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Openness may help prevent HOA legal fights

Like individuals, the boards of Home Owner Associations can have distinct personalities, interests, strengths and weaknesses. Some play well with others and stay out of trouble, while others might always be entangled in conflicts.

Knowing how to run a board and its meetings tends to be a rare skill that takes practice, humility and patience. You have to know how to be discrete and do things quietly, but for many boards, a generally positive attitude about openness serves the board and the community of members well.

Removing or replacing a personal representative

A person’s choice of their personal representative may be one of the most important decisions involved in the estate planning process. This is the individual (or in the same cases, the parties) that will be charged with ensuring that one’s final wishes are carried out to their exact specifications. Thus, one should be sure that the person(s) they select are aptly capable of fulfilling the role. Still, circumstances may occur which necessitate the removal of a personal representative during the estate administration process. 

Per Section 473.139 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes, a personal representative may petition to resign from the role. They typically will have to show to the court that they have good cause for doing so, and such an act cannot be done until they have filed their final settlement with the court as per state law. A personal representative who intends to resign from the position does not have to give those party to the estate prior notice of their intention to do so. 

When can I evict a tenant?

If you’re a landlord, you know that some tenants can be extremely troublesome. You may want them gone so bad you’d be willing to change the locks while they’re out. Unfortunately, that would be illegal. Landlords must have a reason to begin eviction proceedings against their tenants.

Missouri has many laws which protect the rights of both tenants and landlords, which may make it more complicated to act against a tenant. But, the laws also protect you and your property as well.

Why should you update your will after your divorce?

It is recommended by estate planning experts in Saint Charles that you create a will early on in your adult life (as you never know when you might die). Your spouse will no doubt factor into your estate planning decisions. What happens, then, if after creating a will (and including provisions which address the distribution of assets to your spouse) you then choose to get a divorce? 

Some might tell you that if you fail to update your will following your divorce, you risk inadvertently leaving your ex-spouse whatever you had previously earmarked for them to inherit. Yet that is not the case. Per Section 474.420 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes, any provisions or terms of your will that bequeath your spouse assets or property, or designate any rights of appointment regarding the administration of your estate are revoked the moment that your divorce becomes final. In the eyes of the law, it would be as though your ex-spouse died when you were divorced. 

What does a Homeowners Association regulate?

In Missouri, many neighborhoods have a Homeowners Association (HOA). These associations help keep communities coherent, manage funds, and can even determine the outward appearance of a neighborhood. Unfortunately, because HOAs essentially "manage" the neighborhood, you could find yourself running into disputes with your resident homeowners if you are part of it.

FindLaw takes a look at just some of the areas that a Homeowners Association may regulate. This can include additional fixtures on a person's property, like tool sheds and mailboxes. Determining what materials are okay for use in renovation (like the shingles, exterior paint, and siding) may also be up to the HOA, along with landscaping decisions. Finally, pet-related matters and structures for children like basketball hoops also fall under HOA jurisdiction.

Understanding when a landlord can keep a security deposit

Being a rental property owner in Saint Charles offers many benefits, the chief of which is the added funds that it can contribute to one’s monthly income. Those who own such properties should also not have that difficult of a time finding tenants; according to information gathered by the Pew Research Center, 36.6 percent of U.S. households were headed by renters in 2016. Of course, renting to a tenant also brings with it the stress of whether or not they will take care of a property (and not do anything that might diminish its value). A landlord’s security against this is the security deposit. 

Typically, landlords will require an amount be provided by renters as an up-front deposit to guard against any damage happening to a property (this amount will often equal the first and last month’s rent payments). If the tenant takes good care of the property, those funds are returned to them once their lease agreement expires and they leave. Yet if something does happen during their time there, the landlord can use that deposit to cover the cost of the damages. 

Examining the different types of power of attorney

Many in Saint Charles may think that the only purpose of estate planning is determining how your assets and property are to be distributed to your beneficiaries upon your death. Yet another major aspect of the process is addressing your end-of-life care (if you happen to be in a position where you might need assistance in making important decisions). Part of this may be deciding who to entrust with power of attorney over your affairs. When seeking assistance with this process, many of those who have come to members of our team here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law have been surprised to learn that there are actually several different forms of power of attorney. 

Which you may need to empower another with depends on the types of decisions you want to authorize them to make. There are three distinct forms of power of attorney: 

  • General: This allows whomever has been entrusted with it to make almost any type of decision for you, including those related to your finances, healthcare and living arrangements
  • Limited: This form of power attorney grants one decision-making privileges in a certain aspect of your life, allowing you to maintain control over all other areas. 
  • Healthcare: Entrusting one with healthcare power of attorney allows them to determine the course of your healthcare (so far as those decisions do not conflict with any advance directives you have already established. 

What rules can't a HOA enforce?

A homeowners' association (HOA) can add a lot of value to the life of residents. However, HOAs must also adhere to certain rules and regulations to ensure they don't run afoul of the law. Realtor.com offers the following examples of unenforceable rules that all HOAs should steer clear of.

The Fair Housing Act stipulates that all people should have equal access to quality housing. Accordingly, it's not permissible to discriminate against a person based on skin color, ethnicity, nation of origin, or religion. Things like gender or sexual orientation may also be protected depending on where the HOA is located. Additionally, even if a policy isn't outwardly discriminatory, the HOA must really consider whether it may have secondary effects that could be construed as such. 

Lawsuit claims caretaker influenced woman to change will

Being transparent in one’s estate planning is encouraged by experts in Saint Charles in order to avoid the potential of disputes arising amongst beneficiaries after one is gone. The reasoning behind this advice is that if beneficiaries know what may be coming to them from one’s estate, they may be less likely to question the validity of the instruments governing it. Yet this can also be a double-edged sword in that if a potential beneficiary believes that they it has been indicated that they will have a specific interest in an estate, they may cry foul if and when that does not turn out to be the case. 

Such is the claim being made by a museum in Oregon. Its representatives say that a wealthy local patron had promised that the museum would be named a remainder beneficiary of her estate (meaning that it would receive whatever was left over after assets and properties had been distributed to other beneficiaries). This had museum personnel believing that it would receive the woman’s extensive art collection, as well as millions of dollars. Yet six months after making this promise, the woman amended her will, leaving her estate in its entirety to her longtime caretaker. The museum filed a lawsuit saying that the caretaker had exercised undue influence in getting the woman to change her will. The jury hearing the case agreed, awarding the museum a multi-million dollar settlement. 

But I own my condo! They can’t evict me…can they?

Condos are a great place to live, they are convenient, contained, and you do not have to worry about a yard or upkeep of the exterior of a home. That being said, condo home owners associations can be a bit prickly and may cause trouble for some tenants. Knowing your rights and what your HOA can and cannot do can help you to avoid a great deal of trouble.

 

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