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Why does a will need witnesses?

Estate planning experts in Saint Charles continually stress the importance of your preparing a will. Yet equally as important as writing a will is ensuring that you have witnesses that can attest to it. The root cause of almost all will contest is objections to the validity of a will. Having witnesses in place proves to any interested parties to your estate that the provisions of your will are indeed valid. Without witnesses, you have what is known as a "holographic will," whose validity Missouri law does not recognize. 

The creation and signing of your will need not be a spectacular production. In fact, your chosen witnesses may not technically need to be present when you sign it. You simply need to have two or more of them attest to the fact that the will reflects your desires as to the administration of your estate. Those witnesses must then add their signatures to the document. 

Can the government get involved in an HOA dispute?

If you hold a position of authority in a Missouri homeowner association, you may have concerns about the possibility of government overreach. In other words, if a dissatisfied homeowner makes an appeal to the government to resolve a dispute or challenge an association rule, you may have concerns that the government will step in and undermine your autonomy. 

However, you usually have very little, if anything, to worry about in that regard. According to FindLaw, while the laws vary by state, most governmental bodies recognize that the structure of a common interest development, including the rules and regulations, is a big part of the appeal for its residents. In fact, for many association members, the regulatory provisions in place may have been a significant reason for their choice to purchase property as part of a CID. For this reason, state governments are typically reluctant to do anything to take away the authority of a homeowner association by getting involved in disputes. Such actions could fly in the face of the wishes of the majority of association members and lead to many unhappy residents.

Millennials and estate planning

For many young people in Missouri, the thought of creating an estate plan may be far off in the future. In fact, they may think it is only something their parents or grandparents need to be concerned about. This, however, is quite incorrect. An estate plan can be of great use even to a young, single millennial.

As pointed out by Think Advisor, events like mass shootings at concern venues are just some things that highlight the reality that a person need not be deemed "old" in order to die. A young person may even develop an unexpected medical condition or be involved in a car or other type of accident that claims their life or leaves them incapacitated. These tragedies are certainly hard on families but one thing millennials can do to help their families if such a situation should arise is to do some planning now.

A parent’s will can protect children if their parents die

Many parents do not recognize the importance of having a last will and testament. Television shows and books often focus on the asset distribution component of wills, so parents may not realize how having a will can protect their children. Although you can use a will to list who should inherit certain assets, you can also use it to name a trusted person to serve as the guardian of your child in case something happens to you.

What happens to my child if I die without a will?

Do you need to evict a tenant?

As a landlord in Missouri, there are moments in which you may run into potential legal issues with your tenants. There might even come a time when you believe their eviction is the best possible action you could take. Stephen A. Martin, attorney at law, is here to help if you ever need to evict a tenant.

Tenants can be unpredictable when faced with eviction. In some cases, they may file a lawsuit against you, feeling as though they are being unlawfully removed from the property. If this happens, you may need legal representation. That is not generally the first goal, however. Most landlord-tenant disputes are something that many may attempt to solve through negotiation first. This could still involve the use of legal professional aid, as they know the ins and outs of the law. Mediators may also be brought in to help mitigate arguments and allow parties to see from each other's perspectives.

Filing articles of incorporation

Neighbors in Saint Charles may want to bad together to set standards for their communities through a homeowners association, yet may not want to have to tackle the complexity that comes with incorporating with the state. The danger in this is that if an unincorporated HOA is sued, each member can be held personally liable (as opposed to limiting liability to the Board of Directors). Plus, with the state paving the way for such groups to incorporate as non-profit organizations (per Section 355.025 of Missouri's Nonprofit Corporation Law), why would homeowners not want to enjoy the advantages that come with such a distinction? 

An important element of incorporating is submitting articles of incorporation to the Missouri Secretary of State's office. According to the Missouri Revisor of Statutes, such articles must contain the following information: 

  • The formal name of the HOA
  • A statement recognizing that the HOA is intended to be a mutual benefit corporation
  • The address of the HOA's registered office  
  • The address of the person(s) filing the articles of incorporation
  • A statement recognizes that the HOA will have members 
  • Details regarding the plan for the distribution of the HOA's assets should it dissolve

HBO spars with Michael Jackson's estate over documentary

An important element of estate planning may be understanding that whoever one chooses to serve as their personal representative could be in store in handling matters related to the role. That can go far beyond the duties involved with administering one's assets. In cases where an estate has intellectual or artistic properties (or notoriety in and around St. Louis is associated with the decedent), a personal representative may be called on months and even years after the decedent's death to protect their interests (or, in some cases, their reputation). 

It is an alleged attack on the reputation of the late signing icon Michael Jackson that has spurred representatives of his estate into action. A documentary highlighting the stories of two men who claim that Jackson molested them is set to air on the Home Box Office channel in the coming months, and Jackson's estate is claiming that the network is acting recklessly in airing the film. Jackson's estate representative claims that the makers of the film made no attempt to contact any members of Jackson's family to refute the mens' stories, and that they significant evidence exists that contradicts their claims. He also claims that at least one of the men might have personal motives for damaging Jackson's reputation. Despite requests by Jackson's estate to look into the accusers' backgrounds before airing the film, the network reportedly plans to show it as planned. 

New law and bill focus on tenants, not landlords

Anyone who owns and rents residential properties in Louisiana will want to keep a close eye on any new or proposed laws that may impact their business. It is reasonable for a landlord to find ways to protect themselves financially and to ensure the proper care and condition of their properties. This is true whether they own multi-occupancy units, multiple single-family residences or just one single-family residence. 

In the past year, there have been efforts in the state of Louisiana that may seem to be targeting ways to make it harder for landlords to be paid or protect their investments. The first was a bill actually passed earlier in 2018. NOLA reported that this new law will give tenants the ability to seek compensation from landlords who do not return their full security deposits. It is not clear what provisions may be included in this bill to protect landlords in cases where tenants have not earned their security deposit refunds.

Planning to avoid estate taxes

The primary motivation for many in Saint Charles to engage in estate planning is to ensure that all of the assets that they have worked so hard to accumulate throughout their lifetimes are able to benefit their chosen beneficiaries. However, there may be a concern amongst many that after having expended such effort, much of their estate will end up having to be paid in taxes (living little to pass on to heirs). Estate taxes are one of the most misunderstood aspects of the estate planning process, and thus much misinformation exists about this potential liability. Most will be pleased to learn, however, that with a little advanced planning, one might avoid having their estate taxed at all. 

A federal estate tax threshold has been established to determine which estates will be made subject to tax (Missouri does not levy its own estate tax). Per Forbes Magazine, that threshold has been set at $11.4 million for 2019. If the total taxable amount of one's estate is below this threshold, it will not be taxes. Indeed, because of the estate tax threshold, only a small number of estates are ever taxed at all. 

What are advance directives?

An advance directive is a legal document that helps you convey your wishes for the type of medical treatment you want in the event you become unable to convey those wishes to your doctors. An advance directive is typically made up of two parts that complement each other to help ensure you receive the treatment you want, regardless of the circumstances.

Durable power of attorney for health care

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