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Lake Elmo Minnesota Legal Blog

Financial security throughout the divorce process

Financial security may be a concern for anyone in Minnesota who is going through a divorce. For people who are nearing or past retirement age or who have been a stay-at-home parent, this can be particularly true.

While a catastrophic illness or accident can happen to anyone, older people may be at a higher risk. This was the case with one couple in which the husband was 82 and in ill health during their divorce. If he had property that he did not want his wife to inherit and he died before the divorce was final, she might inherit it anyway. Couples may want to consider how they will handle issues such as these. Even for younger couples, insurance policies may be important in case of death or disability if one person is paying support to the other.

Why spendthrift trusts can be powerful estate planning tools

The use of a spendthrift trust could help ensure that families in Minnesota and elsewhere don't lose assets because of creditor claims. They can also prevent a beneficiary from squandering money or assets given to him or her by a parent or grandparent. A trustee is given authority to make distributions based on that person or entity's interpretation of the trust's language. Furthermore, the beneficiary would not be able to touch the principal inside of the trust.

Instead, he or she would be limited to using distributions from the trust. Creditors would only be able to take action to collect the amount of the distribution from the trust to the beneficiary. In the meantime, assets would continue to generate income that could be distributed to the beneficiary per its terms. To create such a document, an individual would create a traditional trust and add a provision declaring it to be a spendthrift trust.

Making the divorce transition easier on children

It's important for divorced parents in Minnesota to understand how to raise their children in nurturing and psychologically sound environments. From emotional issues to financial insecurity, divorce can have negative ramifications in a young child's life. However, divorced couples can protect their children by ensuring that the young ones have specific rights. For instance, parents can create a loving atmosphere for their kids by refusing to argue in their presence.

An ex should not express critical remarks about the other parent in front of the children. It's also unwise to openly blame the other parent for the divorce. Ultimately, kids want to feel close to their moms and dads. Children do not want to take sides unless one of the parents has demonstrated abusive behavior.

What are your rights when you're stopped for a DUI?

You’re driving home from the bar after having a few drinks when you see the flashing lights come on behind you. The natural reaction to noticing that a police officer is pulling you over is to panic. After having a few drinks, this feeling is likely amplified.

The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is remain calm. When a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of drinking and driving, he or she will search for probable cause. This search may include a variety of tests to prove whether you have been driving impaired.

Estate planning and blended families

People in Minnesota with blended families should make sure that their estate plans are regularly reviewed and updated, especially after a major life event such as the birth of children, marriage or divorce. If they fail to update their trusts, wills, insurance policies and other documents, it can result in their assets going to a party other than whom an individual wants it to. For example, instead of the assets being transferred into the ownership of the current spouse, they may be passed to an ex-spouse.

Critical legal documents, financial accounts and insurance policies should be updated if there is a change in marital status. If there are children from prior marriages or relationships, the appropriate measures should be taken to make sure that they are able to inherit the assets intended for them.

Understanding the penalties for a first DWI

A DWI conviction can come with serious penalties in Minnesota, even for people facing a first offense in an incident where no one was injured. To be arrested for DWI, an individual must usually be found in control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Of course, this applies to people pulled over while driving, but it can also apply to those found in their parked vehicles.

When people are convicted of drunk driving, they can face both criminal penalties and administrative sanctions. This is exacerbated if they have a BAC of 0.16 or more, twice the legal limit. In this case, even a first-time offender will be required to use an ignition interlock or lose their driving privileges for one or two years. In all cases, if people lose their driving privileges due to DWI, they must pay $680 to reinstate their license as well as presenting a driver's license application with fees and taking a DWI knowledge test.

Planning for co-parenting during the summer season

Parents in Minnesota may face some challenges adapting to co-parenting after divorce. It can always be difficult to move from parenting full time to sharing the process, especially after the parents' romantic relationship is no longer in place. For the children, changes in schedule and increased uncertainty can make the transition more troublesome. However, the school year can help smooth some of these concerns as it provides ongoing stability and a consistent schedule even as kids become accustomed to moving back and forth between their parents' homes. The summer can create its own challenges for co-parenting families, but parents can help to ease the process by keeping some tips in mind.

For starters, communication is just as important during the summer as it is during the academic year. The earlier that parents can work with one another to schedule vacations, family visits and other plans with the children, the easier the co-parenting process will be. When everyone involved knows what to expect, they can enjoy a more relaxed season. In addition, coordination is critical to parents sharing custody after divorce. Online shared calendars or posted visual calendars in both homes can help both parents and kids to keep track of planned events.

Beneficiary designations, IRAs and estate planning

Choosing the right beneficiary for an IRA is an important decision to make for people in Minnesota. Individuals who have no family may want to name a charity as beneficiary. Many people choose their spouses. A spouse who inherits an IRA has the same rights as the original owner, but no other beneficiary will. Other beneficiaries must begin taking distributions, which may have tax implications.

In some cases, a spouse may not need the retirement account. Some people may want to name their children as beneficiaries. Another option is to name the spouse as a primary beneficiary and the children as contingent beneficiaries. This gives the spouse the option of allowing the IRA to go directly to the children. Naming children as beneficiary per stirpes ensures that if a child dies, his or her heirs will get the asset.

Figuring out divorce-related alimony details

Alimony, or spousal support, is one of the big issues most people in Minnesota and other states associate with the divorce process. However, the exact needs of a lower-earning spouse after a marriage ends can't be determined until marital property and other joint assets are fully assessed and divided. Once it's clear what each soon-to-be-ex will end up with, the task of figuring out alimony details can begin.

While state laws concerning spousal support can vary, there are some common factors considered. In addition to the recipient spouse's financial needs, these factors include the paying spouse's ability to make alimony payments, the recipient spouse's previous lifestyle during marriage, the length of the marriage, and the age and overall health of both parting spouses. Courts also tend to consider whether minor children are involved and what non-marital assets a lower-earning spouse may have when determining if there's sufficient need for spousal assistance.

Consequences of DWI go beyond law

Duluth, Minnesota, Fire Chief Dennis Edwards submitted a letter of resignation and accepted a demotion after a drunk driving arrest in late March. Edwards will return to his previous position as assistant fire chief, and with it will take a substantial pay cut.

But Edwards’ story is not unique. Many people convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) will see consequences that go far beyond a fine, license suspension or even jail time. A DWI can affect your life in ways you might not have thought of.

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