be changed) during your lifetime and becomes irrevocable at your death to ensure that your wishes are followed.

D. SPECIAL NEEDS

1. Special Needs Benefits, Estate and Asset Planning

Our attorneys know firsthand the emotional struggles and economic decisions that need to be made to ensure that children and adults with special needs receive all they require and deserve. Individuals with Special Needs are eligible for certain government benefits, such as SSI, SSDI, Medicaid and Medicare to assist them with housing costs, food costs, and health insurance.

 

Probate

Our attorneys have experience in all aspects of probate including disputes among beneficiaries, will contests, challenges to personal representatives, challenges to rights of beneficiaries, construction of wills and other testamentary documents, fee disputes, estate tax litigation, fraud and undue influence claims, incompetency claims and all other matters that may arise relating to probate or trust administration.

Are you a personal representative or a beneficiary of an estate?

Whether or not the decedent had a will, the primary way to transfer assets from the name of the deceased to the beneficiaries is to go through the probate process. Probate, the court’s oversight of the distribution of the estate’s assets, is generally needed to gain access to bank accounts or to re-title real property. This process may seem simple, but it can often touch on sensitive family issues and become difficult to manage. In general, this process should never be attempted without an attorney’s assistance.

Becker works with clients as well as with out-of-state heirs and personal representatives to ensure that all aspects of estate administration come to resolution as quickly as possible. We understand the need to handle these matters delicately and promptly, and we offer the proper guidance to our clients throughout this complicated yet necessary process. We are typically called upon to handle:

  • Full, Summary and Ancillary proceedings
  • Identification and collection of the decedent’s assets
  • Preparation of Federal Estate Tax Returns
  • Trust administration

 

Trust & Estate Planning

Becker’s Trust & Estate Planning attorneys have strong credentials and deep experience in this highly specialized area of the law. The firm serves clients’ needs in the following areas:

  • Structuring estate, gift, income and generation-skipping plans through wills, trusts, family-limited partnerships, qualified personal residence trusts, grantor-retained annuity trusts, charitable lead and annuity trusts, charitable remainder trusts, and private foundations and gift-giving programs intended to reduce estate taxes.
  • Creating disability plans through the use of revocable trusts and powers of attorney for asset management and medical directives for health care management.
  • Planning for special circumstances including second or later marriages, same-sex couples, multi-generational wealth transfer, charitable giving and trusts for beneficiaries with special needs.
  • Offshore estate planning for U.S. and foreign individuals.
  • Advising the owners of closely held businesses, including the preparation of shareholders’ and partnership agreements, reorganization, dissolution and transferring ownership to children and other family members.
  • Working with personal representatives and successor trustees. regarding all aspects of probate and trust administration.
  • Representing beneficiaries of estates and trusts.
  • Providing guidance to U.S. taxpayers on the U.S. federal income tax and the non-U.S. tax consequences of doing business or making investments abroad.

Public, Private Partnerships (P3)

Continued downward pressure on government budgets combined with mounting need for improvements to roads, sewers, schools and other public assets creates business opportunities for private companies to partner with public entities to fill that void. Public, Private Partnerships (P3) are mutually advantageous arrangements allowing public needs to be met with private financing, ingenuity and experience and permits the public sector to transfer some of the risks of such projects to the private sector.

Becker established its Public, Private Partnership practice team with attorneys having proven public and private sector knowledge, experience and contacts in order to assist governmental entities and businesses seeking to partner on public facilities in overcoming dwindling government funds and ever-increasing demands for improved roads, sewers, schools, civic buildings and other public assets.

Becker’s P3 team has long standing experience representing governmental entities and private sector governmental vendors. Representative projects include Louisiana State University’s P3 development of the Nicholson Gateway, a residential hall/mixed use, multi-phase project estimated at approximately $400 million. Other P3 representations include projects at the University of Central Florida and Bethune Cookman University (a private development following the P3 model). The firm is currently engaged on P3 projects such as the Wet N Wild water park in Fort Lauderdale, the Broward County Convention Center Hotel and Nova Southeastern University’s residential hall (another private development following the P3 model). The firm represents both public and private sector participants, so we are adept at anticipating issues and concerns our client’s partners may have and we can offer early solutions.

Real Estate

Real Estate law has been a core practice for Becker since its founding in 1973. The firm’s Real Estate attorneys have helped shape the local landscape through representation of developers of multi-family and single-family residential communities; business and property owners; and financial institutions. We have represented clients in the successful acquisition, financing, development and sale of all types of unimproved land and improved properties for residential and commercial use, including large land assemblages, major office buildings and office parks, shopping malls and centers, luxury hotels and resorts, condominiums and multi-family housing projects.

We help guide clients through the full cycle of a real estate transaction from the creation of the entity through the acquisition of land, governmental approvals including land use planning and zoning, entitlements and variances, environmental matters, title insurance matters, financing, permitting, construction and completion issues, leasing, property management and disposition. As the economy has fluctuated, our attorneys have assisted clients with loan workouts of real estate assets, title disputes and Real Estate Owned (REO) assets.

We represent institutional investors and lenders, asset servicing companies, regional and national developers, owners including governments and corporate users in structuring and implementing complex real estate transactions, such as the development of major residential and corporate real estate projects, and creating special taxing districts. We serve the needs of lending institutions in regard to all types of real-estate-based financing transactions, as well as protecting the interests of such lending institutions in foreclosures and bankruptcies. Our attorneys have handled large, multi-parcel real estate transactions, and are knowledgeable in all aspects of sales and acquisition of property. Becker also serves as a registered agent for most major state and national title insurance companies.

We represent regional and national financial institutions in real estate and asset-based business loan transactions including advice and legal representation in all aspects of the transaction from commitment letter terms to loan closing, loan documentation, structure of loan terms, insurance and post closing matters.

Community Association

Becker grew out of its pioneering role creating the law pertaining to the operation of common ownership housing. Many of the leading cases in the field bear the firm’s name. Our attorneys are recognized as individual leaders in the field through published works, public service, legislative activities, and industry group leadership positions. Several attorneys are members of the prestigious College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL). In Florida, Becker has the largest, dedicated team of Board Certified attorneys in Condominium and Planned Development Law among any firm in the state.

The attorneys in the Community Association Law Practice Group cover the entire spectrum of legal counseling of condominium, cooperative, time shares and homeowners’ associations. In addition, the practice group provides counseling to country clubs, master associations and owners’ ad hoc committees. Each attorney plays an integral part in their client’s professional team – assisting the Board and management prepare for and conduct meetings, answering questions about documents and the pertinent law, enforcing the covenants and restrictions, and drafting and negotiating contracts for the provision of services.

Each client is assigned a Community Association attorney who is primarily responsible for providing legal counsel to the officers and directors, as well as the manager, on the operation of the association. The association’s attorney also serves as a liaison between the client and other attorneys in the firm to ensure that all the association’s legal needs are being met by attorneys who practice exclusively in those specialized areas.

Business Litigation

Becker represents clients in complex business litigation throughout the United States in federal and state courts, and in arbitrations. Approximately half of the firm’s attorneys are full-time litigators, experienced in a range of litigation including corporate governance, breach of contract, real estate acquisition, intellectual property (including trade secret, copyright and patent infringement), non-competition and employment agreements, employment discrimination, bankruptcy, bid protests, land use, class actions and appeals. We represent government entities, publicly traded corporations, insurance companies, financial institutions, developers, entrepreneurs, contractors, design professionals, small businesses and individuals.

Our lawyers are widely recognized by their peers in the profession for their achievement. As an example, many of Becker’s Florida litigators are Board Certified by the Florida Bar and noted experts in their practice areas including Business Litigation, Civil Trial, Appellate, and Construction Law.