Friday, August 26, 2016

Assigning A Guardian: Important Considerations

As a parent, ensuring your children are properly cared for should always be one of your top priorities. While few people want to think about their own mortality (especially parents with children under the age of 18), taking steps now so that your children will have a loving, trustworthy guardian to care for them in the event that something happens to you is an important aspect of parenting. Whether you are preparing for your first baby or are already parenting multiple children, nominating a legal guardian for your children is simple. Our estate planning attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to help.

Nominating A Guardian For Your Children

Once your children turn eighteen, they are an adult and no longer legally considered to be in need of a guardian. Until that day, however, they need a guardian to watch over them. Hopefully you will be around well beyond the time needed to fulfill that role.  But in the event you are not, without having nominated a legal guardian for your children, someone else will have to make that determination. Your choice of guardian can be set forth in your written Will. That way your choice is clear.  While a guardianship appointment would still need to be applied for in probate court and approved by the probate judge, at least your wishes will be considered.

How To Choose a Guardian for your Children

Deciding who to nominate is not always an easy decision. Asking these questions can help you identify whom may be a good option:
  • Can I Trust This Person To Care For My Children As I Would?
    • It's no secret that parents often feel strongly about their parenting choices and value systems. It's important that your chosen person will be able to uphold the same standards and values that you do.
  • Will My Children Still Have Access To Their Other Relatives?
    • Losing their parents will be hard enough - you don't want to make things even harder on your children by choosing a person who will be unwilling/unable to let them spend time around other relatives.
  • Will This Person Provide A Stable Environment For My Children?
    • Children need stability in order to thrive. A person who is constantly moving from city to city or in and out of multiple relationships may not be a smart choice for a guardian.
  • Do My Children Feel Comfortable With My Choice?
    • If your children are old enough to understand the concept of guardianship, it is worth allowing them to voice their opinion. If they feel strongly that they do not wish to live with a person, he/she may not be a good choice.

Guardianship Laws

Once you have decided who to nominate as your children's guardian, it is important to ensure your wishes are documented in your properly drafted and executed Will. An estate planning lawyer in Osage Beach MO can help with this process. Reviewing your will every couple of years thereafter will allow you to make adjustments if your relationship with your originally nominated person changes for any reason.

Contact O'Donnell Law Center For Help Appointing A Guardian

While thinking about who to nominate as your children's legal guardian may not be a pleasant process, it will ultimately bring you peace of mind. Starting this conversation sooner, rather than later is a good idea, as it may be difficult to arrive at the right decision. Our estate planning attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks is happy to help facilitate this process. Visit our website to learn more about our estate planning services in Camden County MO.

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, August 18, 2016

Is Texting And Driving A Crime?

While most people agree that texting and driving can be a dangerous combination, there is not a complete ban against it in all states. Missouri is one of those states. Keep reading to learn more about some of the unique laws of texting and driving.

Texting & Driving - Illegal In Missouri?

Under Missouri law, texting and driving is not illegal as long as the driver:
  • is at least 22 years of age
  • is operating a personal vehicle (not a commercial one)
Many people are surprised to learn that it is not illegal for adults in Missouri to text and drive Missouri is one of only four states to not yet have a state-wide ban against texting and driving (Texas, Arizona, and Montana are the other states currently without a total ban against the practice).

Should I Allow Myself To Text & Drive?

Though it is not necessarily illegal (at this time) for adults to text and drive, it does not mean it is a safe. Texting and driving can, and sometimes does, lead to serious car accidents and physical injuries. The consequences of injuring another driver as a result of being distracted on the road by texting can be severe. If you injure other drivers or passengers, you could be subject to any (or several) of the following consequences.

Increased Insurance Expenses
If you are deemed at-fault for an auto accident, your insurance premiums will likely increase. Car insurance companies determine their patrons' premium costs based upon risk. If you are at fault for an accident, you will likely be viewed as more likely to cause future accidents and, therefore, pose a greater risk. 

Expensive Medical Bills
A serious car accident can result in steep medical bills, both for you and the other parties involved. If you are deemed at-fault, then you will likely be held responsible for covering the other parties' medical costs. While your insurance company may cover these expenses for the people you injure, it likely will not cover yours.  You may also see financial consequences down the line, such as an increase in your insurance premiums.

Felony Criminal Charges
Texting and driving that results in an accident with injuries or death to others can come with steep penalties, including  a criminal conviction, fines, restitution, imprisonment, jail and a permanent criminal record.

Facing Consequences? Contact O'Donnell Law Center

If you are being charged with a crime following a car accident at the Lake of the Ozarks, don't hesitate to reach out to our attorney in Osage Beach MO.  Visit our website or call us at 573-552-0317 to learn more about how we may be able to help you.

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
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3

Osage Beach, MO  65065

Friday, August 12, 2016

3 Tips To Help You Build A Solid Prenuptial Agreement

There are few times in a person's life as romantic as planning a wedding. Once you've gotten engaged to the man/woman of your dreams, your life may seem like a whirlwind of planning and excitement. Amidst all of this excitement, however, it is important to dedicate some time and attention to one slightly less romantic (but equally critical) part of the process: building a prenuptial agreement.

Understanding The Importance Of A Prenuptial Agreement

Barring certain unusual circumstances, no newlywed couple thinks their marriage will end in divorce. Since the U.S. divorce rate continues to hover around fifty percent, however, the unfortunate truth is that approximately half of these newlywed couples will eventually experience it. Hopefully it won't happen to you, but it is important to be be prepared just in case.

Building a prenuptial agreement is an important part of being prepared. By building this document before you say "I do," you can establish some basic guidelines for how debts, assets, and parental rights will be shared in the event that you someday end up separating.

Tips For A Prenuptial Agreement

If you are getting married at the Lake of the Ozarks, the team at O'Donnell Law Center would be happy to help you prepare for this new chapter of your life by building a prenuptial agreement that will protect your interests. Here are a few simple suggestions to help you build a prenuptial agreement.

1. Don't Wait Until The Last Minute
As with any written contract, it is important to take your time as you build your prenuptial agreement. Most experts recommend finalizing this document at least six months before the wedding so you have time to make sure you are comfortable with its terms and that your partner has time to review it with his/her attorney. If you finalize your agreement less than a month of the wedding date, your spouse could eventually attempt to invalidate the agreement by claiming that he/she was made to "sign under pressure."

2. Talk Openly About Your Finances
Finances can be a tricky topic to discuss, even among married couples. Since financial challenges are some of the most frequent contributors to divorce, however, it is critical that you and your new spouse learn how to openly and honestly communicate about this aspect of your lives. Building a prenuptial agreement provides the perfect opportunity to practice these types of conversations.

3. Reduce the Terms to Writing
One benefit of a prenuptial agreement is that you and your spouse-to-be will outline written strategies for eventual division of assets and debts while you are both being sensitive and respectful of each other's needs.  Once you have discussed and agreed upon the terms of the prenup that are important to you, it is important to write them down and share them with your lawyer, for incorporation into the formal, written document.

O'Donnell Law Center Is Here To Help

If you need to establish a premarital agreement at the Lake of the Ozarks, contact the team at O'Donnell Law Center. We have helped multiple couples navigate this important stepping stone towards marriage, and we would be honored to help you towards yours. Contact our family attorney in Osage Beach MO to get started.

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

4 Things To Know About Debt Collections Defense

Staying on top of your finances can be a tricky process. Due to the inherently unpredictable nature of life, unforeseen circumstances may suddenly arise out of nowhere and throw your finances out of balance. If/when this happens, paying your monthly bills may become a challenge. Late payments often incur late fees and other penalty charges, which then makes them even more expensive - and thus even harder to pay off. All too quickly, your finances may spiral down into a vicious cycle that may be challenging to overcome. If you feel yourself getting sucked into this pattern, it is crucial that you contact a Missouri debt collections defense attorney immediately.

Being Pursued For Delinquent Debt

Unfortunately, creditors are often not very sympathetic to the situations you're facing that may have led to your inability to pay your bills. All creditors know is that they have not received the money owed to them, and often all they care about is taking steps to get that money.

Buying and selling debt is its own market these days. In fact, it's so common that the original creditor (such as a mortgage lender) may only have your account for a short while. It may have changed hands multiple times since the debt was originally incurred, so by the time you receive late payment notifications, you may be receiving these notifications from companies you've never even heard of.

Things To Know About Debt Collections Defense

In order to build a defense in the face of a debt collections lawsuit, it is important to educate yourself on the subject. Here are a few things everyone should know about the debt collections process.

1. Debt Creditors And Debt Collectors Are Not The Same Thing
Though these terms are sometimes used interchangeably by laypersons, debt creditors and debt collectors are two different entities. It is important to understand the distinction between them. A debt creditor is the entity from which you initially take on the debt. A debt collector is the entity that actively pursues delinquent debts to ensure they are repaid.

2. You Should Request Verification Of The Debt
If a debt collector pursues you for the debt, you should dispute the debt and request verification of it, in writing, within 30 days of the date you receive the initial written notice of the debt. Once you have properly disputed the debt and requested verification of it, debt collectors must provide you with this official documentation before they can continue to pursue you for it. At a minimum, debt verification usually constitutes a statement that includes a description of the amount owed and the name/address of the original creditor.

3. Debt Collectors Must Follow Specific Guidelines When Pursuing A Lawsuit
If you are being sued for a delinquent debt, we recommend consulting with an attorney to identify potential loopholes in the lawsuit. Debt collectors are required to follow very specific guidelines and procedures when suing for a delinquent debt. If these guidelines are not followed exactly, you may be able to get the case dismissed altogether.

4. Debt Collections Cases Are Governed By A Statute Of Limitations
The statute of limitations applies to debt collections lawsuits just like it applies to any other lawsuit; if action is not pursued until the statute has expired, the case may be dismissed. Some creditors may pursue court action even after an expired statute of limitations.  If this happens, it is important to raise this issue early on in the lawsuit.

Contact O'Donnell Law Center For Debt Collections Representation

Being pursued for a delinquent debt may be one of the most stressful experiences a person can face. It is important not to give up hope, however. Though things may seem bleak, you could have options and defenses that help you get out from underneath the crushing debt you are facing. Our Lake of the Ozarks debt collections attorney is here to help you get this behind you.

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