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Quick Links:
BUSINESS FORMATION
EMPLOYMENT LAW
ESTATE PLANNING
FAMILY LAW
PERSONAL INJURY
REAL ESTATE


BUSINESS FORMATION

Minnesota recognizes a variety of entities, such as a C-Corporation, S-Corporation or Limited Liability Company, which may or may not be appropriate for your business. Choosing the appropriate entity for your business depends upon a number of legal and tax considerations. Therefore our firm recommends you seek the advice of an attorney and accountant in choosing the appropriate entity for your business. Entities, such as limited liability partnerships, which provide liability protection for the owners and operators, require the completion of documents specific to the entity type to obtain recognition from the Minnesota Secretary of State. Also, depending upon the entity, documents may need to be filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Although forms for these organizing documents may be found online, the advice of an attorney can assist you in making certain that your organizing documents contain the provisions most appropriate to meet your business' needs.

Among the issues you could discuss with your attorney include:

Reasons to Incorporate:
  • I want to start a business, and would like some liability protection, how can I achieve that goal?
  • What is "limited liability" and why is it important?
  • Are there any drawbacks to operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership?

Types of Business Entities Recognized in Minnesota:

  • What are the differences between a C-Corporation, S-Corporation, Limited Liability Company and Limited Liability Partnership?
  • How do I decide which choice of entity is appropriate for my business?
  • How are corporations different from partnerships, sole proprietorships and LLCs?
  • What are the advantages of creating an LLC to own real-estate?

Incorporating / Forming Business Organizations:
  • What documents are required to incorporate a business or form an limited liability company?
  • What information should be included in the by-laws, member control agreements and operating agreements?
  • What documents need to be filed to remain in good standing?

Names:
  • How do I choose a name for my business?
  • How can I protect my business name?
  • If I do business under a different name than the formal name of my business, what filings do I have to make?

Exit Issues:
  • What happens if one partner wants to leave the partnership?

Find an Attorney:
R. Craft Dryer
Mark L. Knutson
Gerald A. Pommerville




EMPLOYMENT LAW

Understanding your rights under the law as an employee and an employer can be difficult because your situation may involve the overlap of a number of legal areas, such as contracts and statutory rights. The advice of an experienced attorney may be helpful to both employers and employees. For example, employers who understand appropriate interview questions and reasons for firing an employee may avoid litigation. For an employee, an understanding of the rights provided by the law is the first step to actually exercising those rights.

Attorney assistance can be especially important in negotiating and interpreting employment contracts. Depending upon the circumstances, it may be possible to negotiate the contract and change the terms so that they are more fair to you. Even if the other side is not willing to change the contract, an attorney can tell you what your rights and obligations are. Sometimes it is not worth agreeing to a contract if it is too unfair. If you do end up agreeing to a contract which the other side is not willing to change, it may be helpful to know what your rights and obligations are so that you can plan for the future.

Among the issues you could discuss with your attorney include:

Hiring Process:
  • What laws must employers follow when hiring new employees?
  • What should employers be aware of in conducting job interviews?
  • What types of questions may imply discrimination?
  • What is "need-to-know" and how does it apply to job interviews?
  • Do I have to advertise open positions?
  • If I know that an applicant used to have a problem with drugs or alcohol, can I refuse to hire him on that basis?
  • Is it ever acceptable to consider an applicant's disability during the hiring process?
  • Am I allowed to ask someone if they are an illegal alien?
  • Can I refuse to hire someone simply because I don't like him or her?

Employment Contracts:
  • If I have an employment contract, do I have more rights than if I did not have an employment contract?
  • What is "employment at will?"
  • Does "employment at will" apply to me and my employer?
  • What is a non-compete agreement?

Minimum Wage:
  • Do the minimum wage laws apply to small businesses?
  • Do I have to pay minimum wage to employees who receive tips?

Overtime:
  • Can an employer and employee agree to waive overtime pay?
  • Can I give my employees time off instead of paying them overtime?
  • Do I have to pay my managers overtime?
  • Do I have to pay my employees for travel time?
  • What rights does an employer have to investigate something an employee may have done?

Employer Issues:
  • What records do I need to keep in the personnel file?
  • Can employers monitor their employees' Internet usage or read their e-mail?
  • When is an employer required to investigate a complaint made by an employee?

Independent Contractor:
  • What is an independent contractor?
  • What is the difference between an independent contractor and an employee?

Termination:
  • How do I fire someone?
  • Can I fire an employee for any reason?
  • Do I have to give a fired employee a severance package?
  • If I am terminated, what are the proper and improper grounds for termination?
  • Is termination different in public sector employment?
  • If I am a veteran are my rights different?

Employment Discrimination:
  • What is employment discrimination?
  • What are the major federal anti-discrimination laws?
  • Do the anti-discrimination laws protect only women and minorities?
  • How do I know if an action is discriminatory in violation of the law?
  • Besides hiring, what other aspects of the employment relationship are regulated by the anti-discrimination laws?
  • As an individual with a disability, how am I protected from discrimination in the workplace?
  • What should I do if I think I have been discriminated against in violation of the law?
  • How do I know if my state has an enforcement agency?
  • What is the EEOC?
  • What role will the EEOC play in my lawsuit?
  • What information should be included in my charge?
  • What happens once I file a charge with the EEOC?
  • If the EEOC files a lawsuit on my behalf, can I still sue separately?
  • What are the statutes of limitations imposed under Title VII, ADA and the Minnesota Human Rights Act?

Sexual Harassment:
  • What is sexual harassment?
  • How can an employee make a claim of sexual harassment?

Employment Laws:
  • What is the Equal Pay Act?
  • Do I need to keep any forms proving that my employees are legally allowed to work in this country?
  • Are employers required by law to honor wage garnishment orders?

Leaves of Absence:
  • Who qualifies for leave under the Family Medical and Leave Act?
  • Does the FMLA entitle an employee to paid leave?
  • What if I need to leave for sick children?
  • What is military leave?

Unions:
  • How do workers go about attempting to receive union representation?
  • How does a grievance work?

Employee Benefits:
  • What is COBRA insurance?
  • How many sick days am I entitled?
  • Does an employer have to grant me paid sick leave?
  • Does an employer have to grant me paid vacation?
  • Will I lose my job if I have to go to jury duty?
  • How many hours am I entitled to for a funeral leave?

Find an Attorney:
Elizabeth A. Storaasli
Mark L. Knutson




ESTATE PLANNING

We believe that a knowledgeable attorney is of great assistance in properly drafting estate planning documents. Although estate planning software or Internet forms are available, they are no replacement for the advice of an experienced attorney. Estate planning software may not apply to Minnesota Law, even if the software indicates that it does. If you are drafting a will on your own, or using software to help you do so, there may be terms with specific legal meanings and consequences that you do not understand; an attorney can explain these legal terms and consequences to you. If you make errors in these documents, you may not know about them while you are alive; then your heirs and attorneys, at considerable cost and trouble, must deal with these issues after you are gone. We suggest that it is worthwhile having a knowledgeable attorney assist you with these documents so as to avoid those possible kinds of problems.

Among the issues which an attorney might discuss with you are:

Wills and Trusts:
  • Do I need a will? If I do not have a will ("intestate") what would happen?
  • I have a will, but it was made a long time ago, do I need a new one? Have there been any changes in the tax laws or other laws that affect my existing will?
  • If I move to another state, do I have to change my will?
  • What is a trust and how is it used?
  • Should I have a trust? If so, what kind of a trust?
  • When is a "living" trust appropriate?
  • I saw a seminar that discussed a particular kind of trust, is that kind of trust for me?

Estate Planning to Provide for Your Family:
  • What happens if I leave everything to my spouse and my spouse does not survive me?
  • How do I set up a trust for my children and family members?
  • How may I control when my children inherit my estate? Do they have to inherit everything if they are 18, or can a portion of the estate be held until they are older?
  • I am the parent of children under the age of 18, what happens to them if I die?
  • Why would I want to allow the Court to appoint a guardian to my minor children rather than naming an alternate guardian in my will?
  • I have minor children, what considerations should I take into account in naming a guardian, and what are the advantages or disadvantages of doing so?
  • How can my partner and I provide for each other?
  • My spouse and I both have children from previous marriages. I want to ensure that my spouse is taken care of after I pass away and I also want to leave some of my estate to my children. Is there a way to draft an estate plan that allows me to do so?

Estate Administration:
  • What happens when I die?
  • What is probate and can I avoid probate?
  • Who is in charge of my estate?
  • Will my estate need a lawyer?
  • How much does it cost to settle an estate?

Charitable Bequests:
  • How do I include gifts to charities in my estate plan?

Personal Property:
  • If I want to say who inherits specific personal property, such as jewelry or furniture, should that be in the will?
  • What is the best way to direct to whom these items should go after I pass away?
  • Do I have to change my entire will if I wish to change my personal property list?

Choosing a Personal Representative:
  • What qualities should I look for in deciding who to name as my personal representative?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of naming certain persons or banks as my personal representative?

Estate Taxation:
  • Do my estate planning documents have an impact upon how my estate will be taxed?
  • How can I minimize any Federal and Minnesota Estate Taxes?

Health Care Directives:
  • I have a living will on file at my doctor's office. Do I need a health care directive too?
  • Why would I want to name a health care agent if I have a health care directive?
  • Will my health care directive be effective in another state?

Power of Attorney:
  • What is a power of attorney?
  • I have a will, why do I need a power of attorney?
  • What are the differences, if any, between a "springing power of attorney," a "durable power of attorney" and the "statutory short form" power of attorney?
  • Do I lose control of my property if I sign a power of attorney?
  • Can I revoke a power of attorney?
  • How can I use a power of attorney to plan for incapacity?

Find an Attorney:
R. Craft Dryer
Gerald A. Pommerville




FAMILY LAW

Marriage, divorce, adoption and other family law issues all require court involvement. Each of these issues require individuals to make critical personal decisions, and it is important to keep in mind these personal decisions have significant legal implications; therefore you should consult with an attorney when dealing with family law issues. Although the Minnesota Judicial Branch will provide you with many of the forms necessary to assist you in dealing with your family law issue, advice from an experienced attorney is beneficial to help assure that when you make those critical decisions you are informed of your rights and obligations under the law. Many decisions made in completing forms, such as the Marital Termination Agreement, may have a permanent impact and can never be changed; therefore we strongly recommend you consult with an attorney before filing any papers with the Court.

Among the issues you could discuss with your attorney include:

Marriage:
  • What are the legal consequences of getting married?
  • What are pre-marital agreements, antenuptial agreements, and prenuptial agreements and how do I know if I need one?
  • Does Minnesota recognize common law marriage?

Divorce and Separation:
  • What is a legal separation?
  • What is a legal divorce?
  • What is a no-fault divorce?
  • Is a dissolution of marriage the same as divorce?
  • What are the requirements for filing a petition for divorce?
  • Can I have my name changed as part of the dissolution proceedings?
  • Is counseling required before a divorce?
  • How long does it take to get a divorce?
  • May the provisions in a divorce decree be changed afterwards?
  • Can my spouse be ordered to pay my attorney fees?
  • What is a temporary order?
  • Can I get a temporary order to help me out while the divorce is pending?
  • Are there any tax consequences resulting from a marriage dissolution?
  • Can I continue my health care coverage after divorce?
  • Can my spouse be required to keep life insurance in force after the divorce?

Divorce and Property Division:
  • How is property divided in a divorce?
  • How is the value of property determined?
  • Who pays for appraisals of property?
  • Is property always divided 50/50?
  • What if I owned property before I was married?
  • Am I entitled to a portion of my spouse's retirement benefits?
  • Can I still live in the house or homestead after the divorce?
  • Who is responsible for joint and individual debt after we separate?
  • What happens if my spouse declares bankruptcy?

Divorce and Maintenance or Support:
  • What is the difference between maintenance and alimony?
  • How is the amount determined?
  • For how many years do I need to be married in order to qualify for alimony?

Custody of Children:
  • Does custody always go to just one parent?
  • What is the difference between legal and physical custody?
  • How does the Court decide whether to grant joint or sole custody?
  • When parents cannot reach an agreement on custody what standards do Courts use to decide with whom the children should live?
  • Will a Court listen to a child's preferences regarding custody?
  • Can I move out of the state or country if I have custody of the children?

Child Support:
  • How is child support determined?
  • What are the child support guidelines?
  • Does my spouse have to contribute to child care expenses?
  • Can I terminate visitation if I am not being paid the support I am owed?
  • How do I determine who my child's (paternity) father is?
  • Can I get child support if I never married my child's father?
  • When can a child support order be modified?
  • How does income withholding work?
  • Who can claim the child as a "dependent" for tax purposes?
  • Who is responsible for providing health care?

Visitation and Parenting Time:
  • What is parenting time?
  • What can I do if I am being denied the right to see my child?

Co-Habitation Issues:
  • My partner and I are not married. If we buy property what are my rights and obligations?
  • What is a co-habitation agreement? How do I know if I need one?

Adoption:
  • How do I adopt the children of my spouse?

Other Issues:
  • What is a harassment restraining order (Order for Protection)?
  • Do I need an attorney?

Find an Attorney:
Gerald A. Pommerville
Elizabeth A. Storaasli




PERSONAL INJURY

We believe that it is usually best to have an attorney help with the claim. An experienced attorney has much more bargaining leverage with an insurance company than an individual does. With an attorney representing you, the attorney can bring a lawsuit if settlement offers are too low, whereas insurance companies know that injured persons realistically rarely will bring suit on their own, or are able to do so competently. We believe that insurance companies often do not make the best offer until an attorney is involved. An experienced attorney can help with decisions and important work, such as interviewing and obtaining proper statements from witnesses; providing a helpful guide to investigation; assisting you in obtaining all of the no-fault benefits to which you may be entitled for medical expenses, lost wages, and other benefits if you are involved in an automobile accident; and providing an knowledgeable estimate of the value of your claim.

Attorneys usually accept accident cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that the attorney only gets paid when you get paid; although you would be responsible for all costs and filing fees incurred by the attorney. Because the attorney receives a portion of what you receive, the attorney has an incentive to try to get the best possible recovery for you.

Among the issues you could discuss with your attorney include:

Injuries:
  • What should I do if I have been injured in a car accident?
  • What is the most important thing for me to do after my injury?
  • What should I do if I have been injured by a defective product?
  • What should I do if I am injured in a fall on someone else's premises?

Making a Claim:
  • When is the proper time to start a lawsuit or try to settle a claim?
  • What is the statute of limitations?
  • Do I have to go to Court?
  • Should I communicate with or contact the insurance company for the person who caused my injuries?
  • Can I contact my own insurance company?
  • What kinds of medical reports or opinions, and other expert opinions should be obtained to make the claim as strong as possible?
  • What is the fair value for my claim?

Medical Bills:
  • How will my medical bills be paid?
  • Will the medical facilities wait for payment of medical bills when there is no insurance to pay for them?
  • Why won't the insurance company for the person or company who caused my injuries automatically pay my medical bills as they occur?

Find an Attorney:
Mark L. Knutson




REAL ESTATE

When buying or selling a home or land, a realtor can provide you with invaluable advice on finding the right home or the best way to market your property. Also keep in mind though that the purchase or sale of real property is a legal transaction, which most likely involves your most significant financial asset. Only an attorney can advise you of your legal rights and obligations resulting from the terms of the sale. In most real estate transactions, the attorney fees for the buyer or the seller are only a small fraction of the amount paid for the property and much less than the usual realtor's commission. Remember, the Purchase Agreement is the legal document determining your rights and obligations under the purchase, therefore you should consult an attorney before signing the agreement. Please keep in mind that forms from the Internet may have no application to Minnesota law.

Among the issues you could discuss with your attorney include:

Issues a Seller may discuss with an attorney:
  • How do I determine the value of my home or land?
  • Should the property remain on the market while the buyer may be arranging for financing or selling the other property?
  • What legal obligations does the Seller's Disclosure form impose?
  • Are there any risks to selling property on a contract for deed?

Issues a Buyer may discuss with an attorney:
  • How do I know I am getting "good title?"
  • Do I really need a title opinion or title insurance?

Purchase Agreement and Terms of Sale:
  • Should I talk to an attorney regarding a Purchase Agreement drafted by a realtor or the buyer/seller?
  • Who drafts the Purchase Agreement?
  • Who needs to sign the Purchase Agreement and other documents?
  • Should we accept any language in the Purchase Agreement, or add language, about how much time is available to make claims for any defects in the property?
  • What are my legal rights and obligations when property is sold or purchased "AS IS," and is the "AS IS" language proper?
  • Should an arbitration clause be used?

Purchase Agreement Addenda:
  • Should a contingency for sale of other property be used?
  • Should the transaction be contingent on a home inspection?
  • When is a financing contingency necessary?
  • What fees should be paid by the seller, and what fees should be paid by the buyer?
  • What problems arise if there is a well or septic system on the property?
  • What constitutes a "fixture?" What types of fixtures are typically included in the sale?

Deed and Title:
  • What is the full legal description of the land and property? What documents will provide me with an accurate legal description?
  • Does the tax statement necessarily have the full legal description?
  • What is the difference between a warranty deed, limited warranty deed and quit claim deed?
  • Does the type of deed affect my rights and obligations?
  • My siblings and I want to jointly purchase a lake cabin, how should title to the property be held?
  • What is the difference between holding title as "joint tenants with a right of survivorship" and "tenants in common?"
  • When should a parent hold a home titled in joint tenancy with children?

Other Issues:
  • Do I need a survey?
  • Do I need an attorney to help me gift my land or house?

Find an Attorney:
R. Craft Dryer
Gerald A. Pommerville


 

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