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St. Louis Legal Blog

What do I need to disclose when selling my house?

You may be dreading the disclosure required of all property owners in Missouri, wondering if you have to make an all-inclusive list of every chip in the paint, scratch in the molding or crack in the sidewalk. While it is illegal in many states to try and cover up issues such as major structural problems, real estate disclosure is not meant to be a laundry list of minor issues either.

According to FindLaw, the point of requiring disclosure is to let buyers know about potential problems, as well as any known problems, before they sign on the dotted line. The point is that they have a right to know about issues that may affect their investment and its value, just as you had when you bought the house.

Do you need an estate plan for your digital assets?

Almost everyone has some form of digital assets these days, but most do not have anything in their estate plan regarding how they want them handled. A 2011 survey by McAfee found that Americans valued their digital assets at more than $54,000. Digital assets include photos, emails and digital records such as financial statements or tax returns, along with anything else you store online. In addition to these common assets, digital purchases for eBooks, music and movies would also be included, along with the relatively new cryptocurrencies.


Millennial estate plan needs

If you are one of the many millennials in Missouri, the thought of making a will or a trust may seem completely unnecessary to you. Many people today still incorrectly consider these things important for older individuals. However, as NerdWallet explains, setting up an estate plan while you are young is just as important as having one in place when you get into your 50s, 60s or beyond.

One factor that may necessitate an estate plan for a millennial is the move into parenthood. Once you are responsible for another person, your responsibility lasts even after you die and if that should happen while your child is still a minor, an estate plan is the only way to know that your child will be raised by the person you want. In addition to naming a guardian for a child, identifying someone to manage your estate and the finances for the good of your child is equally important.

When and why should I update my will?

As a responsible parent or guardian in Missouri, you have made a will to ensure that your children have guardians should you die, and that your belongings go to those you want to have them. Those are important directives. However, a will is not a “one and done” task. As you go through changes in your life, your will should reflect that, along with changes in finances.

Forbes suggests that you update your will every five years or sooner depending on a variety of circumstances that may prompt changes in your will. If you are already a parent but want to grow your family, each new addition signals a change that should be reflected in your will. Along with naming guardians, you need to provide for children financially. The same applies to new grandparents too.

Estate planning and the new tax law

The passage of the new tax law is an exciting time for estate planning. We have not had this many changes to the law in over 30 years. The details and implications are still emerging, so a comprehensive analysis of the changes and how they might affect you will take some time.

There is never a bad time to review your estate planning, however. We do know that some people will to have an impact from this new bill and what to look for, so if your situation falls into some broad categories it is important that you have a thorough review of your estate. You may even have a few new provisions which you can take advantage of.

The power of the title report

When buying a home in Missouri, the title report may be one of the most valuable documents a seller may receive. Received early in the process after reaching a deal with the seller, a buyer should read this thoroughly. Redfin explains that there is a specific window in which a buyer may question the contents of this report or cancel the purchase agreement based upon the title report information.

According to Zillow, the title report detail the exact boundaries of a home in dimensions and direction. It will also call out any easements or encroachments. The former provides others access onto a property. The latter is something from an adjacent property that crosses the property line. A title report will also give details about any homeowner's association rules and regulations and let a buyer know what type of access they have to the common areas and what guidelines they will be required to follow if they purchase the property.

The outlook for potential home buyers in missouri

New buyers can reap endless benefits from purchasing a home in Missouri, but can also come across quite a few obstacles. Recent news shows these obstacles largely concern the scouting out of homes, where many residents have struggled to find new property altogether. Some reports reflect a housing crunch in not only the state, but in other parts of the nation, as well. When will that crunch see a change, and will the many left on the housing hunt find a new home sweet home at last? 

An article from last April in The Kansas City Star recognized that current frustration. According to the Star, there are almost 14 percent fewer homes on the market than a year ago -- making market activity a bit overwhelming for the real estate industry. Some individuals and couples have hit hurdles when, after believing they will close on a house, they soon discover that another buyer scooped up the deal within minutes. Some of the most sought-after homes are those with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The major lack in inventory has caused this shift, which the Star states is only part of a much larger housing issue affecting the entire country. 

Wise planning advised for remarrying couples

If you are one of the many people in Missouri who has been fortunate enough to find a new love to bring into your life after the death of a spouse or after a prior divorce, you have many reasons to celebrate indeed. However, before you rush to walk down that aisle again and legalize your union, it is wise for you and your new partner to carefully review and formalize your estate plans.

As indicated by Fidelity Investments, all too often in blended families, there can be strong emotions around who will retain or receive what when one of the spouses dies. This can be especially tricky if there is a prized family heirloom that one set of children expects to be kept in their family lineage that ends up in the hands of the stepchildren instead. Concerns like these may well put people on guard from the beginning and stand in the way of the family coming together as it could.

Detailing the pros and cons of short sales

Envisioning your dream home in St. Louis is easy; being able to afford, on the other hand, is another matter altogether. That is why, when you see such a home listed at what appears to be below market value, you may think it too good to be true. In such a case, the listing may be a short sale. Many have come to us here at TDD Attorneys At Law LLC inquiring as to the wisdom of pursuing such properties. Our answer is always the same: to weigh the pros and cons of short sales before making a decision. 

Freddie Mac defines a "short sale" as a situation where the homeowner attempts to sell a property for less than the balance owed on the mortgage. This is usually done when he or she wants to sell and move out quickly. In many cases, it may not signify that there is something wrong with the property, but rather that the owner simply cannot afford to make the payments on it. The entire transaction, however, is contingent on the lender accepting the lower payoff amount. 

When should I review my estate plan?

If you are one of the people in Missouri who has spent the time and energy to make a will, trust or other estate planning document, you should be pleased with yourself for taking this step. However, you should now ask yourself how long it has been since you have reviewed those items? Your estate plan should never be considered static because your life is not static. People come into your life either via marriage or birth. Similarly, divorce and death may take people out of your life.

Fidelity Investments indicates that these are just some of the reasons that may necessitate not only a review but an update of your estate plan. Even without what you might consider a major change, reviewing your will or trust annually is a wise thing to do.

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