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Everything You Need to Know About Remote Closings

With the rise of the digital age and the pandemic pushing remote opportunities farther than ever, real estate did not fall behind. Emerging digital platforms and new laws provide more flexibility than ever to potential buyers and investors in real estate. Remote closings make it so that the parties involved in a real estate transaction do not have to be physically present for the closing on their contract. Remote closings allowed for real estate transactions to continue during the COVID 19 pandemic. But despite popular belief, remote closings were allowable even before the pandemic began although not as prevalent.

What Does A ‘Remote Closing’ Mean?

To understand why remote closings are possible, one must understand the processes behind them. Once a real estate purchase reaches the closing process, there are many standard and procedural documents that must be signed and notarized. All closings require many pages of paperwork filings and signatures from all parties in a transaction. Traditionally, parties would need to sign documents and appear at a physical location at a predetermined time to have signatures verified and notarized. Many states have now adopted laws that allow for virtual signature verifications. Remote Online Notarizations (also known as RON) are the backbone of remote closings. Without Remote Online Notarizations (RON), it would not be possible to conduct a remote closing. Florida became the twenty-first state to adopt remote online notarizations. On January of 1, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 409 into law allowing for Florida to accept closings using the remote online notarization system. This came at a convenient time for Florida’s real estate market with the looming pandemic soon to be underway. This new process streamlined the closing of transactions within the State of Florida.

Who Can Benefit From Remote Closings?

Anyone can benefit from remote closings. They are especially beneficial to parties participating in transactions that are multi-state or even international. Parties are no longer restrained by differing time zones or conflicting schedules. Traveling for document notarizations can be completely eliminated should both parties chose this option. Remote closings are truly beneficial for anyone and everyone completing a real estate transaction. It makes the closing process so convenient that purchasers and buyers can remain in the comfort of their own homes to close on a property. Documents can be signed from a personal computer or mobile device such as phone or tablet.

Alternatives to RON:. RIN vs. IPEN

Some states do not accept remote online notarizations but provide other options for online notarizations.  Remote-Ink Signed Notarizations, (known as RIN), are notarizations with wet-ink signatures. Parties are able to use a video conference technology such as zoom to appear before a notary and sign documents virtually. The documents are then sent to the title company for processing. In-Person E-Notarization (also known as IPEN) are notarizations where closing documents are signed electronically but not remotely. This method merely eliminates the paper involved in signing. While this method is not technically ‘remote’ it cuts waste on paper and allows an electronic signature as an alternative to a ‘wet ink signature’.

These notarization types are not as publicly accepted as the Remote Online Notarizations because of the lack of security with the programs. The Remote Online Notarization process also has more defined guidelines and laws set in place for ease of use and security. However, the laws of some states have not yet caught up with the remote online notarizations and have instead passed emergency orders to grant  flexibility.

Laws and Capabilities

Currently, only 25 states have adopted laws for RON. Other states have passed emergency orders authorizing virtual notarizations due to COVID-19. As of February 2023, Congress is seeking to pass a law titled the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act of 2020”, or less formally known as the SECURE Notarization Act. This bill would allow notary publics to remotely notarize electronic records and perform notarizations through its entirety completely online. The bill also provides technical requirements and would ensure that all U.S. courts and states recognize and authorize remote notarizations for document processing. It has since passed the House vote and is on its way for a Senate vote. If the SECURE Notarization Act passes into law, states would have no need to extend emergency orders on online notarizations. Another advantage is that any video conferencing tools created under the emergency orders would be replaced with updated online programs offering better safeguard environments for these notarizations. This Act, however, does not supersede state laws or infringe on anyone’s choice to hold an in-person closing. Should parties choose to undergo a traditional closing in person, it is still permitted.

 

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It should be noted that I am not your lawyer (unless you have presently retained my services through a retainer agreement). This post is not intended as legal advice, it is purely educational and informational, and no attorney-client relationship shall result after reading it. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. If you do not have one and would like to retain my legal services, please contact me using the contact information listed above.

All information and references made to laws, rules, regulations, and advisory opinions were accurate based on the law as it existed at this time, but laws are constantly evolving. Please contact me to be sure that the law which will govern your business is current. Thank you.

Physician Assistants Scope of Practice Expansion in Florida

Physician Assistants Scope of Practice Expansion in Florida

Web: www.JonesHealthLaw.com
Phone: (305)877-5054
Instagram: @JonesHealthLaw
Facebook: @JonesHealthLaw
Youtube: @JonesHealthLaw
 
Just as is the case with Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, the Florida Legislature has recognized that Physician Assistants (PA) are capable of performing certain health care activities that they were previously prohibited from performing. The changes are largely administrative and does not significantly increase the independent clinical services that they may provide to a patient. On June 29, 2021, the governor approved House Bill 431, which expands the scope of practice for Physician Assistants. The provisions set forth in the House Bill 431 took effect on July 1, 2021.

Notably, the law does not permit PA to sign for medical marijuana certification, workers compensation medical examinations required to determine maximum medical improvement, and impairment ratings. Florida PA are bound by the requirements contained in Florida Statute §§458.347 and 459.022.

One of the more noteworthy changes to the law is that it deletes the requirement that a physician assistant must inform his or her patients that they have the right to see a physician before the physician assistant prescribes or dispenses a prescription (amendment to Fla. Stat. §458.347(4)(e)(1)) and Fla. Admin. Code R. 64B8-30.012.  Also, physician assistants are now authorized to procure drugs and medical devices and revising the requirements for a certain formulary (amendment to Fla. Stat. §458.347(4)(f)(1) and Fla. Admin. Code R. 64B8-30.008).

 

 

New Florida Bill Bans Storage of Health Records Outside the Continental United States, its Territories, or Canada

By: Carolina Guio

 

In May 2023, Florida House Bill 264 passed, and it will go into effect on July 1, 2023. The bill has two main parts: the first prohibits offshore health record storage, and the second requires additional ownership disclosures.

 

Prohibition of Offshore Health Record Storage

The first part of the bill is an update of the Florida Electronic Health Records Exchange Act. This amendment prohibits healthcare providers using certified health record technologies from storing electronic health records outside the continental United States, its territories, or Canada. This prohibition extends to patient data stored through third-party cloud services and subcontracted computing facilities, which must maintain the data in the continental United States, its territories, or Canada.

 

Once the ban takes effect, it will no longer be possible to use vendors that do not store patient data in the continental United States, its territories, or Canada. All healthcare providers covered by the Florida Electronic Health Records Exchange Act must comply with the law by July 1, 2023. The prohibition applies to all qualified electronic health records stored using any technology that allows information to be electronically retrieved, accessed, or transmitted.

 

This ban on offshore storage of electronic health records has significant ramifications for healthcare providers and vendors in Florida. It applies to HIPAA-regulated entities and healthcare practitioners not covered under HIPAA. Affected entities include hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, pharmacies, home health agencies, hospices, laboratories, mental health treatment facilities, substance abuse services, and licensed healthcare providers such as physicians, nurses, dentists, therapists, podiatrists, and massage therapists.

 

Vendors and subcontractors that provide support services, including managed service providers, I.T. support companies, and scheduling support providers, must also abide by this ban. They can only store or access patient information in the continental United States, its territories, or Canada. Healthcare providers must review all agreements with vendors and subcontractors to ensure compliance with updated laws. Healthcare providers should conduct an audit to confirm the locations where health records are stored to ensure compliance, including assessing storage locations, migrating data to specified regions, and establishing strict data access controls. Therefore, any contracted third parties that provide support services, and any subcontractors they use, should be prohibited from storing patient information outside the continental United States, its territories, or Canada. The healthcare provider must ensure these prohibitions are reflected in their contracts, business associate agreements, and data processing agreements. The consequences for failing to meet the Florida offshore electronic health records storage requirements will put healthcare providers at risk of legal and financial repercussions.

 

The purpose of the prohibition is to prioritize patient privacy by ensuring that personal health data remains within jurisdictions where privacy and security measures can be enforced. Offshore storage has raised concerns due to potential security breaches and varying data protection standards across countries. By mandating storage within the continental United States, its territories, or Canada, Florida aims to mitigate the risks associated with data breaches, unauthorized access, and potential exploitation of patient information. While these new regulations offer essential benefits such as increased privacy protection and informed decision-making for patients, there are also potential challenges to consider. These include increased costs for healthcare providers, technological limitations, implementation and compliance challenges, and the potential disruption of existing partnerships.

 

Ownership Disclosure Requirements

Alongside the offshore storage prohibition, Florida House Bill 264 also introduced additional ownership disclosure requirements for healthcare providers. The second part of the bill requires entities licensed by the Agency for Health Care Administration to confirm that no individual or entity with a controlling interest holds, directly or indirectly, an interest in an entity that does business with any foreign country of concern. Foreign countries of concern include the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Cuba, the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro, and the Syrian Arab Republic, including any agency of or any other entity of significant control of such foreign country of concern. These ownership disclosures aim to enhance transparency and provide patients with a clearer understanding of the affiliations and financial interests involved in their healthcare.

 

The bill aims to protect patient privacy by keeping health records within the continental United States, its territories, or Canada and promote transparency by requiring ownership disclosures. These changes aim to safeguard patient information, enhance trust between patients and healthcare providers, and improve the overall healthcare system in Florida.

 

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It should be noted that I am not your lawyer (unless you have presently retained my services through a retainer agreement). This post is not intended as legal advice, it is purely educational and informational, and no attorney-client relationship shall result after reading it. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. If you do not have one and would like to retain my legal services, please contact me using the contact information listed above.

All information and references made to laws, rules, regulations, and advisory opinions were accurate based on the law as it existed at this time, but laws are constantly evolving. Please contact me to be sure that the law which will govern your business is current. Thank you.

 

Carolina Guio is our 2023 Summer Intern

Carolina Guio will be joining Jones Health Law as our 2023 Summer Intern. Currently, she attends Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad College of Law and is expected to graduate in December 2023.

Internships at Jones Health Law are designed to give our interns the tools that they will need to successfully practice law once they graduate from law school.

Here are a few things that you should know about Carolina:

Where are you from?

I am originally from Colombia.

When did you move to America?

I moved to the United States full time in 2004.

Why did you decide to go to Law School?

I started my law school journey back in Colombia. After many years of working in the legal field as a paralegal it felt like a natural next step to pursue my law degree here in the US.

What interests you about Health Law?

I find Health Law an interesting area of the law because it is ever evolving.

What are you hoping to gain from this internship?

Health Law is a very niche and specialized area of law so I am excited to have the opportunity to gain direct exposure and knowledge from an expert in the field.

Welcome to the Jones Health Law Team, Carolina. We are very happy to have  you with us!

Jamaal Jones Is Interviewed by Newsweek Magazine on South Florida Nursing Diploma Scandal

Recently Jamaal Jones was interviewed by Newsweek Magazine regarding the nursing diploma scandal surrounding various nursing schools. 

In late January, 25 individuals were arrested for their role in providing fraudulent diplomas to students enrolled in 4 schools.  Jamaal Jones is working with victims affected by the fraudulent actions of those in ownership of the schools caught up in the FBI Investigation. This investigation has had an overwhelmingly negative impact on the lives and careers of the unknowing nurses. Mr. Jones has set out to prove his clients are educated, certified, and have dedicated their lives to providing care for others. Jamaal is working tirelessly to clear their names and reputation and maintain their licenses and ability to provide care to their community.

Click here to read the full interview

What is a Homestead Exemption and Do I Qualify?

The Homestead Exemption Explained

In many states, homeowners have the option of using what’s called a Homestead Exemption to reduce the amount of property tax owed on their home per year. The exemption is a property tax break that lowers the taxable value of a home. Property taxes are assessed by the local taxing authority and are calculated based on the assessed value of the property and location. The Homestead Exemption also serves as a provision to protect against bankruptcy and creditors in the event of a homeowner’s passing. The exemption provides surviving spouses with continued lower tax and asset rates. The allowable Homestead Exemption differs based on which State the primary residence is in and does not lower or affect the assessed value of a home. In some states, a homeowner needs to meet certain requirements (age requirements, be a disabled person or a veteran, etc) to qualify for a Homestead Exemption. In Florida, the exemption is available to all homeowners on their primary residence. The Homestead Exemption can reduce the taxable property value by as much as $50,000 a year.

How Do You Know How Much Will be Exempt?

In Florida, there is a tiered system to the Homestead Exemption. The tiers are determined by every $25,000 of a property’s value. The first $25,000 of a home’s assessed value is fully exempt from property taxes. The second $25,000 value is taxed in full. The third $25,000 of a home’s assessed value is exempt from all but school and district tax liability. The fourth $25,000+  is fully taxable. For instance, if a home is valued at $110,000 the first $25,000 is tax free. The second $25,000 is taxable at the full rate. The third $25,000 is exempt except for school & district taxes and the remaining $35,000 are fully taxable. That means this home has a tax liability on $60,000 of the home’s assessed value (plus the school and district taxes). Taxpayers can maximize the tax credit on their primary residence by up to $50,000 a year by applying for this exemption.

Who Qualifies for a Homestead Exemption?

There are very few limiting factors for Florida homeowners who want to apply for a Homestead Exemption. A Homestead Exemption is only allowable for a homeowners primary residence. As the name implies, a primary residence is a home that a homeowner takes occupancy for the majority of the year. The Homestead Exemption is not allowable to a second home or an investment property. To qualify for a Homestead Exemption you must (1) be the property owner,  (2) have lived in the home as of January 1 of the qualifying tax year, and (3) not rent your home for more than 30 calendar days. Renting a property for more than 30 days in 2 consecutive years is considered abandonment of the Homestead Exemption.

Mobile homes can also qualify for a Homestead Exemption as long as the home itself and the land it sits on is owned by the homeowner. The mobile home must be permanently affixed to the land and the homeowner must obtain a Real Property (RP) decal for the home.

Can I Transfer My Homestead Exemption?

If a Florida homeowner moves from one Florida homestead to another Florida homestead, their exemption is not transferable. However, a Florida homeowner obtaining a new homestead in Florida can use a Portability Amendment to limit the increase of the new home’s taxable value. The homeowner can do this by applying for the Save Our Homes Assessment Limitation. The Save Our Homes (SOH) assessment allows homeowners who have previously qualified for a Homestead Exemption to limit the annual increase in the assessed value of a homestead property to 3%. To apply for this, the homeowner must submit a Form DR-501T along with the new Homestead Exemption before March 15th.

Are There Any Other Property Tax Exemptions Available?

There are additional benefits for the elderly, veterans and disabled persons that can be used on top of the Homestead Exemption. The elderly have a Long Time Limited Income Senior Discount available to those 65 and older who have resided in Florida for over 25 years. Income conditions exist for this tax credit. Deployed service members may also qualify for a credit based on the amount of time they were deployed in a given year. Various disabilities also qualify for an additional credit if a homeowner had qualified for the Homestead Exemption.

The application for a Homestead Exemption and all other credits can be done online or by mail. The form required for the Homestead Exemption is a DR-501 and can be found on the Miami Dade Government site along with information on the other tax breaks available. See below for link to information on the allowable credits and forms:

https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser1470859973470816

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It should be noted that I am not your lawyer (unless you have presently retained my services through a retainer agreement). This post is not intended as legal advice, it is purely educational and informational, and no attorney-client relationship shall result after reading it. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. If you do not have one and would like to retain my legal services, please contact me using the contact information listed above.

All information and references made to laws, rules, regulations, and advisory opinions were accurate based on the law as it existed at this time, but laws are constantly evolving. Please contact me to be sure that the law which will govern your business is current. Thank you.

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