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Retirement home accused of violating landlord-tenant law

Most in Saint Charles would likely limit the extent of the landlord-tenant relationship to either businesses leasing commercial space or individuals paying for single-unit rental properties. Yet there are a number of other special business relationships that deal with residency that might also fall into this category. An unfamiliarity with these unique situations may be the reason why local property owners are so surprised to learn that legal issues that they are faced fall under landlord-tenant law. Thus, one should seek to clearly define the relationship that exists between them and their residential clients in order to be better prepared to respond to potential accusations of wrongdoing. 

A retirement home in Massachusetts is currently having to deal with a dispute that was likely never anticipated: a lawsuit citing the Fair Housing Act. The facility itself is not licensed as a nursing home, rehab facility or skilled nursing center; instead, it rents individual rooms to elderly residents and offers its tenants shared services (such as community meals, as well as laundry and housekeeping services). It also asks residents to participate in mealtime religious devotionals. 

What types of wills does Missouri consider valid?

Like most in Saint Charles, you likely envision the estate planning process to be quite formal. After all, matters dealing with the dispersal of your assets ought not to be taken lightly, and should be given the attention and care they deserve. Yet this does not necessarily mean that the creation of a will has to be a complex process. There are actually several different types of wills, each varying in the format that they are delivered. The question then becomes which does Missouri state law consider to be valid? 

In general, a will must be witnessed by appropriate parties in order to be considered valid. It typically does not matter whether it is handwritten or typed (most, however, chose to craft it in the form of a professional document for added legitimacy); as long as at least two competent witnesses attest to its legitimacy, state courts will enforce it. Many call handwritten wills "holographic wills," yet this is actually a misapplication of the term. A holographic will is one that is not witnessed, and Missouri state law does not consider such wills to be valid. 

IRS and Aretha Franklin's estate at odds over back taxes

Most in Saint Charles equate the tax responsibilities of an estate to be those owed in estate taxes. Federal estate tax exemptions often exempt most from owing any estate tax at all, so those administering an estate may believe that they do not have to worry about any tax liabilities. Yet estate tax exemptions do not apply to any outstanding income tax that a decedent may have owed at the time of their death. Such tax liabilities would continue to be treated like any other debts that need to be settled from an estate's assets. 

Such is the case facing the estate of Aretha Franklin, the singing icon who passed away from pancreatic cancer earlier this year. Recent reports revealed that Franklin owed as much as $6.3 million in back taxes and an additional $1.5 million in penalty fees. Her estate is disputing that amount, claiming that the Internal Revenue Service is mistakenly viewing the late singer's touring expenses as taxable income. It's representatives go on to claim that Franklin's returns were filed on time every year. Yet despite their insistence that the money owed is in dispute, the estate has paid over $3 million to the IRS since the singer's passing. 

Play director quits over dispute with writer's estate

A major part of estate planning in Saint Charles is choosing an executor. Such a decision should not be taken lightly, as an executor assumes a complex job that may test their capabilities and even require a lifelong commitment. This is especially true in cases involving estate that count intellectual and artistic properties amongst their assets. Others may want to try and utilize such properties in other works in the future. This requires an executor to oversee the use of these assets, or more importantly, prevent their perceived misuse. 

It was just such a difference of perception that led to the recent departure of the man set to direct an upcoming revival of a play penned by renowned American artist Arthur Miller. The director had cast an African-American actor in one of the play's central roles and then set about hiring an actress of the same race to portray his sister. However, Miller's daughter (who manages his estate) disagreed with the casting. Her issue was not that the director chose to seek black actors to fill these roles itself, but rather that the context of the play would make such casting seem historically inaccurate. Having already auditioned several African-American actresses for the role, the director felt he had little choice but to quit the production in order to preserve his reputation. 

How can HOAs enforce their rules?

Running or operating a homeowner’s association can come with a variety of difficulties, one of which comes with enforcing the rules and regulations of the association. Homeowners do not always abide by the rules laid out by the association, either by accident or with intent. How can homeowner’s associations successfully enforce these rules and what can happen when someone breaks these rules?

Warning and fines

Estate plan revision after a work injury

Multiple things can go wrong in life that make it necessary to go over your estate plan and make other important changes. For example, a marriage may break down or someone may lose one of their family members in an auto accident. Many other issues can necessitate estate plan revision, such as a work-related injury. If you were hurt on the job, you may be wondering how you will recover from the accident at the time being. However, you should try to think about some of the other long-term challenges that may arise, such as those related to your estate plan.

It may be necessary to go over your estate plan due to a work injury for a number of reasons. First, your ability to continue working may be impacted by the injury, either temporarily or permanently. This may have a significant effect on your finances and may change the way in which you will wish to distribute your assets among your loved ones. Job injuries can also cause people to switch careers, which could also impact their income.

Examining Missouri's treatment of no-contest clauses

Those currently engaged in the estate planning process in Saint Charles no doubt grapple with the concern that not all of their beneficiaries will be satisfied with how their estates will be distributed. The hope is that even with certain people being disappointed, no disagreements will arise that are serious enough to hinder the dispersal of the estate. Some might suggest that one preparing a will should be pre-emptive in preventing disputes by included a no-contest clause. Many often question, however, whether such clauses are even enforceable. 

Missouri state law defines a no-contest clause as any provision of a will that rescinds a donative transfer to or the fiduciary appointment of a potential beneficiary who challenges its validity. The general purpose of such a clause is to deter any disputes over an estate by threatening punitive actions. Those who believe that estate disputes arise simply due to the greed of beneficiaries may have no problem with such a provision. Yet this line of thinking overlooks the fact that there are often very valid reasons why one would question the terms of a will. 

How can I protect a family member against fraud?

Elderly people are often a target of frauds and scams. Unfortunately, if your relative falls victim to such a scam there can be little to do to get back any money lost, which can get in the way of financial matters like estate planning. There are steps you can take to protect your loved one however, as explained by AARP.

Watch out for nefarious family members

Family at odds over special administrator appointment

The rules and regulations governing estate administration in Saint Charles can be mind-numbingly complex. Oftentimes, it may be difficult to even find two different legal professionals who see eye-to-eye on the same statute. It is for this very reason that litigation is often a constant companion with estate cases. Even extensive estate planning prior to one's death may not be enough to avoid a dispute. 

This fact has been on full display in the ongoing dispute over the management of the estate of the children of an Indiana couple killed in a car accident. While extended family members were made guardians of the children, the father's own father was appointed as a special administrator of his estate in order to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit (presumably to benefit the kids' future). However, the guardians and other family members argued that they should also be appointed as co-special guardians. 

What can’t an HOA enforce?

While homeowners’ associations (HOA) in Missouri can require individual homeowners to stick to certain rules, there are some areas that are simply out of their purview. Steering clear of making unenforceable regulations is important from a legal perspective, as doing so could result in a costly and time-consuming lawsuit. In this case, Realtor.com offers the following examples of what an HOA cannot do.

Issues fines that aren’t included in bylaws

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