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By Lauri Ann Schmid, Attorney.
These 2013 legal articles are from “Legally Speaking,” a syndicated column and appears in the Savage Pacer newspaper, Savage, MN.

DECEMBER

Not a Pretty Picture (12-30-13)

If you are a person with family responsibilities, you owe it to the ones you love to have a valid will. To more fully appreciate the ramifications of not doing so, consider your family’s picture without you in it. While it is sobering enough to think about the emotional challenge of such an unthinkable loss, imagine the legal consequences. The fact is that, in the absence of a will, the courts will distribute your property to your spouse and children under the intestate succession laws of the state. A state court judge will also determine who will supervise the distribution of your property. If you want a voice in your own affairs, make your will a top priority.

If you don’t have a will, it’s time to write one. Call our office today to make an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers. We’ll help you ensure that all your wishes are taken care of even after you’re gone. In addition to help with wills, we can also provide counsel for cases dealing with bankruptcy, trusts, corporate law, and real estate law. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an initial appointment to discuss the particulars of your case, please call 952-226-1202. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

P.S. While death is inevitable, confusion about your estate after you die does not have to be.

Can Bankruptcy Prevent Foreclosure? (12-16-13)

One significant feature of bankruptcy is the “automatic stay,” which immediately goes into effect and prevents creditors from continuing with collection activities. While an automatic stay will temporarily prevent a foreclosure, the creditor may be able to have the stay lifted and proceed with the foreclosure with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. On the other hand, the forfeiture can be permanently stopped with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is why many people file Chapter 13 to prevent their homes from being taken in foreclosure. The exception is that the automatic stay will not stop a foreclosure if a filer has filed another bankruptcy case within the past two years and the court, in that proceeding, lifted the stay.

If you are considering bankruptcy or dealing with a pending foreclosure, you need a good lawyer to explain your situation to you. Please call our office. Our lawyers have years of experience dealing with bankruptcies and foreclosures and we can provide both thoughtful counsel and compassion during this difficult time. Let us give you the good advice you need. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment to talk to one of our understanding attorneys, please call 952-226-1202. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: The law will not allow a person to prevent a foreclosure by filing serial bankruptcies.

Waiving Good-Bye (12-2-13)

A “waiver” is a voluntary relinquishment of a known right. One of the most common waivers frequently found in contracts used by large businesses involves the right to a jury trial. So-called jury waivers, which require people to give up the right to have cases heard by their peers, are now appearing in a wide range of routine contracts. This right is often waived because jury trials are more expensive, complicated, and time-consuming than trials in which judges make both the legal and factual decisions. In the business world, where time is money, these factors work against a jury trial. Businesses are also wary of the seeming predisposition for juries to be more sympathetic to the “little guy,” at least initially.

Of course, before you sign any contract waiving any right, you want to have an experienced lawyer read and explain it. Waiving your right to a jury might be good sense or it might be a bad idea. Our attorneys have years of experience with a wide variety of cases, including contract law, and we will work hard in your best interests. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an initial appointment to discuss the particulars of your case, please call 952-226-1202. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: Waiving the right to a jury trial is common in contracts such as residential leases, mortgage agreements, and auto loans.

NOVEMBER

A Challenging Possibility (11-18-13)

When you draw up your will, you will most likely do so with the goal of leaving everyone happy. However, that is not always the way that things turn out. Some wills are challenged, usually owing to the fact that someone is disappointed with his or her inheritance. Of course, a challenge to a will is more likely if people of equal family status are treated differently, or if someone is being disinherited. One way to circumvent the possibility of a challenge involves including a “no contest” clause in your will. According to this clause, anyone who challenges the will in court will lose any inheritance that might otherwise have been provided to him or her.

Do you have any questions about wills and no contest clauses? Our lawyers have years of experience dealing with a wide variety of estate planning issues, from simple wills to complex trusts. We are happy to answer all your questions and provide you with the legal counsel that you need to ensure your wishes are fulfilled after you’re gone. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: Before you add a no-contest clause to your will, consult with your attorney about whether it is likely to be upheld (as a squabble preventer) or discouraged by the court (as potentially preventing a legitimate challenge).

Advance Health Care Directives (11-4-13)

According to a recent large study, terminal cancer patients who have end-of-life discussions with their doctors appear to enjoy better quality of life in their final days, as well as pay less for health care. This discussion is often referred to as the “multi-million-dollar conversation” because it is usually likely to shift costs away from expensive, non-curative care (such as being on a ventilator) to less costly comfort care provided by a hospice or hospital. This entire issue can be addressed even earlier by using an “advance health care directive.” The directive is a document, prepared in advance, that instructs others about a person’s end-of-life care when/if he or she becomes unable to make his or her own decisions.

If you have any questions about advanced health care directives, or about any aspect of estate planning, you need to call our office. Our attorneys have years of experience with a wide variety of estate planning issues, including wills, trusts, and advanced health care directives. We are proud to provide personalized service for all of our clients. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an initial appointment to discuss the particulars of your situation, please call 952-226-1202. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: An advance health care directive allows individuals to appoint a health care agent who will have the legal authority to make health care decisions for them if they are no longer able to speak for themselves.

OCTOBER

Can You Collect, If You Quit Your Job? (10-21-13)

With all the job uncertainty employees are experiencing during the current economic downturn, it helps to know what your rights are concerning unemployment benefits if you lose your job. The fact is that not all individuals faced with job loss are entitled to collect. You are only eligible for unemployment benefits if you suffer job loss through no fault of your own. If you quit or resign from a job, you can collect unemployment benefits only if you did so for “good cause.” In this respect, the law requires the reason to be “compelling,” such as being faced with some sort of harm or injury had you remained employed. In some cases, it may take a lawyer to prove your point.

Do you have any questions about unemployment benefits and the nuances of “good cause”? Do you have any questions about other aspects of employment law? Our attorneys can provide you with all that as well as the personalized attention that you deserve during this difficult time. In addition to cases dealing with employment law, we also take cases that deal with estate planning, wills and trusts, and contract law. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment to speak to one of our friendly attorneys. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: You can receive unemployment benefits if you were terminated due to cutbacks or not being a good fit for the job. There are no benefits for those fired for misconduct.

When You’re Fired (10-7-13)

Losing a job is a very serious matter for all concerned. The fact is that employees who are employed “at will” can be fired by an employer for any reason that is not illegal (i.e., on the basis of race, religion, etc., or exercising a legal right). However, if an employee has an employment contract, the terms of the contract largely spell out the conditions under which he or she can be fired. Other contracts leave the issue open, which means that the law usually says that an employee can only be fired for legitimate, business-related reasons (sometimes referred to as “just cause”). Those with questions about their termination of employment may want to talk with a lawyer.

Do you have any questions about an aspect of business or contract law, either as an employee or as an employer? If so, make an appointment at our office to talk with one of our experienced lawyers. We will provide the thoughtful and personalized service you deserve during this difficult time. In addition to help with business or contract law, we provide counsel for issues dealing with wills, trusts, and real estate law. If you have any questions, please call our offices at 952-226-1202. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: If you decide to challenge the legality of a firing, it helps to carefully document what happened. Doing so places you in a better position to enforce all your workplace rights.

SEPTEMBER

Reviewing A Contract (9-23-13)

Contracts are legally binding agreements that should not be treated casually. Key elements of any contract include the parties involved, the duration of the contract, and how to prematurely end it. While many contracts are now written in language that laymen can understand, many others are written in archaic language that is not easily understood. Particular attention must be paid to anything involving money and dates, such as whether a contract becomes void if a delivery date is not met. Other important terms include “nonrefundable,” “default,” and “automatic renewal.” Such phrases as “time is of the essence” and “reasonable man standard” introduce a whole body of law defining them, which a lawyer should review.

Clearly, it’s vital that you have your own lawyer take a look at any legally binding contract before you sign it. Our attorneys can answer all your contract questions in a friendly and straightforward manner. We take cases that deal with a variety of legal areas, including estate planning, wills and trusts, and contract law. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment to speak to one of our friendly attorneys. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: To be legally binding as a contract, a promise must be exchanged for adequate consideration.

Dispute Resolution After The Sale Of A Business (9-9-13)

Business owners who find themselves in the position of selling their businesses should know that disputes sometimes arise after the comprehensive sales agreement has been signed. It is only natural to expect minor, and even major, disagreements between the old owner and the new. The best way to handle such matters is directly. However, mutually agreeable settlements are not always possible, in which case litigating the matter can be expected to be costly and emotionally draining. With this in mind, it may be best that the sales agreement contain an agreement between the old and new buyers to submit disputes to mediation. If that doesn’t result in a settlement, the parties can further agree to submit the matter to arbitration.

As a small business owner, it’s important to have a thoughtful and reliable lawyer on hand for dealing with the issues that always arise when you’re dealing with money. Our lawyers will provide the thoughtful and personalized service you deserve, whether you’re setting up a new business or selling an old one. In addition to help with business, we provide counsel for issues dealing with estate planning, wills, trusts, and real estate law. If you have any questions, please call our offices at 952-226-1202 for an appointment. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: Mediation involves enlisting a neutral third party to arrive at a voluntary settlement; arbitration empowers a neutral third party to listen to both sides and arrive at a binding solution.

AUGUST

Going Out on A Limb (8-26-13)

If you are concerned that a neighbor’s tree poses a danger, the “right of self-help” allows you to cut off the offending branches up to the boundary line between properties. However, you may not go onto the neighbor’s property when trimming unless imminent danger makes it necessary to do so. Neither are you permitted to cut down the tree or destroy it. On the other hand, if you are unable to remedy the situation yourself, you are better off asking the tree’s owner to fix the problem. If the neighbor is warned of the danger that the tree poses and chooses to do nothing about it, he or she will probably be liable for any resulting damage.

A legal fight with a neighbor over a tree can seem trivial but the damage a fallen tree can cause is anything but trivial. Our attorneys can offer you the help you need to deal with this problem without becoming acrimonious. We provide a balanced range of legal services combined with a singular commitment to our clients. We take cases that deal with a variety of legal areas, including bankruptcy, estate planning wills, trusts, corporate law, real estate law, and neighborly disputes. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment to speak to one of our friendly attorneys. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: If you want an order requiring your neighbor to eliminate the danger that an unsound tree poses, you may have to sue in court with the help of a lawyer.

An Undeniable Fact (8-12-13)

While we may try to avoid the unpleasant truth that death spares no one, it is best to be prepared for the inevitable. Yet, according to one recent survey, two-thirds of Americans have no will. While some circumstances may lend themselves to wills written by computer programs, an attorney can point out details and pose scenarios that the average person might not consider. Taking these factors into account helps to clarify a person’s intentions, thereby ensuring the desired outcome. With this in mind, the more complex a person’s circumstances, the more he or she stands to benefit from having a lawyer draw up his or her will. Blended families, ex-spouses, and other special conditions warrant professional advice.

As a responsible adult, it’s vital to your family’s well being that you have a thoughtful will. Even if it’s unpleasant to consider, you’ll feel better knowing that your loved ones are taken care of. Our lawyers will provide thoughtful and personalized service you deserve when you’re dealing with such a complex and sensitive issue. In addition to help with wills, we provide counsel for issues dealing with family law, probate, and real estate law. If you have any questions, please call our offices at 952-226-1202 for an appointment. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: If your estate is worth more than the $5 million federal exemption pertaining to gifts that you may give to others upon your death, you should discuss estate planning with an attorney.

JULY

Sense of Fair Play (7-29-13)

Neither side in a lawsuit is permitted to have information that the other side does not possess. Thus, before a civil trial begins, both parties are entitled to find out the factual basis for each other’s claims or defenses. During this “discovery” process, each side has the right to ask about the existence of the other’s documents and witnesses, as well as any other supporting evidence. Each side attains this information by asking questions orally during a “deposition,” which involves placing a person under oath and asking questions about his or her best recollection of the facts. Discovery ensures a “level playing field” upon which both sides operate with the same information. There should be no surprises for either side.

Do you have any questions about discovery or depositions? Our attorneys can answer all your questions in a friendly and straightforward manner. We take cases that deal with a variety of legal areas, including contract law, estate planning, wills and trusts, and business law. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment to speak to one of our friendly attorneys. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: In a civil case, an “interrogatory” is a set of written questions that one litigant requires be answered by an adversary.

Under Duress? (7-15-13)

More than 100 years ago, signing a contract “under duress” might have meant that a contract was mentally or physically coerced. These days, of course, the threat of physical force is not so likely to be used to induce a contract. However, it sometimes happens that economic duress (also known as “business compulsion”) may emerge as a means of making someone agree to a contract. For instance, a supplier may raise the price of goods to a customer who is in desperate need of them. In this case, the threatened party must not only show that the supplier threatened to breach the contract, but also that the customer had no other source for the goods specified in the contract.

Business law and contract law are clearly complex areas. If you have any questions, you need to call a lawyer with experience and expertise in the field. Our lawyers will provide thoughtful and personalized service to deal with all your legal issues, including business, contract, and probate law. If you have any questions, please call our offices at 952-226-1202 for an appointment. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: If a party to a contract is found by the court to have acted under duress, the innocent party may rescind the contract and claim damages.

Managing Your Finances When You Cannot (7-1-13)

A “power of attorney for finances” is a legal document that allows a person of your choosing to manage your finances on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated. The first step in seeing that your wishes will be carried out is to select a competent and trustworthy agent. To guard against abuse of powers of attorney, you can build checks and balances into the document, such as requiring the agent to provide periodic accountings to a third party or having another individual sign off on any gifts of your property. While you are of sound mind, it is also possible to name a new agent or revoke the power of attorney for any reason.

Assigning a power of attorney for finances is just one part of thoughtful estate planning. It’s a complex process that requires advice from an experienced attorney. Our attorneys can provide you with the counsel that you need to make certain that your wishes are carried out, no matter what. We can help with all aspects of estate planning, as well as issues pertaining to corporate law and real estate law. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: To avert future potential problems, it is advisable to have any financial institutions with which you do business review your power of attorney document and ask if they find it acceptable.

JUNE

Down The Home Stretch (6-17-13)

If you are behind on your mortgage payments and file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the mortgage lender will almost certainly ask the bankruptcy court to allow it to begin (or resume) foreclosure proceedings. Alternately, if you are behind on your mortgage payments and want to keep your home, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is certainly preferable. However, you must have enough disposable income to propose a plan that involves making regular payments on your mortgage and pays off whatever you owe in arrears in a reasonable amount of time. If the lender has already started to foreclose, you can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and make up the missed payments, reinstate the loan, and continue making payments under the original contract.

If you’re wrestling with debts, foreclosure notices, or decisions about Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it’s clear that you have a lot on your mind. You deserve expert advice. Our lawyers have years of experience dealing with a wide variety of legal issues, including those that pertain to foreclosure and bankruptcy. We provide the expertise you need and the discretion and compassion that you deserve. If you have any questions, please call our offices at 952-226-1202 for an appointment. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: Chapter 13 bankruptcy will not help if your home was already foreclosed upon and sold.

A Matter of Trust (6-3-13)

Because it is time-consuming and relatively costly, many people adopt various strategies that will help them avoid probate (the legal process by which the estate of a deceased person is settled). One such probate-avoiding vehicle, called the “living trust,” is so named because it is created when a person is alive. Holding property in trust poses no legal consequences while the creator of the living trust is alive, and the property held in the trust transfers to the family and friends to whom it is left after death. The terms of the trust document, which is similar to a will, authorize the trustee to conduct this transfer, and probate courts have no legal authority over property held in trust.

Do you have any questions about how a living trust can help you preserve your estate? Our experienced attorneys have years of experience with all aspects of estate planning, from wills to trusts, and we can help you plan for all eventualities. We pride ourselves on thoughtful advice and friendly service for all of our clients. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: A living trust does not eliminate the need for a will because no one can reasonably expect that everything he or she owns will be included in the trust.

MAY

Trusting in Yourself (5-20-13)

A “living trust” is a document that provides detailed guidelines regarding how your property should be managed in the event that you were to become incapacitated. It involves the transfer of your investments, real estate, and other assets into the trust with yourself named as trustee, which enables you to maintain control of your property. By naming one or more successor trustees, you also have people standing by who can manage your property if you become incapacitated. Detailed instructions should also be included about how the money should be spent for your hospitalization and/or long-term care. The living trust remains in force after your death and enables the successor trustee to transfer property to beneficiaries without probate.

Living trusts are a powerful tool but, like all powerful tools, they require finesse and experience to use properly. If you have any questions about living trusts, or any aspect of estate planning, you need to call our office. Our lawyers have years of experience dealing with all aspects of estate planning, from simple wills to complex living trusts. If you have any questions, please call our offices at 952-226-1202 for an appointment. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: While you remain mentally competent, you can revise or revoke a living trust.

Neighborly Advice (5-6-13)

When disagreements arise between neighbors, it is preferable to try to work things out by talking directly and amiably to those responsible for disturbing activities. Of course, this approach does not always work, in which case, those offended by a neighbor’s action should familiarize themselves with local ordinances that provide protection under the law. It may also help to know if other neighbors are similarly affected by the actions of the neighbor in question. If so, enlisting their help may help to convince the offending neighbor that the problem is not an isolated one. Even in cases where there is not a relevant law, neighbors who unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment of another’s property can be sued.

Do you have any questions about today’s column, or about any legal issue? If so, please call our office. Our attorneys have years of experience with a wide variety of legal issues, from wills and estates to bankruptcy and neighborly disputes. We pride ourselves on thoughtful advice and friendly service for all of our clients. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment. Our address is Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: When a neighbor does something that is unreasonable or unlawful that interferes with the use and enjoyment of a nearby residence, the neighbor can be sued for creating a “private nuisance.”

APRIL

Going Through The Motions (4-22-13)

Prior to going to trial, it is common for parties in a civil case to file certain motions with the court. These pre-trial motions are requests that the court make a decision regarding some issue in the case. Commonly, motions are filed that ask the court to allow a plaintiff to amend a complaint, or which ask the court to order the other party to comply with discovery requests. Another common motion involves asking the court to dismiss the charges against a particular defendant. Prior to trial, conferences may also be called to allow both sides to discuss the issues of the case. These pre-trial conferences are intended to lessen delays in trial proceedings.

If you have any questions about today’s column, or about any aspect of our legal system, please call our office today. Our attorneys provide a balanced range of legal services combined with a singular commitment to our clients. We are positive and energetic, responding to our clients’ needs with clarity, diligence, and integrity. If you would like to make an appointment, please call our offices at 952-226-1202. Our firm works out of Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: Either party in a civil case can file a motion for summary judgment, which requests the court to decide the case on the merits prior to trial because there are no disputed facts.

All In The Execution (4-8-13)

Those appointed executors of estates must abide by certain laws, regulations, standards, and guidelines while probating the estate of the deceased who appointed them. While the process is not necessarily complex, it helps to have some knowledge and experience when filing a petition in probate court to have the deceased’s will validated, notifying creditors, and closing off the estate by filing the necessary papers before making distributions to beneficiaries. Because one small error can set the whole process back, most people tend to engage the services of a lawyer to assist them with the probate process. Having someone on the executor’s side who has encountered just about every conceivable problem can help greatly to speed the process along.

Are you wrestling with the complex job of estate executor? Are you worried about deciding who should be your executor? Either way, you need the advice of an attorney who has experience with all aspects of estate planning and wills. You need to call our office. Our attorneys have years of experience with all the problems and complications that can arise during the execution of a will. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment. Our address is 6001 Egan Drive, Suite 140, Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: The document issued by the probate court appointing an executor to commence probate of a deceased person’s estate is known as the “letter of authority.”

MARCH

Trusted Advice (3-25-13)

For whatever reason a parent might have in mind to disinherit a child, he or she should be cautioned that children who are omitted from wills are likely to sue for their inheritances. They are not likely to win their lawsuits, but their legal actions may well prove so costly to the other children that they find it less burdensome to settle with the disinherited sibling. With this in mind, parents who entertain thoughts of omitting children from their inheritance plans may want to think instead about putting the child’s share of the estate in a trust. Then, the parents can spell out when and how their estranged child can get any money or income from the trust.

Writing a will can be hard enough. Writing a will when dealing with the implications of an estranged child can be exhausting and complicated. If you have any questions about how to write a will or any other aspect of estate planning, please call our offices at 952-226-1202 for an appointment. In addition, we also provide counsel dealing with bankruptcy, estate planning, wills, trusts, and real estate laws. Our address is 6001 Egan Drive, Suite 140, Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: If there is a potentially controversial element in your will, you may want to discuss the matter with your heirs beforehand or write an explanatory letter to accompany your will.

Preventing Foreclosure (3-11-13)

In recent times, we have seen that some people have debt problems so severe that they’re threatened with foreclosure on their homes. When faced with this frightening prospect, homeowners may want to consult with an attorney about possible defenses to foreclosure. For instance, it may be possible to show that a lender made false or deceptive representations about the loan. If homeowners find themselves with high-interest loans, or they were not told the truth about the loan, a lawyer may be able to help. Otherwise, an attorney may prove helpful in working out a solution with the lender that satisfies both parties. It is in everyone’s best interest that the homeowner remains in the home and that payments are made.

If you have any questions about foreclosure, or about bankruptcy, please call our office. Our attorneys provide a balanced range of legal services combined with a singular commitment to our clients. We are positive and energetic, responding to our clients’ needs with clarity, diligence, and integrity. In addition to help with foreclosures, we offer counsel for issues dealing with estate planning, contract law, and business law. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment. Our address is 6001 Egan Drive, Suite 140, Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: The state requires that lenders follow certain procedures when foreclosing on a home. Homeowners in this difficult situation should make it a point to see that they are followed.

FEBRUARY

Legal Issues Without The Drama (2-25-13)

Many of us are accustomed to seeing legal issues played out on TV and in the movies. If not murder, the plot may revolve around a class action suit against a corporate outlaw. In any case, there is likely to be high drama in the courtroom. While such cases do occur, the average person usually has a much less dramatic involvement with the law. In fact, most people’s acquaintance with legal issues is limited to real estate matters. That is, people are far more likely to engage the services of an attorney to handle the purchase or sale of a home than to sue a corporate polluter. With this in mind, whom would you call if you needed a lawyer?

You should call our office. Our thoughtful attorneys have years of experience dealing with a wide variety of legal issues, including estate planning wills, trusts, corporate law, and real estate law. We can provide you with the expert counsel you want and the thoughtful personal service that you need. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call 952-226-1202. Our address is 6001 Egan Drive, Suite 140, Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: At the very least, everyone should have a family lawyer to handle wills and consult with about liability matters.

What If? (2-11-13)

If a person becomes incapable of managing his or her affairs due to illness, disease, injury, or old age, it has been traditionally necessary to go to court to get a conservator of his or her estate appointed. Because conservator proceedings can be lengthy, expensive, and emotionally challenging, it’s certainly preferable to avoid the necessity of this procedure by signing a “power of attorney” before such need arises. This document gives another person the right to act on the grantor’s behalf. While “ordinary” power of attorney ends with the incapacitation of the grantor, a “durable” power of attorney enables the individual holding the power of attorney to act and/or make decisions on behalf of the grantor until the grantor’s death.

Thinking ahead to your old age isn’t pleasant, but it can be very important for you and for your loved ones. If you would like to do the responsible thing and plan ahead, please call our office. Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with all aspects of estate planning, including writing powers of attorney, and we will work with you to be certain that you and your family are as prepared as possible. In addition, we can help with trusts and wills. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment. Our address is 6001 Egan Drive, Suite 140, Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: “Limited” power of attorney permits the designated individual to handle a specific situation for the grantor.

JANUARY

Non-Competing Interests (1-28-13)

If you are considering selling your business here or elsewhere, you should find out if the state where the transaction will occur allows “non-compete agreements.” These agreements expect the seller to agree not to compete after the business is sold. Even in some states that allow non-compete agreements, to be enforceable, such agreements must be strictly limited by time, geography, and scope. This is because judges are not overly willing to restrict a person’s right to earn a living despite the buyer’s insistence that you not go into a competing business that will cut into his or her income. Before signing such agreements, sellers should know how much they are being compensated and how much it will restrict them.

Business and contract issues are clearly a subtle and complex area of the law. That’s why, if you have any legal questions about a contract, you should call our office. Our experienced attorneys have spent years learning the intricacies and nuances of our state’s law. let us use the knowledge to make sure that you get a fair deal in all your contracts and transactions. In addition to contract law, we also provide counsel for issues involving family law, real estate, and estate planning. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call 952-226-1202. Our address is 6001 Egan Drive, Suite 140, Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: Those planning to retire or go into a completely different kind of work may have no problem signing a non-compete clause.

Hard Realities of Will Software (1-14-13)

If you are finally thinking about drawing up a will, you may be tempted to purchase a software product that costs less than what a lawyer might charge. While these products are designed to guide you through an interview with the goal of identifying your intentions, they may have limitations that render them suitable only to those with the simplest set of circumstances. They may have outdated information or insufficient detail regarding state estate law. Will software may also be so inflexible that it doesn’t allow you to distribute property in exactly the way you intend, or it may be so flexible that you may add clauses that contradict other parts in the will. Your family deserves better.

If you feel it’s important for your estate to be divided up according to your wishes, and not according to some generic piece of software, then you need to call our office. Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with all aspects of estate planning, including writing complex wills, and we will work with you to be certain that your wishes are carried out after you’re gone. In addition, we can help with trusts, living wills, and power of attorney. If you have any questions, call 952-226-1202 to make an appointment. Our address is 6001 Egan Drive, Suite 140, Savage, MN. Multiple Services. Singular Commitment.

HINT: A do-it-yourself will may be incomplete in that it doesn’t address the creation of a special-needs trust or the specifics of compensating an executor, all questions that a lawyer would likely address.

Are You an Employee or Independent Contractor?

Are you working in the construction industry or do you know someone who is? Well, there are new laws going into effect that will apply to individuals who provide “public or private sector commercial or residential building construction or improvement services.” The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry will begin requiring independent contractor exemption certificates for work performed by individuals as of January 1, 2009. If you or someone you know falls into this category, read on.

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LLCs — Who Needs ‘Em?

As a real estate attorney, I have many clients who want to invest in rental property but don’t know what the first step is after they have decided which property to purchase. I typically will recommend that the client start an LLC (Limited Liability Company) to be the purchaser of the property or to transfer already purchased properties into the entity’s name.

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Health Care Directives — Why the Big Fuss?

Health care directives allow us to express our wishes as to medical treatment in terminal-illness or injuries, and to appoint someone to speak on our behalf in the event we cannot speak for ourselves.

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To Be Or Not To Be … (A Landlord, That Is)

Being a landlord can be a good investment, but it can become a headache if not dealt with correctly. Know what you can and cannot do, have a procedure in place, and know where you can go for answers. Once you have a few rentals under your belt, it will get easier.

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