Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Should You Have A Prenuptial Agreement?

For those who you who may be getting married in the near future: congratulations! Marriage is a grand adventure that will be unlike anything else you have ever experienced. In addition to its many social impacts, marriage has some legal implications, too. If you and your fiance have not done so already, it's important to set aside some time during your wedding planning and discuss the possibility of establishing a prenuptial agreement.  O'Donnell Law Center may be able to help.


What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?

Simply put, a prenuptial agreement (also known as a "prenup") is a written agreement between you and your spouse-to-be that you enter into before you tie the knot. This document serves as a basic guideline for how your assets will be distributed in the event of death or divorce.

Obviously, no engaged couple wants to think about the possibility of their marriage ending, but unfortunately, death is a fact of life for everyone, and divorce is a fact of life for many people. Having this document in place can make things much simpler if and when the need arises.

Who Needs To Have A Prenup?

Prenuptial agreements are extremely versatile; they can serve several different purposes that can be beneficial in several different situations. Here are a few examples of couples who could benefit from establishing a prenup.
  • Couples With Disparate Income. Getting married to someone who makes significantly more or less money than you do is typically not a problem - unless you get divorced. Without a prenup in place, the lower-earning spouse may be able to get a significant portion of the other's income in alimony. You can use your prenup to set some ground rules for how income will be divided in the event of a divorce.
  • Couples With Disparate Debts. Just as spouses can enjoy the benefits of each other's income, they can also be shouldered with the responsibility of each other's debts. If your partner has significantly greater debt when entering the marriage, you may wish to establish a prenup to protect yourself from being held responsible for a portion of it if you end up divorcing.
  • Couples With Children From Prior Marriages. Prenups can be used for more scenarios than just those dealing with income, debt, and assets. If you have children from a prior marriage, for example, you can use your prenup in conjunction with your estate planning documents to dictate which of your assets will go straight to your children after you pass away (rather than automatically going to your surviving spouse). Your prenup will not replace your estate planning documents, but it can be very helpful when taken in conjunction with other estate planning methods.
These are only a few examples of situations wherein a prenuptial agreement can be beneficial. Contact our Lake of the Ozarks family attorney if you would like more help determining whether or not you need to establish a prenup.


What Happens If I Don't Have A Prenuptial Agreement?

While it is certainly possible to get divorced without a prenup in place, the process can be a bit more challenging. Missouri is what is known as an "equitable distribution state," which means that (in the absence of a prenup) the judge will divide your property in what he or she considers to be an equitable manner. Note that "equitable" does not necessarily mean "equal." That is, the courts do not have to divide the assets 50/50; they only have to divide them in what they believe to be a fair and equitable fashion. 

Establishing a prenuptial agreement may be an important step for anyone getting married at the Lake of the Ozarks. If you or someone you know is preparing to tie the knot, have them contact the team at O'Donnell Law Center.

Call the most trusted law firm at the Lake of the Ozarks to get started today.
We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

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


Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065
(Located on the McDonald's Side of the Building)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

4 Improper Reasons To Fire Someone

Managing employees is a tricky business. Building a team of excellent employees is crucial to the success of your company; without dependable, high-quality performance from your employees, your company can suffer enormously. As an employer, you will probably want to weed out any bad employees - and rightly so. However, firing someone for the "wrong" reasons (in the eyes of the law) can cause serious repercussions for you and your company. Our trusted business attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to help you guard against firing someone for the wrong reasons.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that carefully guards employees against any forms of discrimination in the workplace. Specifically, the EEOC strictly prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees on the basis of their national origin, sex, race, color, religion, age, genetic information, or disability. If employers are found guilty of violating the EEOC's mandates, they can face serious penalties.

Invalid Reasons To Fire Someone

When most people think about the EEOC's regulations, they think about the hiring process. However, discrimination can happen when terminating employment just as easily as it can happen when hiring. Here is a quick look at some of illegal reasons to fire someone.

1. Complaining and/or Retaliation
Sometimes, your employees may complain if they feel that the rights granted to them by the EEOC are being violated or that their workplace conditions do not meet the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)'s standards. As an employer, you have a responsibility for making sure these regulations are met. You cannot lawfully fire your employees for making any of these complaints. 

2. Discrimination
Just as it is illegal to not hire someone based on their sex, gender, race, religion, etc, it is illegal to fire someone for any of these same reasons. Some modern companies may pride themselves on having a young staff, for example, but they cannot legally terminate an aging employee. As another example, employers are not allowed to fire a pregnant employee or any employee who may be experiencing medical challenges associated with pregnancy or childbirth.

3. Workers' Compensation Claims
As an employer, you are legally obligated to create a safe work environment for your employees. If one of your team is injured on the job, you may have a legal responsibility to ensure that he receives access to the healthcare they need. You are not allowed to fire someone (or discriminate against them in any way) for filing a workers' compensation claim.

4. Violation of Public Policy
"Public policy" is a general term that refers to the unspoken rules of conduct governing our society. You cannot legally fire an employee for violating this public policy. For example, you cannot fire an employee for refusing to participate in any illegal conduct or for reporting any illegal act you may have committed.

Questions? Contact Our Business Attorney!
Firing employees can be a tough situation. Both for your sake and your company's, it is important that you make sure you are not violating any termination laws. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to our experienced business lawyer in Camden County, Missouri. We would be happy to assist in any way we can.


Call the most trusted law firm at the Lake of the Ozarks to get started today.
We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

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


Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065
(Located on the McDonald's Side of the Building)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Quick Tips For Attorneys Just Starting Out

Have you recently finished law school? From all of us at O'Donnell Law Center, congratulations! Graduation is an exciting step, but what lies ahead of you will be even more thrilling. The team at our Lake of the Ozarks law firm would be honored to help you prepare for this new phase of your life by sharing some of the tricks of the trade we have learned along the way. If you have not yet finished law school, tuck these tips away in your back pocket - you will probably find them useful in the future!


1. Find A Mentor.
No matter what your field is, finding a mentor is the first step to success. Your mentor should be someone you look up to, someone you respect, someone you trust, and someone you can count on to always give you sound advice. Finally, your mentor should be someone you can emulate your own practice after. Once you find your mentor, you can begin to adopt his or her habits into your own daily life.

2. Trust The Advice Of Those Who Have Gone Before You.
School is very valuable, but it cannot possibly replace the value of real life experience. You may have earned straight A's all through your education, but that does not mean that you have more to offer than an attorney who has been practicing for over twenty years. No matter how well you did in school, you should always respect and trust the advice of the other attorneys who have gone before you.

3. Respond To Your Clients ASAP.
Timeliness has always been a critical asset for attorneys, but its importance is only continuing to increase as our world becomes increasingly digitized. Your clients will expect you to respond immediately, and even small delays could cause them to look elsewhere for representation. Even if you do not have an answer for them yet, you should always respond to your client immediately to let them know that you are working on their issue and that you will get back to them when you have more information.

4. Don't Expect Instant Grandeur.
The media glamorizes the legal industry with abandon. Fancy corner offices and high-stakes litigation are exciting prospects for any attorney who is just starting out, but it's important to set realistic expectations. You will have to "do your time," just like every other attorney before you. Taking seemingly unimportant cases or even helping the other attorneys in your firm with their paperwork may be frustrating, but it's a necessary step in the process.

5. Be Courteous - Always.
Reputation is everything for everyone - but especially for attorneys. A vast majority of the business you get will likely come from referrals. In order to earn a steady stream of client referrals, you need to adopt a constant policy of being kind, courteous, and client-oriented with everyone you meet. By treating everyone respectfully (and equally), you will develop a strong reputation that can lead to great referral business.

Thanks For Trusting O'Donnell Law Center!
We are honored to be a resource for our clients all over the Lake Area. If you ever find yourself in need of legal representation at the Lake of the Ozarks, we hope you will give us a call! Our client-centered approach will help carry your burden so that you can can carry on with your life.


Call the most trusted law firm at the Lake of the Ozarks to get started today.
We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

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


Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065
(Located on the McDonald's Side of the Building)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Debunking 6 Estate Planning Myths

As much as we would probably like to think otherwise, we are all going to pass away at some point in time. The sooner we accept this fact of life, the sooner we can begin organizing our affairs so that everything will be in order for the surviving family members we leave behind. However, estate planning at the Lake of the Ozarks is not as cut-and-dry as we might think. The team at our Central Missouri law firm is here to help clear up some of the common myths about estate planning.


MYTH #1: Estate Planning Is Only For "Old People."
Life is unpredictable. While we will all hopefully go on to lead long, healthy lives, fatal accidents can and do happen to older and younger adults alike. Consequently, it's important for young adults to get at least a basic estate plan in place. If you do not have one in place already, you should definitely establish an estate planning after getting married, buying your first house, or having a baby.

MYTH #2: Only Wealthy People Need To Worry About Estate Planning
As we said in the beginning, everyone is going to die - not just wealthy individuals - and we are all going to leave something behind. Of course, estate planning encompasses much more than just designating who will inherit your assets; it also involves empowering someone to act on your behalf if something happens to you and you are no longer able to so, identifying who you would like to care for your minor children if you become unable to do so, and much more.

MYTH #3: Once I Get My Estate Plan Established, I'm Good To Go.
Contrary to popular belief, estate plans are not something you can put together and then store on a back shelf until it is needed. Families grow, relationships change, and financial assets come and go. It is important that your estate plan represent your current situation and desires. Having a baby, adopting a child, getting married, retiring, or getting divorced are all examples of life events that should spur you to update your will.

MYTH #4: I Will Have To Leave My Money To My Children; What They Do With It Is Up To Them.
Depending on their age and/or maturity level, leaving all of your assets to your children outright may not be a wise move. Even if you do choose to leave your assets to your children, establishing a trust will allow you to have some control over how much of your assets are given to them and when. For example, you could have the the majority of your funds held in a separate trust until each child reaches a chosen age, at which point they will be able to handle the funds responsibly.

MYTH #5: All I Need Is A Will. 
Wills are important, but they barely scratch the surface of estate planning capabilities. Your will can only come into effect after your death; for example, it does not offer you any way to designate what happens to you if you become incompetent or otherwise unable to care for yourself and/or your family. Having a will in place will not spare your assets from having to go through probate, so your heirs will still have to navigate the accompanying hassles and fees. Not only that, but wills are considered public documents; anyone can have access to it. If you wish to keep your affairs private, you may need to pursue other estate planning avenues.

MYTH #6: If I Don't Have Anyone To Leave My Estate To, I Don't Have To Worry About An Estate Plan.
If you do not establish an estate plan, your estate will be distributed to the beneficiaries that the Missouri state legislature has set forth in the Missouri statutes. If you are comfortable with this outcome, then it's true, you don't have to worry about an estate plan. If you have no friends or close family members that you wish to make beneficiaries of your estate plan, there are other options to consider, such as making the charity of your choice your beneficiary. 

O'Donnell Law Center Can Help With Your Estate Planning Needs!
If you are ready to plan your estate at the Lake of the Ozarks or if you have other questions about the process, don't hesitate to reach out to the team at O'Donnell Law Center. Our experienced Lake of the Ozarks estate planning attorney would be happy to help you get your affairs in order.


Call the most trusted law firm at the Lake of the Ozarks to get started today.
We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

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


Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065
(Located on the McDonald's Side of the Building)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Crime Rates at the Lake of the Ozarks

People relocate to the Lake of the Ozarks for any number of reasons - work, retirement, access to the water, a better environment for their children, and more. Moving to a new city requires a lot of adjustment on everybody's part; the whole family must learn the new culture and lifestyle. In the midst of making all of these adjustments, there is another concern weighing heavily on many of these movers' minds: the local crime rates.

As an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks, we are closely familiar with the local crime rates. The team at O'Donnell Law Center is here to help you gain a better understanding of crime at the Lake of the Ozarks.


Crime Rates at the Lake of the Ozarks

Fortunately for the current and prospective residents of the Lake Area, crime rates are generally below national average; however, the different towns that make up the Lake of the Ozarks vary slightly on their different rates. Consider these quick stats from 2013. (Source: AreaVibes.com)

Lake Ozark, MO
  • 0 Murders
  • 0 Rapes
  • 0 Robberies
  • 4 Reported Incidents of Assault
  • 4 Reported Incidents of Violent Crime
  • 2 Reported Incidents of Burglary
  • 60 Reported Incidents of Theft
  • 0 Reported Incidents of Vehicle Theft
  • 62 Reported Incidents of Property Crime
  • Chance of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 406
  • Chance of being the victim of property crime: 1 in 27
Camdenton, MO
  • 0 Murders
  • 2 Rapes
  • 0 Robberies
  • 13 Reported Incidents of Assault
  • 15 Reported Incidents of Violent Crime
  • 17 Reported Incidents of Burglary
  • 218 Reported Incidents of Theft
  • 8 Reported Incidents of Vehicle Theft
  • 243 Reported Incidents of Property Crime
  • Chance of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 254
  • Chance of being the victim of property crime: 1 in 16
Laurie, MO
  • 0 Murders
  • 0 Rapes
  • 0 Robberies
  • 6 Reported Incidents of Assault
  • 6 Reported Incidents of Burglary
  • 20 Reported Incidents of Theft
  • 0 Reported Incidents of Vehicle Theft
  • 26 Reported Incidents of Property Crime
  • Chance of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 154
  • Chance of being the victim of property crime: 1 in 36
Four Seasons, MO
  • Chance of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 1,843
  • Chance of being the victim of property crime: 1 in 226

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney at the Lake

While local crime rates remain low overall, crime obviously can (and does) happen at the Lake. As an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks, Deirdre O'Donnell takes great pride in representing and defending local individuals charged with a crime. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, contact our Lake of the Ozarks law firm for the assistance you need.


Call the most trusted law firm at the Lake of the Ozarks to get started today.
We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

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


Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065
(Located on the McDonald's Side of the Building)