Thank You Everyone!

      I am retiring the practice after 30 years.  To that end, I am not accepting any new matters. I will keep this blog active until next spring because there is valuable content for folks to review relative to family legal matters. Thank you to all of my clients for allowing me to help you […]

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Legal Descriptions for Real Property in Minnesota Divorces- Get it Right

The legal description of a section of real property is a specific means of identifying with great particularity that section of real property as opposed to all other real property. Legal descriptions are comprised of letters, words, and numbers that ultimately allow a surveyor to physically set out the boundaries of the property. The legal description describes to the real property […]

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Follow-Up to Minnesota Divorce Transfers to Real Property-The Summary Real Estate Disposition Judgment

Last week we discussed the importance of using the complete and exact legal description for any real property transferred in a Minnesota divorce proceeding.   In summary, the Minnesota divorce decree, the quit claim deed and the Summary Real Estate Disposition Judgment must contain the complete and exact legal description for each piece of real property […]

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Legal Descriptions for Real Property in Minnesota Divorces- Get it Right

Home with ChimmeyThe legal description of a section of real property is a specific means of identifying with great particularity that section of real property as opposed to all other real property.

Legal descriptions are comprised of letters, words, and numbers that ultimately allow a surveyor to physically set out the boundaries of the property.

The legal description describes to the real property world with great precision what is yours.

The legal description of a section of real property must be exact language  that matches the recorded legal description for that section of real property; no capital letter can be changed or a comma left out or a number (4) written as “four.”  Exact language means a perfect duplication of every letter, number, period and comma contained in the complete and exact legal on file with the County Recorder for the County where the property is located.

Complete and exact legal descriptions are necessary in any transfer of real property no matter what sort of transfer. An incomplete or  inexact legal description will not result in a good clean transfer of title.

Re-Typing the Legal Description

Re-typing the legal description is never recommended.  It is too easy to make a mistake in re-typing a legal description.  The best practice is to the copy the legal description obtained from the County Recorder’s office and attach the legal as an exhibit to any court pleading or other document and reference the exhibit by incorporation; e.g.   Legal description is attached hereto and marked Exhibit A.

Why You Should Not Use the Property Tax Statement Description for Real Property

The property tax statement has an abbreviated version of the legal description of the property and should not be relied upon as the complete and exact legal description for any real property. if you have used the abbreviated form of a legal description in any of your legal documents, then you must redo these documents with the complete and exact legal description.

Minnesota Divorce Documents That Require the Complete and Exact Legal Description of Real Property

There are three documents that you have to consider in any Minnesota divorce where real property is changing title.  The Minnesota divorce decree; and, the quit claim deed to one party signed by the other party; and, the summary real estate disposition must all contain the complete and exact legal description.    All three documents must have the complete and exact legal description of each property awarded in the divorce. All three documents must have the same complete and exact legal.

If the complete and exact legal description is not used, then somewhere down the road when that property is sold or otherwise transferred you will have a problem and will have to go back and try to correct the problem.  You may not be able to find the person who should sign the quit claim deed or sign an agreement amending the decree to correct the legal.  Title will not pass a title examination unless the legal descriptions are all complete and exact in every divorce in all of the necessary documents.

The best practice in any Minnesota divorce involving real property is to get the complete and exact legal description for each section of real property from the County Recorder where the property is located. Make certain that  all three documents–  the Minnesota divorce decree, the quit claim deed, and the summary real estate disposition –contain the complete and exact legal descriptions for any real property in the divorce.   Do it right and do it once.

If you like this post, I would love it if you would hit the “subscribe” button so that I may continue to share a variety of family law topics with you.  Please do share this post via the share buttons at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Divorce, Father’s Rights, Family Lawyer, Family Court Lawyer and Mediator

Call me at (320) 217-6030  or e-mail me.

Copyright 2015

Minnesota Divorce and Pre-Divorce Check-List

Blue Question Mark ManFinancials

1. Obtain a copy of your credit report.  If your spouse has any secured obligations or opened any joint credit accounts, then the report should have this information.

2. Cancel any joint credit cards if you are able or remove your spouse’s name as a person who may charge on the card.

3. Obtain the most recent quarterly statements of all of your financial accounts.

4. Obtain the most recent balance statement for any secured property; e.g., mortgage, equity lines of credit, car loans, boat loans or other big-ticket items.

5. Obtain the balances on statements for any student loans or other debts.

6. Obtain copies of at least 5 years tax returns including wage statements, 1099’s, and all schedules, both personal and business tax returns, if applicable.

7. Open up a checking and savings account in your own name at a bank where you and your spouse do not bank. Deposit your pay-checks into your new account.

8. Keep copies of your last three pay-stubs for your attorney.

Personal and Real Property

1. Obtain titles and insurance information for all vehicles or other recreational equipment

2. Obtain a legal description from the County of Record for all real property, including, but not limited to timeshares.

3. If you believe that personal household items or valuable collections like guns or art work will be disputed, then take photos and itemize the location with the date and the photograph of the item; record serial numbers if any.

4. Obtain a copy of any homeowners insurance riders if collectables are insured.

Budget

1. Create a budget for yourself and the children.

2. Keep all of your receipts and categorize your receipts for evidence in the event your expenses are disputed.

Organize all of your materials so that your attorney need not spend her/his time sorting through documents at a cost to you.

Interview

Meet with a few attorneys until you find one that you like and are comfortable with and who has the credentials to do the job.

If you like this post, I would love it if you would hit the “subscribe” button so that I may continue to share a variety of family law topics with you.  Please do share this post via the share buttons at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Divorce, Father’s Rights, Mother’s Rights, Family Lawyer, Family Court Lawyer and Mediation Coach

Call me at (320) 492-3606 or e-mail me via   www.katewillmorelaw.com

Copyright 2016

 

Check List for Dos and Don’ts for Minnesota Divorcing Parties With Custody Issues-It’s All About the Children

This is a repost of what I think are good tips for working with the other parent during a Minnesota divorce or a Minnesota custody matter. Actually, these are good tips for all parents that may live apart. 

THE LIST OF DOS

1. Do be civil and polite to your spouse especially in front of the children

2. Do be generous in allowing the other parent lots of time with the children.   It’s about the children so let them spend time and extra time with the other parent.

3.   Do communicate with the other parent about the children and keep him/her involved in all matters related to the children; e-mail or join a secure family communication website like OurFamilyWizard.com to exchange information.   Keep the other parent informed about medical appointments, school events and activities, and any thing else related to the children.   Co-parent as partners in raising the children without living together.

4. Do speak in positive ways about the other parent.  Remember that the children are half of you and half of him/her. When you criticize the other parent you are criticizing that half of your child.

6. Do consider both extended families and let the children have time with both Grandparents and other relatives. Children cannot have too many people who love them.

7. Do be flexible in co-parenting and allow the extras like special family events or outings. It all benefits the children.

8. Do seek out a counselor to help you with life changes if your emotions about the marriage get in the way of your co-parenting.

THE LIST OF DON’TS

1. Don’t engage in verbal sparring, arguments or disputes in the presence of the children.  Take any disputes to a mediator if you cannot resolve the issue. Remember children are listening to you communicate with the other parent even when you are on the phone.  Children also are very good at picking up non-verbal cues.

2. Don’t engage in a battle over minor issues; try to look at the long term bigger picture. You will be parenting together until the youngest is 18.  You both will likely be in attendance at college graduations, marriages, baptisms, grandchildren’s birthdays and special events.  In sum, you will be seeing one another over the years.  You may be divorced, but you are still a family.

3. Don’t engage the children in any custody, parenting time, visitation, financial support, or other adult agenda. Don’t  discuss any aspect of the case with the children.

4. Don’t make the children decide between you or the other parent; e.g., do you want to go shopping with me or go with your dad/mom?

5. Don’t speak negatively about the other parent or the other parent’s extended family.

6. Don’t ask the children questions about the other parent’s life.   The children shouldn’t be little eyes and ears reporting on the other parent’s actions or behaviors.  Let the children be children enjoying time with a parent.

7. Don’t be a micro-manager when it comes to a parenting time schedule.  Your graciousness in allowing extra time will come back to you.

8. Don’t let your anger or emotion about the marriage negatively impact your co-parenting.  See a counselor to help you sort through the life change and keep co-parenting positive.

If you like this post, I would love it if you would hit the “subscribe” button so that I may continue to share a variety of family law topics with you.  Please do share this post via the share buttons at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading.

Kate Willmore

Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Divorce, Family Lawyer, Father’s Rights, Family Court Lawyer and Mediator Coach

(320) 492-3606      www.katewillmorelaw.com

Copyright 2014

 

Estate Planning in Minnesota and Your Digital Inventory-Make it Easy for Your Heirs

Kate Willmore Law Blog

I originally posted this blog in August 2013.  Readers appreciated the information and asked for a re-blog.  The post relates to how you can plan to terminate your digital life after  you go to the great beyond.   I confess that I never much thought about my digital afterlife until I researched and wrote this article.  I think the tips are worth a review.

Last WillEstate plans result in hard copy documents that reflect your last wishes in how you want your tangible property to be divided among your heirs. We all have a digital life these days from bank accounts to social media accounts. Making a digital inventory for your heirs and keeping a current corresponding list of your user IDs and passwords with your estate documents is helpful for anyone sorting out your estate.

You might begin with a list of all the digital sites and entities with whom you have…

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Minnesota Divorce and Changing Your Name

Blue Question Mark Man     Many parties incorporate a name change within a Minnesota divorce.   Once the divorce is final, then you must follow-through and give notice of your name change.  Do it as soon as the divorce is final because it is easy to forget.  Print this blog out as a checklist for changing your name following a Minnesota divorce.

Security Administration– SSA has a form that must be completed and presented to the local office along with a certified copy of the divorce decree.

MN Driver’s License-You must obtain a new license and present evidence of a legal name change; i.e., a certified copy of the Minnesota Divorce Decree or a certified copy of the Certificate of Dissolution, which is a short-hand summary of the divorce signed by the Court and Court Administrator verifying certain facts. If you have a Minnesota State ID, then you must follow the same procedure.

Utilities, Insurance, Post Office, Credit Card, and Other Service Entities– Notify all of the foregoing in writing of the name change.

Employers, Retirement, Pensions– Notify your employer, and all of the plan administrators for any retirement or pension funds; most entities use their own special forms for these sorts of changes.

Memberships, Friends, Relatives- Notify your clubs, memberships and accounts ( Netflix, Amazon etc.)  and all of your relatives and friends.

E-Mail Accounts– change your email address if you used part of your married name in your e-mail address.

All Financial Accounts– I recommend to my clients that they open up accounts in their own names and close out all joint accounts rather than trust the bank to make the change. I have had clients have their banks continue to allow access to the former spouse because of some failure on the bank’s part. Begin fresh and open up new accounts in your name.

Titles and Registrations– change titles to all property -real and personal property that require a title or registration;  transferring title to real property involves special documents and your attorney should have followed through with any real property title changes or conveyances.

Passport– do not forget Uncle Sam.  Follow all procedures for changing your name and obtaining a new passport.  Federal procedures for passport changes may be found on the Fed’s website.

Beneficiariess – as a side note – do not forget to change your beneficiaries on all life insurance, retirement accounts, or any other account in which you named your former spouse as a beneficiary.  Speak with your financial advisor or your human resources person.  Most entities have particular forms for changing a beneficiary.

If you like this post, I would love it if you would hit the “subscribe” button so that I may continue to share a variety of family law topics with you.  Please do share this post via the share buttons at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Divorce, Father’s Rights, Mother’s Rights, Family Lawyer, Family Court Lawyer and Mediation Coach

Call me at (320) 492-3606 or e-mail me via   www.katewillmorelaw.com

Copyright 2016

 

 

 

 

Can I Change My Will During a Minnesota Divorce?

Green Scales of JusticeThis is a repost from a popular topic- Can you change your will and estate plan during a Minnesota divorce so your soon-to-be ex doesn’t inherit?

Most divorcing parties do not want their soon-to-be ex-spouse inheriting.  You should consider some measure of estate planning issues early on in a divorce proceeding.  Minnesota Uniform Probate Code states that upon a divorce a person is no longer a “surviving spouse” and, therefore, the surviving spouse language in a Will is moot. The Code, however, requires that the marriage “has been dissolved or annulled.” 

Minnesota law automatically revokes certain documents when a divorce is started.  A financial power of attorney and a healthcare directive naming a spouse is revoked. ( Minn. Stat. Section 523.08. ) Beneficiary designations in Wills or Trusts, however, in favor of a spouse are not revoked until the divorce is final.   The right to dispose of your remains may become the subject of an action by your surviving heirs to keep a spouse from making this decision.  You may, however, plan your estate to definitively exclude your spouse and name other trusted persons in your documents.

Changing Estate Planning Documents

The Summons in a divorce proceeding has restraining provisions; The standard language restrains both parties to the divorce from changing life insurance beneficiaries. Neither party may make certain transfers of assets from the marital estate.

What the Summons doesn’t restrain is  your right to:

  • Make a new Will naming an heir and a personal administrator other than your soon-to-be ex-spouse;
  • Terminate a financial power of attorney to the  spouse and name another person to mange your financial affairs if you are incapacitated;
  • Change a healthcare directive to remove the spouse as  your healthcare agent and name another person to make healthcare decisions for you if you are incapacitated;
  •  Sever a joint tenancy to real property and create a new title to allow you to name an heir other than your spouse and,
  • Create a document under Minnesota Statute naming who you want to dispose of your remains in the event of your death ( Minn. Stat. Section 149A.80).

The foregoing estate planning documents serve to protect your interests.   If you have no estate documents, then you may create these documents during the divorce proceeding .

If you like this post, I would love it if you would hit the “subscribe” button so that I may continue to share a variety of family law topics with you.  Please do share this post via the share buttons at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Divorce, Father’s Rights, Mother’s Rights, Family Lawyer, Family Court Lawyer and Mediation Coach

Call me at (320) 492-3606 or e-mail me via   www.katewillmorelaw.com

Copyright 2016

Can I Bring a Contempt Action Against my Ex in a Minnesota Divorce? 

Minnesota divorces set out the terms  and conditions for division of assets and liabilities; the parties’ custody, parenting time and child support; who pays spousal maintenance also called alimony, if any,  among other agreements all of which require some level Blue Question Mark Manof performance by both parties or one party.  The terms and conditions of the parties’ divorce are Court Orders within one document called the divorce decree.

So, if one party doesn’t perform under the Court Order, then why can’t that party be held in contempt of Court?

Civil Contempt in a Minnesota Family Law Case

Family law matters are civil matters. Contempt motions in Minnesota,  however. are only allowable in family law matters, including divorces, for failure to pay child support or failure to pay alimony.  Contempt motions cannot be brought for failure to pay a debt or for failure to refinance a homestead or for  failure to  transfer an asset or for any other required performance or any other non-performance by the offending party.   So are you left without a remedy if one party doesn’t do what he or she is supposed to do?

Non-performance issues should be addressed by language in the Minnesota divorce decree that protects one party from the other party’s failure to perform under the terms of the decree.  For example, insert language in the decree that orders attorney’s fees as a sanction for non-performance under a provision;  one party can secure a marital lien on real property with a requirement to sell the real property if a cash settlement is not paid; one party could require the non-performing party to post a bond to secure payments-the bond would be forfeit if no payment is made.  The foregoing are just a few examples.

A party can include any remedy allowed by law that protects that party’s  future interests in a Minnesota divorce decree.

Many non-performance issues, however,  can be and should be addressed pre-divorce while the case is pending.  For example, you can require that personal property is sold to pay debt off to protect your credit instead of trusting that your ex will pay the debt assigned.

In other words, a  Minnesota divorce decree should be drafted proactively to protect a party from the failure of the other party to perform.  You cannot rely on a contempt proceeding for a remedy unless it is for failure to pay child support or failure to pay spousal maintenance.   See the companion blog post “How Do I Protect My Credit in a Minnesota Divorce” posted here on January 22, 2016.

If you like this post, I would love it if you would hit the “subscribe” button so that I may continue to share a variety of family law topics with you.  Please do share this post via the share buttons at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Divorce, Father’s Rights, Mother’s Rights, Family Lawyer, Family Court Lawyer and Mediation Coach

Call me at (320) 492-3606 or e-mail me via   www.katewillmorelaw.com

Copyright 2016

Minnesotans– Stay Current on Your Child Support or Lose the Dependency Exemption

A divorced taxpayer attempted to claim his child as a dependent exemption on his federal tax return. The taxpayer was not current in his child support obligations when he filed. The former spouse agreed that taxpayer was entitled to claim the minor child as a dependent, but only if the Dollar Signtaxpayer was current in his support obligations.   The tax court cited to the parties’ separate divorce agreement and held that the agreement conditioned taxpayer’s right to claim the dependency on his being current in his support.  Taxpayer was not entitled to claim the exemption when he had fallen behind and was not current in his support obligation when he filed his taxes.  26 U. S. C. 152(e).  Milhalick-Jarosak  TCS 2010-122 ( U.S. Tax Ct. 8/24/10)

Most Marital Termination Agreements contain a provision that allows the parties to alternate claiming the minor children as tax dependency exemptions.  The parent who is paying support has a right to claim the dependency  usually conditioned upon and subject to that parent being current in his or her child support by December 31st of any year in which he or she is entitled to claim the exemption.  If you have such a provision, then make sure that all of your support obligations are current if it is your year to claim a minor child as a dependent tax exemption.   Keep in mind that also means shared healthcare expenses and any other expenses that you have agreed to pay and not just the child support.

If you like this post, I would love it if you would hit the “subscribe” button so that I may continue to share a variety of family law topics with you.  Please do share this post via the share buttons at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Divorce, Father’s Rights, Mother’s Rights, Family Lawyer, Family Court Lawyer and Mediation Coach

Call me at (320) 492-3606 or e-mail me via   www.katewillmorelaw.com

Copyright 2016

A Minnesota Divorce Flow Chart Will Help You Visualize How a Case Moves Along.

A Minnesota divorce case, like other Minnesota family law cases, moves through the system in a manner that is sometimes confusing to pro se litigants or even to parties who have attorneys.   Visualizing the process is helpful.

Think of a divorce or other family law case like a train moving from station to station.  There are different tracks that the train may roll along all ending up at the same place.   A legal case is like that train.  There is a settlement, mediation, or litigation track.  The case always ends up before the Court either in settlement, where the parties may or may not have to appear, or in a contested trial.

This flow chart may help you in understanding the settlement, mediation, and litigation tracks to a Minnesota divorce or other Minnesota family law manner.  I created this flow chart for my clients to help them visualize the process.

JUST FLOW CHART 1-29-2016 See   Flow Chart for Minnesota Divorce Proceeding   Download PDF

If you like this post, I would love it if you would hit the “subscribe” button so that I may continue to share a variety of family law topics with you.  Please do share this post via the share buttons at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Divorce, Father’s Rights, Mother’s Rights, Family Lawyer, Family Court Lawyer and Mediation Coach

Call me at (320) 492-3606 or e-mail me via   www.katewillmorelaw.com

Copyright 2016

How to Change Title to the Car After a Minnesota Divorce

How Do I Change Title to a Car After a Minnesota Divorce? I am often asked the foregoing question. This post will help you change title to a car after a divorce in Minnesota. Worth a another read.

Kate Willmore Law Blog

How do you change the title to the car that is awarded to you in your divorce?  It’s actually pretty simple.  If the title is in your name alone, then do nothing.  If the car is titled in the other party’s name or in both names, then you must transfer the title to your name alone.

Car with key Transferring the title from the other party to you: In the “Buyer” transfer section of the car title you write your name. The other party signs in “Seller” transfer section of the car title.  Take the title to the DMV to transfer title.

If the car is titled in your name and the other party’s name, then you sign in the “Buyer” transfer section of the car title; and, both you and the other party sign in the “Seller” transfer section of the car title.  Take the title to the DMV to transfer title.

If you’ve lost the car title…

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