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March 2013 Archives

To trust or not to trust

In estate planning lingo, “to trust” has less to do with relying on someone and more to do with preparing an estate. There are many different types of “trusts,” but the most common two you may hear of are a “revocable living trust” and a “testamentary trust.” Both can effectively manage assets after your death, but the establishment is different.To establish a living revocable trust, you set it up now, or sometime during your life, and transfer your assets into the trust before you death – i.e. you retitle ownership of your home, your boat, and your beloved hunting shack into the name of the trust. Because it is a revocable living trust, you generally retain direct control of these assets. Done properly, you avoid probate. Setting up a living trust costs more on the front end but can help avoid probate expenses after your death.A testamentary trust is a trust established after your death – typically by your will. Your executor opens a probate to establish the trust. In certain situations, this may be more expensive and time consuming in the long run, but there is less room for error and requires less expense on the front end.If you want to discuss whether or not a trust is right for you, or have other estate planning questions, please stop in or call us at (320) 763-3141.

There's Been an Accident! Fault?

Minnesota Law permits persons injured in motor vehicle accidents to payment of reasonable and necessary medical expenses, wage loss, and replacement services without concern for who caused the accident. The injured person looks to their insurer to pay medical benefits up to $20,000, and income/replacement services costs up to $20,000. Insurers must offer insureds the right to increase ("stack") coverage to raise the maximum benefit amounts for an additional premium.Disputes over whether the medical treatment and replacement services are reasonable or necessary, or caused by the accident (for claims up to $10,000), are resolved by an arbitrator (usually a lawyer) selected by the parties whose decision is not subject to appeal.If the reasonable and necessary medical expenses exceed $4,000, or if there is permanent injury, the victim is entitled to sue the at-fault party to recover damages resulting from the accident.The lawyers at Swenson Lervick, rely on their combined 133 years of experience to assist injured persons in pursuing claims and can provide direction to persons injured in motor vehicle accidents. For answers concerning victims' rights and potential recourse, please feel free to contact a lawyer at Swenson Lervick, stop in or call us at (320) 763-3141.

Forget It. This Never Happened.

A dissolution, which is commonly called a divorce, is the most common way to legally end a marriage. If a judge grants an annulment, however, it is like the marriage never happened in the first place.An annulment can be granted on one of three grounds. The first ground is called lack of capacity, which means that one or both of the parties were unable to consent to the marriage because of mental illness, alcohol or drugs. If a party was forced or tricked into the marriage, that can also be grounds for claiming lack of capacity.The second reason a court may grant an annulment is called lack of physical capacity. This means that one party is unable to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse, and the other party was unaware of this incapacity at the time of the marriage.The third reason a court may grant an annulment is based on age. If one or both of the parties was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, and the underage party had not obtained the proper consent from a parent, guardian, or the court, the marriage can be annulled.Annulments and dissolutions of marriage are complex legal matters. If you have questions about an annulment or dissolution of marriage, stop in or call us at (320) 763-3141.

In the Spirit of Competition

It's tournament time in Minnesota, and that reminds me how much we relish competition. Sports, music, television and movies all compete for ratings and rewards. Even Aunt Sally's choke cherry jam might win a blue ribbon at the county fair. And in business, we have many laws designed to foster competition.So, how do "non-compete" agreements fit in our otherwise competitive business environment? Non-competes are agreements that prevent one party from competing against the other party. They are sometimes made between an employer and an employee when the employer does not want the employee to leave, take what s/he learned on the job, and then use it to the employer's disadvantage with a competitor. They are also used when the buyer of a business does not want the seller to go into competition after the sale.Because non-competes restrain trade, they are disfavored in Minnesota. However, they are enforceable if they are reasonable. Typically, this means that the courts will consider the duration, geographic scope and overall restrictions in the agreements before deciding whether they are reasonable. The courts will also consider whether the non-competes are part of bargained for deals between the parties; if not, the courts will throw them out.Even in our competitive business world, non-competes can be useful tools. For more information, stop in or call us at (320) 763-3141.

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