Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Enforcing Your Company's Business Contracts

As a small business owner, you will likely form multiple contracts. Employee agreements, purchase orders from vendors, services you provide to your customers, and lease agreements are just a few examples of the types of contracts you are likely to encounter.



Contracts are designed to protect all parties involved in the agreement, ensuring that everyone receives the value promised to them. In most cases, all parties uphold their ends of the bargain and things progress without incident. However, in some cases, one party may fail to perform as agreed. In these instances, you may be required to take steps to enforce the contract in order to protect your interests. Our Lake of the Ozarks business attorney is here to examine what makes a contract enforceable and what steps you can take to begin the process.

What Is A Contract?

Essentially, a contract is formed when you agree to exchange things of comparable value with another party. For example, you agree to give customers your products in exchange for money. If you hire an employee, you agree to give that individual a paycheck (and possibly some benefits) in exchange for her time, labor, and good performance. 

Contracts can be written or oral. While not every contract is required to be in writing, a writing may be preferable because enforcing oral agreements can be extremely challenging.

Enforcing A Contract

When both parties fulfill their contractual obligations, everyone benefits. When one party fails to uphold their end of the bargain, the other party may have to take steps to enforce the agreement.

In order to be legally enforceable, contracts must meet certain specifications. Here are a few examples.
  • Capacity. All parties entering the contract must have the capacity to do so. Contracts entered into by minors and individuals declared to be legally incompetent are not legally enforceable.
  • Public Policy. The terms outlined in the contract must not violate state and federal law. Contracts outlining illegal activity are not enforceable.
  • Duress. All parties entering the contract must do so of their own accord. If one party entered the contract under duress or coercion, the contract may not be enforceable.
  • Unconscionability. Contracts are designed to exchange things of comparable value. If the contract heavily favors one party, the court may strike it down as unconscionable.
  • Misrepresentation. All parties entering the contract must be aware of all the significant facts and circumstances surrounding the agreement. If it is later revealed that one party withheld or misrepresented important information that may have influenced the other party's decision to enter the agreement, the contract may not be enforceable.

O'Donnell Law Center Can Help With Your Business Contracts

In order to protect your small business, it is important that contracts you enter into are legally sound and enforceable. We help small business owners draft and evaluate their contracts.

For more information about our business law services at the Lake of the Ozarks, give us a call at 573-552-0317 or check us out online: www.ODonnellLawCenter.com

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.


The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Loved One Passed Away Without A Will... Now What?

One purpose of an estate plan is to organize your affairs so that when you pass, your assets can be smoothly and easily transferred to your surviving heirs. When designed correctly, estate plans can be used to reduce taxation, avoid probate, arrange for your minor children to inherit your assets when they come of age, and serve a variety of other purposes. Unfortunately, some people do not get a chance to organize their estates before they pass away.


Experts estimate that approximately half of Americans don't have estate plans (or even simple wills) in place. No one wants to think about death, and many people put off the act of planning their estates because they assume that they have many more years before such documentation would become necessary. While the hope is for everyone to live long lives, sometimes it doesn't work out that way.

Passing Away "Intestate"

If your loved one has recently passed away without a will in place, organizing her affairs will likely be a long and complex process. O'Donnell Law Center may be able to help.

"Intestate" is the legal term used to refer to individuals who have died without a will in place. If this has happened to someone in your family, the intestate laws of the state she lives in will dictate to whom her assets will be passed. This will primarily depend on whether or not she was married and whether or not she had any children. 

Going Through Probate 

Missouri's probate laws are complex, and the probate process can take anywhere from several months to several years. Having an experienced Lake of the Ozarks probate attorney to guide you through the process can make a big difference.

If your loved one did not have a will nominating an executor, the court will appoint someone to fill this role. Surviving spouses commonly take on this responsibility, but if your loved one was single or if her spouse is unwilling/unable to fill the role, the court will appoint someone else. The executor (also called the Personal Representative) will have the following primary responsibilities:
  • Organize the decedent's assets
  • Estimate the value of the decedent's assets
  • Address the decedent's final bills, taxes and debts
  • Distribute the remaining assets to the heirs and/or beneficiaries
Family Issues That May Develop

A difficult aspect of dying intestate is the potential it creates for family disagreements. If your loved one did not have a will designating the distribution of assets, you may find yourself at odds with the other family members over who should inherit what or the value of certain assets. 

There is rarely an easy solution to these types of challenges. However, having a competent Camden County probate attorney to help can be a valuable resource during this difficult time.

O'Donnell Law Center May Be Able to Help

If you are in need of a probate attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks, we hope you'll consider scheduling a consultation with Deirdre O'Donnell at O'Donnell Law Center. Our team has experience working with:
  • Trust administration
  • Probating wills
  • Probating estates when there is no will
  • Guardianships
  • Conservatorships

For more information about how we may be able to assist you, visit us at www.ODonnellLawCenter.com or call 573-552-0317 to book your private consultation.


We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.


The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

5 Reasons You NEED A Criminal Defense Attorney

Facing criminal charges is arguably one of the most stressful events you may ever experience. Whether or not you actually committed the crime in question, a criminal accusation means that your life must be largely put on hold until the investigation and trial are resolved. Throughout the process, nothing will matter as much as ensuring that your rights (and your future) are protected. Here are a few reasons why it is important that you secure the representation of an experienced Lake of the Ozarks criminal defense attorney.


An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can...

1. Handle Your Case Effectively.
The fact that a well-versed criminal defense attorney will know and understand the law better than you should go without saying. The legal field is often convoluted and complex; no layperson will understand the criminal justice system as thoroughly as an experienced attorney. Your attorney's knowledge and expertise will be a huge asset to you as you progress through the trial process.

2. Objective, Balanced Representation In Court.
If you are facing criminal charges, it will be natural for you to have strong emotions relating to your situation. Depending on how things progress in court, you may be tempted to stand up and vehemently support your position. However, speaking out of line or in an overly emotional fashion may do more harm than good. Hiring an attorney gives you someone to vent your side of the story to who can then provide the objective, balanced representation you need in court.

3. Examine The Evidence.
Though the prosecution is expected to only present objective evidence that has been lawfully obtained, this is unfortunately not always the case. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to help you critically evaluate the evidence presented against you, looking for exaggerated testimonies, inconsistent or inaccurate details, and unconstitutionally obtained evidence.

4. Negotiate A Lighter Sentence.
In some cases, obtaining an acquittal may not be realistic. Even in these situations, however, a criminal defense attorney can be a valuable resource. Your attorney may be able to negotiate plea bargains or other deals, thus enabling you to get a conviction for a lower classification of crime and accompanying punishment. Without an attorney, you may have no choice but to face the punishment initially requested by the prosecutor.

5. Protect Your Future.
Criminal defense isn't just about protecting your rights and your interests in the moment - it's about protecting your future. A criminal conviction that becomes a part of your permanent criminal record can make it much more challenging for you to obtain a mortgage loan, quality rental housing and employment, or obtain certain professional licenses. In defending your constitutional rights throughout the trial process, your attorney may also be helping to protect your future opportunities.

Contact O'Donnell Law Center For Criminal Representation

Criminal defense is a core area of our practice at our Lake of the Ozarks law firm. If you are (or believe that you may soon be) facing criminal charges, we encourage you to schedule an initial consultation with our criminal defense attorney in Osage Beach MO. Having successfully tried hundreds of criminal cases, attorney Deirdre O'Donnell has a proven track record you can rely on. For more information about our criminal defense services, call (573) 552-0317 to schedule your initial consultation.


We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.


The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Friday, May 12, 2017

7 Safety Reminders For Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend is generally considered the official start to the summer season at the Lake of the Ozarks. Our quiet, local community will be inundated with tourists as traffic picks up and the number of boats out on the water increases. This is an exciting time of year for both locals and tourists, but it can also pose several risks. This week, our general practice law firm in Osage Beach MO is here to help protect you and your family with these no-nonsense safety reminders for the holiday weekend.


1. Allow Plenty Of Travel Time.
Because of the thousands of people on the road during Memorial Day Weekend, roadway travel becomes much more dangerous. If you are planning to travel during the weekend, it's important to give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination. If you aren't in a rush, you will be less likely to put yourself (and other drivers) at risk by speeding, pushing red lights, or committing other driving infractions.

2. Ensure That All Children Wear Life Jackets.
Kids ages 12 and under are required to wear life jackets when boating on the Lake of the Ozarks. Even wen children exceed this age limit, however, it may be wise to instruct them to wear a life jacket if they are not  strong swimmers. 

3. Limited Extended Time In The Sun.
Wear sunscreen and limit your time in direct sunlight during the hottest times of the day. Drink plenty of water and/or electrolyte drinks to prevent yourself from becoming dehydrated. If you feel dizzy, faint, or weak, get inside and cool off immediately.

4. Designate A Sober Adult.
Whether you plan to travel to your Memorial Day hot spots by boat or by car, it is critical that you designate a sober driver. In addition to being extremely dangerous, operating a car or a boat while over the legal limit for alcohol is a criminal offense. If you are convicted, it may leave a permanent mark on your criminal record.

5. Drink Responsibly.
Even if you are not the designated sober adult, it is wise to reasonably limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol poisoning is very real, and it poses serious short-term and long-term health risks. Keep in mind that alcohol also dehydrates the body - the effects of which can be heightened due to prolonged sun exposure. Be sure to offset alcoholic beverages by drinking plenty of water as well.

6. Beware Of Fire Hazards.
If you plan to grill this Memorial Day Weekend, be sure to keep your grill a safe distance away from the garage, carport, or other structure. It is also wise to avoid proximity to any flammable surface or item. To reduce your risk of fire hazard during use, it may also be smart to have your grill carefully inspected before firing it up for the first time.

7. Supervise Children At All Times.
From swimming to shooting fireworks, many of the favorite Memorial Day activities pose an element of risk. No matter how you choose to celebrate your weekend, make sure a responsible adult is supervising the children at all times. 

Stay Safe, Everyone!
However you decide to celebrate your holiday weekend, O'Donnell Law Center hopes you have a safe and enjoyable time. Should you find yourself at fault for an accident, injured at the hands of someone else's negligent, or otherwise in need of legal representation, we hope you'll consider scheduling a consultation with our general practice firm at the Lake of the Ozarks to discuss what we can do to help ensure your rights are protected.

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.


The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Friday, April 28, 2017

Estate Planning Prep: 3 Factors To Consider

If you've kept up with our blog, you know that we spend a great deal of time talking about the importance of organizing your affairs so that all will transition smoothly to your heirs after you pass. Without a proper estate plan in order, your assets may be tied up in probate for months - or potentially even years - before they can be distributed to your heirs.


At O'Donnell Law Center, a significant portion of our practice is dedicated to helping our clients with their estate planning needs. If you are preparing to begin the estate planning process, our Lake of the Ozarks estate planning attorney is here to help. Here are a few factors we advise you to consider before preparing your estate plan.

1. Who Shall Receive Guardianship Of Your Children?

If you have children, this is the most important - and possibly the most challenging - decision you will have to make during the estate planning process. It is essential that you nominate someone to care of your children in the event that something unexpected should happen to you.

While there may be someone in your life who could be an obvious choice, you may also find that the decision can be far from easy. We have written an entire blog post on nominating a guardian for your children (you can view it here). For the purposes of this blog, however, we shall simply encourage you to think through the decision carefully so that you can select the individual you believe will be best able to care for your children's needs.

2. How Complicated Will Your Estate Plan Be?

The more assets you possess and the greater their financial value, the more complex your estate plan may be. Your estate planning needs may be further complicated if you have been married multiple times, own a business, or have children from other relationships.

If your assets and affairs are relatively straightforward, a simple will, coupled with non-probate transfers, may be all you need. If your assets have significant value or if your familial needs are complicated, however, you may need to work with an attorney to build an estate plan that will best serve your specific situation.

3. Whom Do You Wish To Inherit Your Assets?

This is an obvious component of the estate planning process, but one that deserves careful consideration. You may choose anyone you wish to inherit your assets - children, grandchildren, siblings, friends, parents, charity etc. You may choose one person to inherit your home, another person to inherit your business, another person to inherit your investment accounts, and so on. Many people choose to divide their assets so that they are distributed equally to their surviving heirs. Depending on the age of their children, some people choose to establish revocable living trusts that allow them to dictate at what age their children have access to the assets.

Ultimately, it is entirely up to you how you wish to pass your assets to your surviving family and friends. We encourage you to begin this decision-making process prior to working with an attorney to build an estate plan, however; finalizing these decisions ahead of time will greatly streamline the planning process.

Contact O'Donnell Law Center To Build Your Estate Plan

We encourage you to work with an attorney to build an estate plan that will best meet your needs. Even if you anticipate your estate plan to be simple, it may still be wise to consult with an attorney. Although do-it-yourself programs are available online, these basic programs cannot possibly account for the unique nuances of your specific needs.  Working with an attorney will be the best way to ensure that your estate plan meets your needs and wishes.

If you are looking for a Lake of the Ozarks estate planning attorney, we hope you will consider scheduling a consultation with Deirdre O'Donnell of O'Donnell Law Center. Since estate planning is a prominent focus within our practice, we have a great deal of experience with a variety of estate planning structures. We would be honored to put our knowledge and expertise to work for you.

For more information about how we may be able to assist you, visit us at www.ODonnellLawCenter.com or call 573-552-0317 to book your private consultation.


We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.


The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Thursday, April 20, 2017

When To Consider Updating Your Estate Plan

Life is a long, winding journey. There are several stops you must make along the way and several tasks that will require attention at some point. Some things cannot be addressed only once - they must be readdressed periodically to ensure that they are still relevant and up-to-date. Estate planning is one such task.


An effective estate plan is designed to meet your specific needs by reflecting your current position in life. Since your position will likely change at least once (and potentially several times) as you age, it is important to consider updating your estate plan to reflect your current position and needs. O'Donnell Law Center is here to help you keep your estate plan up-to-date by discussing a few situations when it may be wise to update your estate plan.

Getting Married Or Divorced

Marriage and/or divorce are major milestones in one's life. Whether you are creating a marital union or dissolving one, your life will be drastically different once the process is complete. Spouses often have automatic rights to inherit each other's assets if the other passes and, unless otherwise specified, are typically given the right to make decisions on the other's behalf should the other become incapacitated. When you get married or divorced, it is wise to consult with a Lake of the Ozarks estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan reflects your current needs as a newly wedded or recently single individual.

Having Children

If you did not have children at the time that you initially built your estate plan, we strongly encourage you to consider updating your plan once you have had children. A key component of estate planning is to ensure that your children will be provided for no matter what happens to you. If they are under the age of 18, your estate plan should nominate someone to care for your children in your place in the event that something happens to you. Once your children are legal adults, your estate plan can protect them by dictating which of your assets they should inherit and at what age they should gain access to those assets.

Starting A Business

As a new business owner, you will have a myriad of details demanding your attention. Entrepreneurs must not only be well-versed in their chosen industry; they must also have at least a basic understanding of what it takes to operate a business. As the owner, one of your responsibilities will be to determine what should happen to your business in the event that you are no longer able to take care of it. Whether that means passing it to an heir, selling it, or dissolving it, your estate plan should provide at least a basic explanation of how you would like your company's affairs to be handled after you pass.

Experiencing A Change In Financial Situation

A well-prepared estate plan should be designed to meet your specific situation. In order to meet your exact needs and avoid excessive taxation, a skilled estate planning attorney will use different tools and strategies depending on your financial situation. If you experience a change in your financial position, you'll want to talk to your attorney to see if your estate plan needs to be constructed differently based on your new financial needs. Examples of changes in your financial situation may include (but is not limited to):
  • Accepting a job with a significantly higher salary
  • Inheriting a significant sum of money
  • Purchasing or inheriting property or items of value

Contact O'Donnell Law Center For Help Updating Your Estate Plan

If you think you may be in a position to update your estate plan, call O'Donnell Law Center at 573-552-0317. Our experienced Missouri estate planning attorney has helped hundreds of clients design customized estate plans to match each individual client's needs. We would be happy to help you build or update your estate plan so that it accurately reflects your specific situation.


We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.


The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Friday, April 14, 2017

Estate Planning Made Easy: 3 Simple Steps

Because it requires you to think critically about end-of-life decisions, estate planning often seems like a daunting prospect. None of us want to think about our eventual deaths. Unfortunately, none of us will live forever - it is important that we organize our affairs and build estate plans to ensure that our wishes will be met once we are no longer present.


At our Lake of the Ozarks law firm, we dedicate a significant portion of our practice to estate planning. In order to easily guide our clients through their end-of-life decisions, we have condensed the process into three simple but comprehensive steps. Here is a quick overview of how we handle estate planning at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Step 1:  Initial Meeting

The first step is to meet with you to discuss your end-of-life wishes. We will ask various questions and guide you through certain topics to help you decide how and to whom you would like your assets to be distributed upon your passing. Some of the topics you will need to consider may include:
  • Who do you wish to care for your minor children?
  • If you have a business, will it be sold, closed, or passed directly to an heir? If passed directly, who shall receive it?
  • Who shall inherit your house, car, boat, etc?
  • Do you wish for your children to receive access to your estate immediately, or would you prefer they wait until they reach a certain age?
  • Do you wish to be an organ donor?
  • Who would you like to make decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated?

While this list provides a few examples of the types of topics we will need to discuss, it is by no means comprehensive. Our Lake of the Ozarks estate planning attorney will ask different questions designed to help you evaluate your specific situation. Because of the vast amount of information that must be covered in this meeting, step one is often the most time-intensive.

Step 2:  Review Period

After the initial conversation, our team will put together the various documents required to complete your customized estate plan. We will then enter into a review period, where we finalize documents and carefully answer any questions you may have. We will dedicate significant time to making sure you fully understand what each of your documents say so that you can be comfortable with the contents of each.

Step 3:  Signing Ceremony

Finally, we will conduct a signing ceremony to complete the process. The signing ceremony takes place in a private environment with two witnesses and a notary. When you leave our center, you will have your original documents in hand. For your ease of access, we offer to send you electronic copies as well.

It's That Simple

Estate planning may seem like an intimidating prospect, but by following these three steps, the process can actually become quite simple. 

We understand that discussing end-of-life decisions can be a delicate and sensitive matter. Our goal is to provide a safe, private environment that is conducive to having these sometimes challenging conversations. 

If traveling to our law firm in Osage Beach MO is difficult, we may be able to come to you. We may also be able to have some of our conversations over the phone so that only one in-person meeting is required.

If you would like to learn more about our estate planning services at the Lake of the Ozarks, visit our website at www.ODonnellLawCenter.com or call us at 573-552-0317 to schedule your private consultation. 



We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.


The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3

Osage Beach, MO  65065