Sean Ryan CPCU, AIC loves what he does and it shows. Caring, concern for every client and a desire to exceed expectations is the foundation Sean has built his insurance and financial services business, BRP Ryan Insurance, LLC, on for the past 21 years. In the process, his firm has grown into two offices, 14 employees and a long list of satisfied clients, many with him from the beginning, including ShuffieldLowman’s own Janet Martinez.
While the firm has a long history in DeLand, BRP Ryan Insurance is a fairly new name, stemming from a partnership in 2017 with Baldwin Risk Partners (BRP), located in Tampa. The partnership allowed Ryan Insurance to enhance services for the firm’s clients and offer a broader geographical reach. Today the firm’s DeLand and Clermont offices provide a wide variety of options, including full-service personal, family and business insurance plans along with life insurance, annuities, mutual funds and securities investing.
What makes BRP Ryan Insurance special is a commitment to service that starts with an unrelenting quest for the best rates and coverage possible and continues with open and available communication. This includes a welcoming receptionist, at the ready to answer your calls and a team of professionals to address questions, assist with claims and plan ahead for needs and opportunities. Recently, the firm has found that connecting via social media, blogging and newsletters offers an excellent channel for sharing helpful hints, tips, videos and other useful information of value to clients.
Another rare competitive advantage offered by the firm is the fact that immediately prior to starting his firm, Sean worked for 9 years as a claim adjuster, so he knows the insurance business from the inside-out. This combined with his work as an expert witness, for both plaintiffs and the defense, and his understanding of the litigation process gives him a unique perspective when it comes to advocating on behalf of his clients, when the need arises.
According to ShuffieldLowman partner Janet Martinez, “Sean Ryan has been my go-to for insurance matters for almost 20 years. Not only does he have a caring staff that is quick and very responsive, Sean never hesitates to offer a personal assist for any insurance need I may have for our clients or myself. We first met while serving together on the St. Barnabas Episcopal School Board many years ago, and his commitment to community service carries forward to this day. He has a keen eye for doing what is right for both his clients and our community. It is a real pleasure doing business with him.”
ShuffieldLowman and Janet Martinez have worked with BRP Ryan Insurance in a variety of ways, including serving as their registered agent, record keeper and general counsel for more than 20 years. The firm has also assisted with buy/sell agreements, enforcement of non-compete’s, litigation, asset purchases and has provided estate planning services to Sean through the years.
Often times borrowers when they are going into real estate transaction will require additional collateral so if they can’t qualify for a loan with the real estate they have they will go ahead and look for other asset to then go ahead and qualify for that loan. It’s my job to figure out whether or not those assets will be secured enough for the backing of that loan. So as attorneys when we enter into the transaction we’re looking at the due diligence to ensure that both the borrower and lender that the collateral is going to work and provide the backing that the loan needs. So for example for a traditional real estate transaction the real estate would secure the loan. In this case we looked to other assets like are arts, even yachts or traditional things like accounts receivable, or service contracts. All those things can be considered by a lender when they’re looking at a borrower’s assets. There are a lot of options when it comes to structuring financing and as counselors it is our job to provide our clients thorough due diligence review to ensure that any assets including illiquid or nontraditional assets have the backing of the structure that the transaction requires. The bottom line is if you have non-traditional assets you can still secure that loan.
A very important component of any real estate transaction is the review of a current survey no more than 90 days old of the subject property. I’m going to discuss three aspects that I think are particularly important when reviewing a survey prior to closing a transaction.
Legal Description. The legal description on the face of the survey should be identical to the legal description on the title commitment and the closing documents, particularly the deed conveying the subject property. Any discrepancy between the legal description on the survey and the legal description on the deed of conveyance or title commitment could potentially lead to a title defect. In addition, its good practice to make sure the calls and the written legal description match the calls identified on the face of the survey. Any discrepancies or problems with the legal description should be resolved prior to closing and a survey can assist in identifying those issues.
Title Commitment. Typically with any real estate transaction, a title commitment is a obtained during the due diligence period. The title commitment is important because it will reveal any publicly recorded easement or encumbrances that affect the subject property. The surveyor should be provided a copy of the title commitment and exception documents so that he or she can locate those easements on the survey. Depicting on the survey the location of any easements encumbering subject property assists in determining whether such location impacts the intended use of a subject property.
Encroachments and Access. Often times encroachments and access are items not included in the public records. Therefore, it’s important to pay close attention to these items when reviewing the survey Common examples of encroachments are fences and driveways. A more serious type of encroachment is of a building or structure. If the survey does reveal an encroachment determination must be made whether that encroachment can be relocated and whether there are any prescriptive rights associated with the encroachment. Finally, if the subject property has access to a publicly dedicated right away the survey should verify that. Review of a survey is a vital component to any real estate transaction. A survey can help identify problematic issues that must be resolved prior to closing a transaction to avoid problems in the future. Therefore, I highly recommend obtaining a survey prior to closing any real estate transaction whether commercial or residential
If you are a beneficiary of a trust or estate and you have a trustee or a personal representative that it’s not doing a good job you may be able to remove him or her under Florida law. A personal representative and trustee called fiduciaries have an obligation to diligently and fairly administer the estate or trust according to Florida law. A fiduciary cannot self-deal, nor favor one beneficiary over another. As a beneficiary of a trust, the trustee must give you an accounting at least once a year of the trust assets. If you are not being reasonably informed of what’s going on, you should do something to enforce your rights so that you can have the information you need to understand what’s going on in the estate administration or the trust administration. Also, if the trustee in the trust administration is not fulfilling their fiduciary duties and has committed a serious breach fiduciary duty, you are entitled to seek their removal under Florida law. The trust code also allows you to seek recovery of your attorneys’ fees either from the trust or from the trustee individually.
If you are a personal representative, trustee, or a beneficiary, and you’re having a legal issue ShuffieldLowman has a very experienced fiduciary litigation department that can help you. We will work very hard to try to solve your legal problem.
Over the last few years there has been a significant increase in the amount of construction activity in Florida. And you have these developers who are typically entering in a construction contracts that are proposed by their general contractor clients and often times those forms unfairly shift the risks that can arise on a project to the owner. And these owners are strongly advised to have an expert in construction law review these construction contracts to modify them to more equitably allocate the risk between the parties. Even if the parties are using a standard AIA document. They are still advised to review and modify them in order to make sure that they comply with Florida law (Florida statutes) and to address project specific issues. For example, in the AIA documents the indemnity provisions are arguably enforceable under Florida Statute § 725.06.
Another result of the increase of construction activity in Florida is that you have premier subcontracting trades being able to be more selective in which projects they are going to work on. As a result, they are pushing back on the more onerous provisions that are in they are standard subcontract forms with the general contractors. They’re able to use their long history of high-quality work to leverage better terms in those standard subcontract agreements. Conversely, general contractors now are unable to always use their first choice of a subcontractor and as a result they are sometimes forced to use a lower quality sub to the greater likelihood of defaulting on a project. And these general contractors are strongly advised to revisit their own standard subcontract forms to make sure that they protect themselves against such a default.
The goal of a well-crafted construction contract is not just to win a fight if one arises on a project. But, rather to avoid the flight altogether, because the party have already discussed the issues and agreed on how to allocate the risk of these various contingencies.