St. Louis Legal Blog

When do you get your earnest money back?

While buying a new home in St. Louis is always an exciting proposition, it is also an expensive one. There is the matter of coming up with the down payment on the home, and then also having to put up earnest money to put the home you want under contract (your earnest money is typically applied towards your deposit when the deal closes). According to, in some cases, a seller can require that you offer as much as 10 percent of the purchase price in earnest money. That money is your financial commitment to doing what's needed to buy the home and offers reassurance to justify the buyer taking it off the market. So when do you get it back? 

Ideally, you will get the earnest money back when you close. Yet even in situations where the sale falls through, you may be entitled to recoup your earnest money. The most straightforward is when the seller decides to back out of the transaction. In this case, he or she must return the money to you. In others, however, you typically need to have contingencies in the contract that void the sale and entitle you to your earnest money. Such contingencies typically include: 

  • When the house appraises lower than what it is listed for
  • When you discover a major flaw during the inspection
  • When a builder does not deliver a fully completed home

The benefits of early estate planning

Estate planning is not always an easy topic to discuss, but there can be many advantages to addressing these plans head on. Despite the common assumption that this financial process is only for the elderly and the wealthy, Missouri residents who start sooner than later can save time and money in the long run. Recently, some experts have considered the wide range of benefits of beginning these plans early. 

The current job market has left millions of millennials in desperate financial times. However, U.S. News reported last year that, above all else, estate planning can ensure protection for loved ones. Contrary to what many younger generations may assume, the process can be short and simple, involving a brief series of paperwork. First, those starting estate plans may want to consider naming a decision maker; a reliable power of attorney and health care proxy can help one make important financial and health-related decisions in extreme situations that leave an adult incapacitated. Naming beneficiaries and wills is another important step, as U.S. News states that assets and life insurance benefits -- no matter how small -- can help family and friends in the case of a tragic event. 

What are the advantages of a special needs trust?

If you are the parent of a special needs child in Missouri, you have all the responsibilities of other parents, but to a higher degree. You also have the concern of caring for your child throughout his or her adult life. Establishing a special needs trust can help ensure that your child is provided for in later years.

FindLaw explains that one of the biggest benefits of using this trust is the protection it affords beneficiaries who do not have the mental ability to manage financial matters. Many times, those with disabilities are able to take advantage of government assistance programs, which can include Medicaid for medical needs, vocational rehabilitation for work programs and subsidized housing and income programs. If you, as a parent, leave a cash settlement through a will, it could end up costing your special needs child these types of government benefits, should the amount put the child into a higher income bracket.

10 things not covered during a home inspection

Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases the average person will undertake and buyers want to make sure they understand the condition of the property they are buying. Having a home inspection completed is one way home buyers can feel more confident in their purchase.

Licensed inspectors will generally follow criteria for inspections outlined in the American Society of Home Inspectors Standard of Practice document, or something from a similarly accredited organization. Using a standardized document ensures the client is provided with a comprehensive inspection.

The housing market outlook of st. louis and surrounding areas

For some cities on the map, growth has taken on an entirely new meaning. Cities such as St. Louis are hubs for start-ups, gourmet eateries and other creative niches, so it is easy to see why countless tourists and residents alike flock to the Gateway to the West. Upon closer look, what does the housing market look like for this popular city and surrounding areas? 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recount a successful past few years in the housing market for St. Louis, noting that although job growth in the city has been slow, the economic conditions remain positive. As of October 2015, St. Louis had an owner vacancy rate of roughly 2.5 percent -- a drop from 4.8 percent in 2010. As for the submarket, the homeownership rate was 41.8 percent, and the number of sold homes (both new and existing) saw an increase when compared with previous years. The HUD Department noted an expected minimal housing demand between 2015 and 2018. 

Estate planning the smart way

Taking the steps toward estate planning is often no easy task. The term itself can confuse many Missouri residents; not to mention, it can become an incredibly sensitive topic. There are, however, successful ways to go about solving estate planning problems.

Anyone can become stumped by the obstacles of making such arrangements, but some tactics can work better than others. A large majority of those beginning these plans may wonder, what are some of the common mistakes people make when estate planning?

You already have a will, so why should you update it?

Being financially responsible may be one of your best traits and creating a will preemptively is a sign of excellent planning. Yet nearly 2.5 million Americans die each year with the majority of them having nothing in writing. Having a will in place is a great practice that can help ensure your family’s well-being in the future. Once you have made a will, it is not out of sight out of mind. Even though it can be a tedious task, updating your will is a necessity.

How often do you need to revisit your will?

Guardian selections for minor children

Residents in Missouri with small children who develop wills and trusts to protect their financial assets have taken a very important step toward directing the future of their estate. However, dealing with debts and assets is not all that these people should do when preparing an estate plan. Parents of minor children should also identify guardianship plans for their children. This is no easy task but is just as important if not more so than outlining plans for assets.

Parenting magazine recommends that people select not only a primary guardian but also a secondary guardian. This will provide options should the primary person be unable to serve if and when the time is ever needed for any reason. When evaluating potential candidates to be a child's guardian, many people automatically consider their relatives. This may well be in the best interests of the children involved but it might also make sense to expand the set of candidates to close friends.

Avoiding the probate headache

Untangling an estate plan can prove to be a challenging task for any Missouri resident. Maximizing value of an estate, arranging plans for minor children and minimizing taxes are all factors that call for special attention and clarity. Unbeknownst to many, going to probate is not always a must. Instead, those looking to arrange estate plans can establish a trust that prevents this extra hassle. There are other essentials to be aware of when beginning this process, but an experienced professional can ensure that it is done the right way.

Sometimes, looking at the basics can help clarify what once seemed an overwhelming task. The Missouri Bar provides a resource that explains wills and estate planning in the state, stating that when it is time to consider a trust, the process involved generally consists of three parties: 

  • The settlor
  • The trustee
  • The beneficiary

I Found A Problem With My New Home, What Can I Do?

Residential real estate transactions in Missouri are not extensively governed by legal statutes. The homeowner has a limited responsibility to disclose defects in the house when selling the property. However, if you found a significant problem with your home after moving in recently, there are some things you can do to address it.

Beyond Caveat Emptor

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TdD Attorneys at Law LLC provides legal advice and representation for clients in St. Louis, Missouri, and communities throughout St. Louis County, St. Charles County and Jefferson County, including the cities of St. Charles, St. Peters and Chesterfield.