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Our local Alachua County Property Appraiser website (http://www.acpafl.org/exemptionslist.

Resolved Question:

Our local Alachua County Property Appraiser website (http://www.acpafl.org/exemptionslist.html ) notes that applicants with legal OR equitable title to property by January 1 of the current year may apply for homestead exemption that same year by March 1. I researched legal and/or equitable title here (http://www.insuranceforinvestors.com/2011/06/legal-title-versus-equitable-title/). Equitable title seems to be defined as actual enjoyment and use of the property, which they had by Jan 1. Am I right to dispute their finding of non-homestead property, since they had equitable title by Jan 1 and then legal title within the filing deadline of March 1.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Pro replied 1 year ago.

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Are you talking about yourself who have been denied the homestead exemption?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's a long story but I used to only the house (as a single person, no joint tenancy, co-ownership, etc). My parents have been living there since 2011, and have been the only ones living there after I moved out early 2012. I moved and transferred the legal title to them (via life estate deed) in February.

I realize that Feb is after the Jan 1 deadline for legal ownership but I am honing in on the equitable title part from their own policy. If they were living there, maintaining the property, had all the rights, privileges and enjoyment of the property by Jan 1, does that constitute equitable title... Please clarify equitable title for me.
Expert:  Law Pro replied 1 year ago.
"Equitable title" is a legal theory or doctrine.


Equitable title is the right to obtain full ownership of property, where another maintains legal title to the property. Legal title is actual ownership of the property. When a contract for the sale of land is executed, equitable title passes to the buyer upon the signing of the contract - they are the "equitable owner" although the legal title owner still owns the property as per the deed. When the conditions on the sale contract have been met, legal title passes to the buyer in what is known as closing. Legal and equitable title also arises in trust. In a trust, one person may own the legal title, such as the trustees. Another may own the equitable title such as the beneficiary.


You stated:

I moved and transferred the legal title to them (via life estate deed) in February.


They became "legal title" owners in February.

However, because there wasn't a contract for sale of the property to them nor was the property held in a trust whereby they were the "beneficiaries" of the trust - they did NOT have equitable title or ownership in the property.

The legal definition for "equitable title" is:

(1) The interest held by one who has agreed to purchase property but has not yet closed.

(2) The title held by a trust beneficiary, because the trustee has legal title but the law recognizes the beneficiary as having rights.

[thefreedictionary.com]


So, regretfully, unless you can come up with documentation that they were buying the property from you pursuant to contract OR that the property was held in a trust - they were not equitable owners.


Sorry.

I realize that this answer may not be entirely to your liking, and I regret being the bearer of information that you really don’t want to hear. But it would be unfair to you and unprofessional of me were I to provide you with anything less than truthful and honest information. I hope you understand.
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