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Shakopee Legal Blog

Why every parent really needs to have an estate plan in place

When you find out you're expecting a kid, unsolicited baby supplies and advice start coming at you from every direction. People seem to have an opinion about what food you feed your baby, what kind of diapers you use and what kinds of toys you let your kid play with.

Fewer people are going to give you practical advice about very serious legal and financial concerns that every parent should consider. For example, finding out that you are about to become a parent means that you need to create an estate plan or at least a last will if you have not already done so. If you don't take action now, you could potentially leave your child in a vulnerable position in the future.

Do you need to modify your child support?

After the dust settles from a divorce, many parents find that their child support order is simply not a good fit for their needs or the needs of their child. Courts aim to create a fair arrangement that focuses on the best interests of the child, but circumstances can change rapidly for any parent, and it is always wise to look carefully at a child support order if it is unsustainable or insufficient.

If you face a child support conflict and need to seek an adjustment, be sure to create a strong legal strategy before you move forward. Courts take child support delinquency seriously, and if a parent chooses to make "unofficial" modifications to their support, this may result in serious legal consequences. By using strong legal resources and guidance as you need them, you can create a strategy that protects your rights and priorities.

Debunking common prenup myths

People use prenups more now than they used to, and the basic stigma around them has changed. Part of the reason may be the way that people now accept divorce as a possibility and a potential outcome, rather than a personal failing. They understand that divorce is sometimes the best option -- in cases of financial, emotional and even physical abuse, for instance -- and that it is statistically fairly likely. With this in mind, prenups are not a way to admit that your marriage will fail, but a way to protect yourself if it does.

However, it is often hard to change some of these deep-seated ideas, and this gives rise to a lot of myths since people have resisted prenups and do not understand them. Let's break down a few of those myths.

What's exempt from liquidation in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy could have you feeling like you're in the middle of a 1980s "rags to riches and back to rags again" type of movie. We all remember the scene from Rocky when the banks came to collect all of the expensive luxury items he had in his home. The thing is, bankruptcy isn't like this for most people, and you'll probably be surprised by the property that is exempt from liquidation.

Bankruptcy isn't meant to leave you penniless and possession-less. It's supposed to give you a fresh financial start on firm and solid ground, so you'll get to keep the things that are essential to your life. In most cases, you can keep your car, furniture, clothing and other necessities -- even some of the equity you've built up in your home.

Did you receive an unfair child custody decision?

Losing your child custody battle can be devastating, but if the judge who decided your case made an unlawful or unfair decision -- or if something went wrong during the litigation process that falls outside of the law -- you may be in a good position to appeal the results of your case. Although not many child custody decisions provide the factual backdrop to support a child custody decision appeal, these scenarios are not unheard of.

When can I file a child custody decision appeal?

What's the right kind of parenting plan for you and your family?

If you're a parent with young children who is facing divorce proceedings, one of the most important decisions on your mind probably relates to child custody. Should you adopt a 50-50 parenting structure where your children live with you half the time and your spouse the rest, giving your children the benefit of equal time with both their parents? Or, should you do an every-other-weekend plan and have your children live in one home?

Let's take a closer look at these two parenting agreement strategies, including the benefits and advantages of both:

My car was repossessed: Can I recover it?

If someone is late on his or her vehicle loan payments, it could result in the bank taking possession of the car. After the car loan goes into default, the bank will contract a repossession man or woman to arrive -- usually when you least expect it -- and commandeer your car.

Your bank has the legal right to repossess your car if you become delinquent on your loan. However, there's one way to stop vehicle repossession: Filing for bankruptcy.

When the Government Wants to Take (or Use) Your Property

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Many people have heard of condemned property, or eminent domain. That is the government's power to take or use privately owned property if it is for a "public purpose." Expansion of roads or construction of controlled access interchanges is generally considered a public purpose if conducted on public roadways. An example of one such project is that currently underway on Highways 169 and 41 in Scott County, Minnesota. Utilizing federal funding, Scott County is seeking to change access to U.S. Highway 169 by constructing overpasses and interchanges. To complete the project, Scott County will need to acquire and use adjacent property owned by private individuals and businesses.

Is there a good time of year to end a marriage?

According to a psychiatrist from the Advocate Medical Group, different times of the year could put more strain on a relationship than others. In fact, most Minnesota divorce lawyers will tell you that January and February are among the most popular times for couples to initiate their divorce proceedings. So, if you're considering divorce in the beginning of the year, you're not alone.

Start your estate planning now for peace of mind

There's always a new reason you can invent to avoid planning your estate or creating your last will. You may hope to add new members to your family or think about acquiring new assets in the next year or two, such as a vacation home. Surely, you tell yourself, it's better to wait to have that all handled before starting to create a will or estate plan.

In reality, your family and assets will always be in a state of flux. Babies are born, while other people leave via divorce or death. If you wait until nothing in your life is going to change to create a will, you won't ever get around to this critical task. If you plan to marry soon, have children or own substantial assets, such as a house, you should take the time to plan your estate now. You can always update it in the future.

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