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Withholding rent from a landlord

Most in Saint Charles may assume that in a typical landlord-tenant relationship, the landlord has the most power. The perceived resource discrepancy that many presume exists between both sides might contribute to this line of thinking. There may be a degree of truth in this notion; date shared by The New York Times shows that 90 percent of landlords have access to legal resources, while an equal precentage of rentersd do not. There are instances, however, where a tenant can sieze a degree of power in his or her relationship with a landlord. 

One of these is when there are issues with a property that need to be addressed. As the owner, the landlord has the responsibility to ensure that a property remains in good condition. If the landlord fails to take action whens its needed., then a tenant may choose to take matters into his or her own hands by paying to have repairs done and then withholding that amount from his or her monthly rent

When should I update my will?

By now you probably know that writing a will as soon as possible is a good idea. Your will clarifies your wants and wishes to your loved ones when you are no longer around to tell them what they are. Having a working will is essential for every person as it will ease some of the pressure off your family when it comes time to decide what to do with your belongings and assets.

Creating your will initially is a great step in planning for your future, but have you thought about updating it? When was the last time you reviewed and made changes to your will? You may not even know when the best time to do this is.

The three P's of guardianship

One element of estate planning that is often overlooked is selecting a guardian for your minor children. Ensuring that your children are raised by someone of your choosing should be one of the primary motivators for you to begin this process early in your adult life. Several people have come to our team here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law asking for guidance when making this decision. However, exact advice on this topic may be difficult to provide. 

Section 475.055 of Missouri's Revised Statutes says that any adult may be qualified to act as guardian of a minor child. That certainly does not narrow your options. The easy answer to who should take care of the kids should both you and your spouse die may be the grandparents. Yet what if they are not around (or are incapable of doing so)? Considering "the three P's" of guardianship may help make this decision easier: 

  • Practicality: You need to choose someone who can realistically provide the type of care and supervision your kids need. That may preclude family members or friends who have physical limitations, or whose professional lives may not allow for optimal parenting time. 
  • Personality: Your kids will need authoritative parental figures in your absence, not someone who will allow them to do whatever they want. Thus, you'll want to pick a guardian capable of providing such guidance. 
  • Philosophy: You may also want to consider the parental and moral philosophies of those you are considering as guardians, as you no doubt will want your kids to be raised with the same beliefs and values that you and your spouse possess.  

Duties and difficulties that HOAs face

In Missouri, HOAs - homeowner's associations - are put into place in neighborhoods of all types for various reasons. Not only do they have numerous duties to fulfill, but they also have certain struggles and potential issues that they will be tasked with combating should the need arise.

FindLaw has a list of the basics of homeowners' associations, which includes covering the tasks that HOAs are meant to take care of. Essentially, it is the job of any HOA to ensure that the neighborhood they're in charge of is kept safe, peaceful, taken care of, and maintained so the property value does not drop. This can include anything from regulating the color and upkeep of houses to disallowing homeowners from making drastic, unwanted additions to their house. HOAs can even monitor what a person puts in their backyard, including toolsheds, fountains, or other things that may be considered an eyesore.

How can I find my dream tenants?

If you are a landlord in Missouri, one of your biggest and ongoing headaches is finding good tenants. The kind that pays rent on time, who keep the premises clean and notify you right away if there are any plumbing or HVAC problems. One of the best tools you can use to find these kinds of “dream” tenants is tenant screening. One of the most valuable pieces of a screening and one that should not be neglected is a credit check.

The American Apartment Owners Association has some tips on what to look for on a credit check that can help you sort out applicants and decide on your next renter. Do not be put off by the format of a report, which may seem confusing.

Man's widow and daughters battle over $60 million estate

Far too few of those in Saint Charles who should be seeing to their estate planning may actually be doing it. One might understand the hesitancy another might have to seriously consider end-of-life issues while he or she is still of sound mind and body. Yet the purpose of estate planning should be viewed as preparing for death; rather, it should be considered a method through which people can pre-emptively avoid having inheritance issues fracture families. 

In some cases, people may point out that the fractures are already there. Yet an equally compelling argument might be made that such cases need to be carefully planned out the most (as the potential for contention is already present). Such cases also might call for increased transparency so that one's intentions are truly known. 

Tips to avoid setting your trust up for failure

It’s a common misconception that, once a trust has been executed, no further action should be taken. However, even simple slip-ups could result in assets bypassing the trust and ending up in probate. Since probate avoidance is likely a key reason that you executed your plan in the first place, knowing the critical steps you should take to maintain the effectiveness of your trust is essential.

Here are some tips to create a mistake-proof trust and put your mind at ease.

The benefits of an HOA

Although Homeowners Association guidelines may seem overwhelming up front, their end goal is to protect and preserve communities for years to come. Many Missouri homeowners express confusion over the details of an HOA membership altogether. While the fees and fine print may vary, the pros of living in a neighborhood with an HOA can outweigh the cons. 

According to Realty Times, that monthly payment is more than a mundane addition to the expenses list. In fact, the benefits of an HOA can include the general maintenance of a neighborhood: aspects such as lawncare, pool maintenance and gym cleaning are types of upkeep covered in most plans. Hazard and liabilitiy insurance are other common perks of an HOA, as Realty Times explains that many condo owners, for example, have this advantage when it comes to the unexpected. Back to the topic of maintenance, having amenities such as pools and gyms can be lifesavers in themselves; with clean and tidy areas to exercise and relax, an HOA can make life easier.

Choosing a personal representative

As you begin the process of estate planning in St. Charles, one of the most important decisions that you must make will be who to choose as your personal representative. This is a choice that should certainly not be taken lightly, as this person will be responsible for carrying out your wishes as they're stipulated in your will. Furthermore, whomever you choose will be the one who ensures that your beneficiaries can receive all the you have designated for them. Many come to members of our team here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law for guidance when making this decision. We often start by telling them the basic qualifications to be a personal representative. 

Those qualifications can be found in Section 473.117 of Missouri's state statutes. They state that your personal representative must meet the following criteria: 

  • He or she must be above the age of majority (18)
  • He or she cannot be proven to be a habitual drunkard
  • He or she cannot be under a legal disability due to a conviction of a crime

Grappling with a bad tenant

Most Missouri residents have heard at least one horror story relating to a dispute between a landlord and tenant. While there can be problems from both ends, few hear about the realities behind the scenes of renting out a property. Realizing that a tenant is not the right fit -- or, worse, has caused damage -- can be a frustrating discovery. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies one can turn to in these trying predicaments.

Money Crashers first highlights an age-old problem that landlords often face when renting a property to tenants: failure to pay rent. Above all else, this should be the tenant's first priority, and Money Crashers continues by noting that communication can make all the difference. For instance, a tenant may fail to pay rent simply due to financial struggle, such as a recent job loss. Depending on the length of time the problem has persisted, a landlord may decide to work out a payment plan with struggling tenants. Dovetailing with this issue comes the common problem of bad tenants. Money Crashers recognizes that they can slip through the cracks all too often, and the financial resource encourages landlords to not only conduct a credit check, but a background check, as well.

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