Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Debt: America's Current Financial Crisis

Debt is one of the greatest obstacles any adult can face, and unfortunately, it has become a pervasive problem in our modern society. In order to better illustrate the current debt burdens American households are carrying, our Lake of the Ozarks debt collections defense attorney is here to share the following 2016 statistics compiled by NerdWallet.

Here is how much debt the average household has in each of these categories:
  • Credit cards - $16,748
  • Car loans - $28,948
  • Student loans - $49,905
  • Mortgages - $176,222

Any given household may carry more or less debt than the average in each of these categories, depending on the family's specific lifestyle/needs. NerdWallet goes on to reveal that after adjusting the totals in any given category, the average household carries a total debt balance of $134,643 (including mortgages).

What Happens To All That Debt?

Typically, consumers take on debts to cover certain large purchases they would not otherwise be able to afford, such as a house, car, or boat. Ideally, consumers should analyze their big financial picture to determine how much debt they can afford to take on, and then take steps to repay their debts following the monthly schedule they agreed upon with their lenders. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.

Sometimes, life circumstances make it impossible to carefully weigh the pros and cons before taking on new debt. You may find it difficult to make ends meet one month and resort to credit cards to make up the difference. Alternatively, your employment (and therefore your income) may change, making it difficult or impossible to keep up with your monthly debt payments. Whatever the reason, the resulting situation is the same - you may suddenly find yourself saddled with debt that you cannot afford to repay.

When Debt Goes Unpaid

If you are late on a payment for your debt(s), the first thing that often happens is simple - you'll receive a communication from your creditors notifying you of the missed payment. Your creditors will most likely charge you a late fee as a consequence. If you make your payment and pay the late fee in a timely manner, the issue may go no further and everyone can move on.

Of course, if you didn't have the money to make the payment in the first place, you may find it difficult or impossible to make the payment as well as the late fee. Unfortunately, the longer you wait to make your payment (and the more months you miss) the more financial penalties you'll accumulate in the form of late fees and additional interest.

Long-Term Unsatisfied Debt

If your creditor is not able to secure payment from you, a number of different things may happen. If your debt is secured with collateral (such as your house or your car), the creditor may begin the process of trying to seize this collateral. The creditor may also sell your debt to a debt collection agency, at which point the collection agency will become your point of contact for dealing with the debt in question.

You may also be served with a lawsuit over your debt. Debt collection lawsuits are very serious - if not addressed appropriately, the consequences may be long-lasting and severe.

Building Your Debt Collections Defense

If you are being faced with a debt collection lawsuit, all may not be lost. You may have a valid defense, even if it does not seem obvious to you.

Our debt collections defense attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks can help you evaluate your situation to determine what strategy may be most advantageous for you. Our primary goal will be to ensure that your rights remain protected at all times. 

To learn more about our Missouri debt collections defense services, visit our website at You can also call us directly at (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

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:

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 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