Sarah Bueltmann
3407 S. Jefferson, #106
St. Louis, MO 63118
P: (314) 529-0717

Avoiding Probate by Rebecca Van Zandt Hirshfield

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in Estate Planning | 0 comments

I’ve noticed in my legal practice that many people mistakenly believe that a Will can help prevent probate. While I recommend that everyone have a Will, a Will is not going to prevent your estate from being probated. A Will simply prevents the estate from being distributed according to the intestacy laws of your home state. Probating an estate can take months or years and the process can be confusing and expensive.   What is a Will? A Will is the legal instrument that permits a person, the testator, to make decisions on how their estate will be managed and distributed after their death. A Will enables a person to select their heirs instead of allowing the state to determine who receives the assets of your estate. When executing a Will a person decides who will manage the estate, the executor of the estate, to distribute the assets in the estate according to the instructions and desires of the deceased person. A Will is also used to name the individual or individuals who should be allowed to serve as guardian of any minor children in the event of your death.   If a person dies without a Will we say the person died intestate. Intestate means without a will. If you die intestate in the State of Missouri, the law states that your assets should be distributed as follows: If you die intestate with: here’s what happens: ·         children but no spouse ·         children inherit everything ·         spouse but no descendants ·         spouse inherits everything ·         spouse and descendants from you and that spouse ·         spouse inherits first $20,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance ·         descendants inherit everything else ·         spouse and descendants from you and someone other than that spouse ·         spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate property ·         descendants inherit everything else ·         parents and siblings, but no spouse or descendants ·         parents and siblings inherit your intestate property in equal shares ·         parents but no spouse, descendants, or siblings ·         parents inherit everything ·         siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents ·         siblings inherit everything Only assets that are owned by you solely, or in your name only, are subject to the laws of intestacy. For example, if you have a checking account and you are the only authorized signer, when you die that account will be subject to probate and the laws of intestacy.  Many people assume that adding a joint owner to their accounts is the best answer, but giving someone access to your accounts invites a whole new set of problems. What if the joint owner isn’t trustworthy? The joint owner has the ability to withdraw funds from your...

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Welcome to Gateway City Law LLC

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in About Us | 0 comments

We are a small general civil practice focusing in the areas of estate planning, community association law, real estate, evictions, business/corporation set-up and litigation, and collections. We strive to provide our clients excellent counseling and legal representation by providing each client with personal attention and detailed information about their particular issue.

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Posted by on Aug 12, 2011 in Real Estate | 0 comments

Questions often come up from both landlords and tenants relating to security deposits.  How much can be collected?  What steps need to be taken when a tenant moves out?  What are the requirements for a landlord to retain a security deposit?  A few simple rules will demystify the law concerning security deposits. The Missouri statute V.A.M.S. §535.300.7 defines a security deposit as “any deposit of money or property, however denominated, which is furnished by a tenant to a landlord to secure the performances of any part of the rental agreement, including damages to the dwelling unit.”  A landlord usually requires a security deposit, which is usually cash, when a tenant is moving into their property to secure payment for repairs of any possible damage done to the property by the tenant, beyond reasonable wear and tear.  The security deposit belongs to the tenant until the end of the tenancy, only after the tenant vacates the property can the landlord determine damages and how much of the security deposit will be used for repairs. When a tenant moves into a property the landlord can ask for as much as the total of two months’ rent as a security deposit, for example rent = $500 a month, the landlord can ask for as much as $1,000 for a security deposit.  However, if the landlord asks for first and last month’s rent at the time the tenant moves in, the landlord can only ask for one month’s rent as a security deposit,  because the payment of last month’s rent is also considered part of the security deposit, it ensures the tenant will not move out without paying their last month’s rent. When a tenant vacates a property, the landlord is required under Missouri statute V.A.M.S. §535.300.4 to provide notice to the tenant of the date and time of the security deposit inspection.  The tenant is not required to be present, but the landlord must provide notice so the tenant can be in attendance, if they so choose at the time of inspection.  This notice must be made in writing, to the tenant, include the date and time of inspection, and either mailed to their last known address or provided to the tenant in person.  A landlord should give a tenant “reasonable” notice of the date and time of the inspection, it would be in the landlord’s best interest to give at least 7 days’ notice. Within 30 days, the landlord must either: 1) return the full amount of the security deposit; or 2) they must provide the tenant with a written itemized list of the damages and the cost of repair, that indicates the balance of the security deposit and what portion...

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