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Barring one from illegally profiting from another's estate

Saint Charles residents are encouraged to be transparent in their estate planning. Yet what happens if that transparency puts them in danger. You might dismiss the idea of a beneficiary killing their potential benefactor in order to receive their money to simply be the imaginings of storytellers. Our team here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law can tell you, however, that the potential is real enough that the state has address the issue through legislation. 

One who kills another with the hopes of inheriting their estate is automatically disinherited by law. You may think this goes without saying, as the law is designed to not allow one to profit off the death of another. A guilty verdict in a criminal trial certainly establishes culpability, and that alone should be enough to revoke any beneficiary designations that settlor might have made regarding that person. 

Should I update my estate plan?

When's the last time you've looked at your will? If it's been a while, or you've recently undergone some significant life changes, it's time to review your estate plan to ensure it still meets your needs. Forbes explains when you must update your will so it continues to protect your assets and ensure your family receives them as you see fit after you're gone. 

Your executor will be responsible for carrying out the terms of your will. This is a huge responsibility, and as a result, it's crucial that you select the best person for the job. Even after careful selection circumstances can change over time. You must consider whether the person you chose continues to meet your needs. If not, it's time to update your will with a new appointment so you can rest assured that all the necessary duties will be carried out effectively.

The challenges of enforcing oral contracts

As a landlord, sometimes you may find it easier to just make an oral agreement with a new tenant. While it is true that Missouri law does recognize oral agreements to some capacity, there is added risk to using a spoken agreement over a verbal one. These risks can leave a landlord at a disadvantage if the oral contract is ever litigated by a tenant or other party. lists some general challenges oral contracts present. By definition, an oral agreement is spoken and not written down. Therefore, it can be a problem to prove that the oral agreement exists in the first place, or even if you can, what the provisions of the oral contract are. Unless a witness was on hand to hear you make the verbal agreement with a tenant or other party, a court may rule that the agreement cannot be enforced.

Determining parentage for intestate succession

The process of intestate succession (and the guidelines governing it) have been detailed on this blog in the past. As the child of one who dies without a will, you have the right to inherit a portion of your parent's assets. Yet oftentimes clients come to see members of our team here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law when the issue of establishing parentage arises. This may seem a simple enough task; simply identify a decedent's issue (their direct descendants). Yet what if you are not the biological child of a decedent, your parents were unwed? Are you still entitled to inherit assets under the state's intestate succession guidelines? 

The simple answer is yes you are, yet the order in which you stand to inherit anything depends on your relationship with the decedent. If the decedent was your adopted parent, then you are viewed as being part of their issue. Per Section 474.060 of Missouri's Revised Statutes, if your parents were not married at the time of your birth, you are automatically considered to be the biological child of your mother. You would also be considered the biological child of your father if he and your married were married either before or after you were born (even if the marriage was subsequently voided), or if paternity is established prior to your father's death or after his death by clear and convincing proof. 

What should you expect from your HOA?

There are many advantages to living in an area that has a homeowner's association in Missouri. Such an organization can establish guidelines for you and your neighbors who reside in the community. These rules can help to maintain a place that is aesthetically pleasing, mutually beneficial and in accordance with city-sanctioned laws. 

In exchange for the fee that you pay to your homeowner's association, you may receive a variety of benefits that will vary depending on the community you live in. However, some of the things you should receive from your HOA should be the same across the board. According to Associa, your HOA should always provide the following:

  • An effective method for you to communicate with them. This communication should include concerns you have about how issues are being handled, questions you have about your responsibilities, suggestions you may have for community improvements and general information about the HOA. 
  • Transparency about the way your money is being used to provide betterment for the community and its residents. A ledger that shows the breakdown of how HOA fees are being used is something you should have access to when you request it. 

Can landlords enforce an expedited eviction in Missouri?

As a landlord, you have to make the tough decisions. Between maintenance, tenants and rent schedules, you are balancing several different aspects of managing the property. Most of the time, you will have to make a choice you don’t want to make.

For example, you will make an eviction at some point. You may be tempted to rush along the eviction process to reduce the pain on yourself and the tenant. However, you can expedite an eviction in Missouri?

Settling an estate's debts

Some in Saint Charles might mistakenly believe that once one dies, all of their debts are resolved. Yet that is not the case. Were a decedent still alive, the funds used to pay their debts would be taken from their personal assets. Upon their death, those assets become their estate. Thus, any debts that are owed now must be paid from the estate. As one's executor or personal representative is tasked with managing their estate, the job of allocating estate assets to pay off their debts falls to that party. Since reports that the average American has $61,000 of debt when they die, those asked to serve in the aforementioned role should be familiar with their debt resolution options. 

An important point for personal representatives to remember is that while their role is to settle the estate's debts, they themselves do not assume liability for them. Therefore, a creditor can only collect that which is available from a debtor's estate. 

Considerations for choosing a guardian of your child

Most people in Missouri who have children dream of and expect that they will live to see their children grow up and that they will even get to experience the joys of becoming grandparents someday. While this is the most common scenario and the one most likely to the chances of probability, it is certainly not what always happens. Illnesses and accidents can and do happen, leaving children suddenly without their parents. In these situations, having a prenamed guardian ready to step in can go a long way toward providing the emotional support kids need.

As explained by Forbes, when identifying a guardian for a child, parents should start not with a list of potential candidates but with a list of the values and lifestyle characteristics they would like for their kids. This list should cover everything from religious upbringing to educational importance to preferences for an urban, suburban or rural type of life. It can be helpful to put this list in order of priority, as some sacrificed may need to be made.

Raising the rent on your rental property

Rental properties can often be lucrative investments (which is likely the main reason why you have chosen to manage your own in Saint Charles). Maximizing your ROI on a rental property requires charging the right amount of rent. While you do not want your rent prices to be prohibitive, you also want to charge enough to make owning and maintaining the property worth your while. This leads to the question of when you can legally raise a tenant's rent. Many come to our team here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law with this same inquiry. The answer depends on the situation you are in. 

If your tenant has done nothing to violate the law or the terms of their lease agreement (and your reasons for raising the rent are strictly financial), then you can only raise the rent after their lease agreement has expired. That applies only cases where you have a written agreement. Oral agreements between you and your tenant are only considered valid from month-to-month. In such a situation, you would only need to give the tenant one month's notice before raising the rent. 

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