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Snow Jensen & Reece Law Blog

On the probate process, and why avoiding it is ideal

Probate sounds like an arduous process, doesn't it? Even without the context of estate planning, the word "probate" doesn't exactly sounds fun or promising. With the context of estate planning, it is made even clearer that probate is not fun or promising. Probate is the process of transferring your assets and property to other parties -- but it is done under the supervision of a court. 

Usually this happens when the individual doesn't plan his or her estate in an optimal way. Maybe they didn't utilize trusts or organize their will in a way that could avoid the probate process. So how do you avoid probate?

The special needs trust: what it provides

Last month, we wrote a post about some of the types of trusts that you can utilize to bolster your estate plan. Having a trust is a great way to improve your estate plan, protect your estate from the probate process, and to ensure that your assets are properly handled and distributed to your beneficiaries and heirs when you pass away.

Some circumstances, though, require a family to utilize a special needs trust for their child. This type of trust can help when a family has a child that is disabled or is in need of medical assistance for most of their life. The special needs trust is important for many reasons, but one stands out.

Lawsuit over Oregon's healthcare website ensnares Oracle

Many people may not be aware of this, but the state of Oregon's healthcare website was "botched" and it's launch has cost the state a lot of money. The company that was behind the website is Oracle, and the two sides have been engaged in a legal battle ever since the controversial and ultimately flawed website was launched.

While the state of Oregon claims that Oracle was fraudulent and accused them of racketeering, Oracle has fired back saying that the state's own incompetence resulted in the botched website. The state of Oregon filed a lawsuit against Oracle, claiming $6.5 billion in damages. Oracle fired back with it's own legal claims, saying that the state of Oregon actually agreed to a $25 million settlement last year that they have since reneged on.

Three common types of trusts, and what they can do for you

Trusts play a vital role in many estate plans. Trusts are utilized to protect certain assets from taxes and the probate process, while also making the execution of an estate plan a bit simpler and efficient. There are many different types of trusts, and so today we're going to talk about a few of the common trusts that people use to bolster their estate plans.

Revocable trusts are a very common type of trust. They are often called "living" trusts, because they are created while the trustmaker is alive. Revocable trusts can be changed, altered and revoked during their existence. The trustmaker can transfer assets and property to the trust, and then those assets and pieces of property would be protected from the probate process. Revocable trusts don't protect the assets from creditors, though.

What to know before engaging in a landlord-tenant dispute

Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, there will likely come a time where you don't agree with the other party. Maybe you feel like your landlord doesn't take your concerns seriously enough. Maybe you know that your tenant is disruptive and that other tenants have made complaints about him or her. No matter which side you are on, the resulting dispute could become a huge problem if you let it get to that point.

That's why the best tip we can give when it comes to landlord-tenant disputes is to avoid them in the first place. There are simple steps either side can take to make this happen. For a tenant, make sure you are respectful to your landlord and that you communicate with them clearly. Also, read your lease and know all of your rights before initiating any dispute. For a landlord, you should also be responsive to your tenants' issues and be respectful to them when you deal with them.

Estate planning terminology 101

Just hearing the term "estate plan" can make people shudder. It sounds like a difficult and painstaking process that people would rather just ignore or put off until a later date. While creating and maintaining an estate plan can be difficult at times, it doesn't have to be pain-staking. Knowing what you are dealing with and having a legal adviser by your side when things get tough is a crucial part of improving the whole process.

Ultimately, we all need estate plans. They allow us to pass on our assets, our property and our belongings to the people we love and care about. Without an estate plan, your assets may not be handled the way you want them to be handled upon your death.

Avoid the perils of the hiring process

On the surface, the hiring process may seem like such a simple step for a business or potential employee. Job hunters apply for a job; the company reviews all of the potential applicants and their resumes; they interview the candidates; and, eventually, a new employee is selected. What's so difficult about that?

In reality, though, the hiring process is actually very complicated, and any business needs to know the potential risks and legal aspects to the process. First and foremost, the actual interactions you have with potential candidates need to be compliant with the law. You can't ask certain questions in interviews, such as questions about religion, nation of origin or marriage.

How a will can be central to an estate dispute

One of the most important documents contained within your estate plan is the will. Your will dictates how your affairs, assets and property are dealt with in the wake of your passing. Without a will, you die "intestate," and your estate is then subject to all of the state laws that apply under the intestate status.

But a will is a very tricky document to truly feel is "finalized." Your feelings and opinions will shift over the years, and the lives of your heirs and beneficiaries will change too. After you write a will, life events may require you to return to the will and make revisions. This is perfectly fine -- but you need to follow the necessary steps to ensure those changes are applied correctly.

If you are dealing with a real estate dispute, get legal help

When you hear the phrase "real estate dispute," you probably think about an individual person who has rented an apartment and who is actively disputing something about the terms of the lease with the landlord of the property. To be fair, this is a common dispute relating to real estate. However, there are also circumstances where a real estate dispute relates to a company renting a space and the property owner or manager of that space.

In other words, landlord-tenants disputes don't always relate to a situation between one person who is a tenant and one person who is a landlord. These disputes can relate to numerous parties made up of many people. And, obviously, the more people involved (and the more complex the arrangement), the greater the chance of the dispute becoming convoluted and difficult to solve.

How non-competition agreements can help businesses

When you are in charge of a business, or a portion of a business, then you obviously have an incentive to optimize your company. In order to do this, you have to utilize all of the tools at your disposal to get the most out of your employees and to allow your business to grow and thrive as you intend it to.

One of the tools at your disposal is the nondisclosure agreement, which is also called a non-competition agreement. Many companies require employees to sign these agreements upon their hire. So what protections do they provide and why does it behoove a company to utilize NDAs?