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Legal Articles

Medical Testimony, Experts

Depending on the nature of the case (e.g., medical malpractice, trust/will challenges for lack of capacity or undue influence, etc.), medical testimony is often crucial. The qualification of a physician as an expert is generally within the trial court’s substantial discretion. Ponciroli v. Wyrick, 573 S.W.2d 731, 735 (Mo.Ct.App.1978). Generally, a practicing physician, even when […]

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Maintenance: Pension, IRAs, Retirement Accounts

Pensions, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s and other retirement savings plans and tax advantaged plans are often a core part of someone’s net worth. In the context of a divorce, depending on when the assets were accumulated, they are subject to an equitable division between spouses. To avoid tax problems, a Court will typically enter […]

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Contractual Consideration

The three basic components of a contract are offer, acceptance and consideration. When these things exist can change depending on the nature of the parties (e.g., UCC, merchants). While the concepts of offer and acceptance are relatively straightforward to a non-lawyer, consideration is often not. Consideration is either a promise (to do or refrain from […]

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Joint Ownership, Probate, Non-Probate Transfer

Typically, only assets that a deceased individual solely owns without a beneficiary designation must pass through probate. Because of this, trusts are often implemented to circumvent probate. Other than trusts, co-ownership arrangements or non-probate transfers are frequently utilized to avoid probate. A non-probate transfer (e.g., transfer on death, payable on death) operates to where the […]

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Partnership Dissolution

A general partnership typically exists when two or more persons carry on a business as co-owners for profit. Stuart v. Overland Medical Center, 510 S.W.2d 494, 497 (Mo. Ct. App. 1974). It is more specifically defined as a “a contract of two or more competent persons to place their money, effects, labor and skill, or […]

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Best Evidence Rule, Original Documentation

The best evidence rule generally requires that only original documentation may be admitted as evidence at trial to show the terms of the document/writing. A duplicate is not admissible under the best evidence rule. Interstate Distrib., Inc. v. Freeman, 904 S.W.2d 481,, 484 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995). It is a narrow rule and only applies […]

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Voidable Transactions, Trustee Conflicts of Interests, Duty of Loyalty

A trustee owes a fiduciary duty to a beneficiary. Therefore, a trustee is generally not permitted to enter into any transaction that is a conflict between the trustee’s personal interests and fiduciary responsibilities, unless (1) the transaction was authorized by the trust, (2) approved by the Court, (3) consented to or ratified by the beneficiaries, […]

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Transfer in Fraud of Marital Rights, Disability/Minors

To prevail on a transfer in fraud of marital rights claim, a plaintiff/surviving spouse needs to show that the deceased spouse “gave away his [or her] property without consideration with the intent and purpose of defeating…marital rights.” Nelson v. Nelson, 512 S.W.2d 455, 459 (Mo. Ct. App. 1974). Section 474.150.2, RSMo states that there is […]

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Trust Reformation, Mistake

Reformation is usually used in the context of a contract between two parties to correct a mistake and reform the contract to meet the parties’ intentions. It is, in other words, a court ordering a quasi re-writing, amendment and/or modification of a contract or written instrument. By way of example, reformation of a contract based […]

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Law of the Case Doctrine, Re-litigation

There are numerous legal theories and arguments which prohibit the re-litigation of certain issues that were previously decided (e.g, collateral estoppel, res judicata). One such theory — the “law-of-the-case doctrine” — dictates that a previous holding or finding in a case constitutes the law of the case and precludes re-litigation of the issue on remand […]

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