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St. Paul Family Law And Estate Planning Blog

Why a health care directive is needed in an estate plan

When some people in Minnesota think about estate planning, they may imagine making a will or a trust and deciding what should happen to their assets. However, there is another important element of estate planning, and that is preparing for becoming incapacitated. This includes ensuring that there is someone who can make health care decisions on a person's behalf if they are unable to. A health care directive appoints an individual to do this, but most people do not have one.

Health care directives may have other names, including a medical directive, a durable health care power of attorney and a living will. Perhaps the most important element of this document is choosing the right agent. This is the person who will make decisions on a person's behalf. This may be a spouse, adult children or other family members or friends. People should discuss the directive and their wishes with the chosen agent. This gives the person the guidance that will be needed to make health care decisions under duress.

Why parents should consider collaborative divorce

The holiday season can be especially tough for those in Minnesota who have just gotten divorced. While emotions may run high, it is important for parents to understand that the holiday season should be geared toward what their children want to do. This will likely require the parents to put aside their differences and communicate effectively for the sake of their kids. By handling the process outside of court, it may be possible to create a plan that each side is comfortable with.

Avoiding a court order may be important for those who want to exert as much control over their holiday schedule as possible. Once a judge makes an order, it is usually binding on all parties until it is changed or revoked. Avoiding a courtroom also minimizes the chances that the children are used as pawns in a battle between the adults. Ideally, children will be given the same holiday experience that they had when their parents were still together.

How to avoid co-parenting disputes during the holidays

It's that time of year. Like many Minnesota families, you and your children are likely getting ready for the hustle and bustle of another holiday season. This year might be a bit different if you also happen to be one of the many families in the state who have recently gone through divorce. Are you a bit worried about your first post-divorce holiday season? You're definitely not alone in your struggle. Many parents worry that co-parent disputes will bring their holiday joy to a screeching halt.

The good news is there are several things you can do to lessen the chances of that happening. It's no secret that divorce prompts significant changes in children's lives, but it doesn't necessarily have to ruin them. If you're determined to help your kids adapt to your new lifestyle in a healthy, productive manner that includes enjoying the holidays, you can start by being proactive and by having a support plan in mind if a problem arises that you don't feel equipped to handle alone.

Tips for working with a difficult co-parent

Parents in Minnesota and across the United States want what is best for their children. Going through a divorce and then trying to co-parent with a toxic individual can make a parent feel like good parenting is impossible. However, there are steps a person can take in order to be the best parent possible despite working with a difficult co-parent.

The last thing a co-parent should do is focus on the things they can't change. No matter how much a person believes their ex-spouse needs to change, they cannot do anything since that work belongs to the ex-spouse. What they need to focus on are the things they are in control of, which are their own life and the way they respond to being provoked by their ex-spouse. Co-parenting with a difficult ex means that the ex is likely going to push the other parent's buttons. Having a steady temperament can help a person maintain their commitment to great parenting.

Joint custody more common in child custody cases

Minnesota fathers who get a divorce or who were never married to the mother of their children are much more likely to get joint custody than they might have decades ago. In 1980, sole custody went to mothers 80% of the time. In 2008, this happened just 42% of the time.

There are actually two types of custody, legal and physical. Legal custody is usually shared since it allows parents to determine what a child's religion, education and medical care will be like. Physical or residential custody refers to where the child lives. Even in cases in which parents share custody, this may not be equal for logistical reasons, and mothers are still generally favored. However, from 1980 to 2008, situations involving equal physical custody went from 5% to 27%. Situations in which custody was shared but the child spent more time at one parent's house than the other went from 3% to 18%.

Esate planning mistakes to avoid

Estimates indicate that more than 50% of the people in Minnesota and across the country don't have even a will, and less than 10% of the population has a comprehensive estate plan in place. It can be difficult to confront the questions of death inherent in creating an estate plan, but it is a necessary part of life to do so. Being aware of some of the common mistakes people run into in estate planning can make the process easier.

One of the biggest mistakes people can make is not having a will, or having a will that heirs cannot locate. It is common for people to think they can wait for a better time to have a will drafted, but this is a mistake. The better tack is to get the will done as a young person and then make changes to it as life events occur.

Is Minnesota a fifty-fifty state?

Minnesota is not a fifty-fifty state when it comes to property division during a divorce. In fact, most courts would not perform a simple half-and-half split. Even community-property states — that being the alternative system to Minnesota's — often have somewhat complicated rules to deal with the division of assets.

In Minnesota, the court decide how to divide marital property based on the rule of equitable division. This system should allow you to make more customized, specific decisions on how to distribute the property you and your spouse both own. However, this also means that you may have more work to do if you want to reach a fair divorce agreement. 

Don't forget that social media can affect your divorce

Whether you're one of many Minnesota residents who reach for their cell phones before even getting out of bed or among those who strictly limit their use of electronic devices, chances are social media plays a role in your life. If you're a parent, you likely spend a lot of time trying to keep tabs on what your kids are doing online. Advanced technology has definitely changed the face of family life in America.

Have you considered how your social media habits might affect your divorce? When you decided to file the petition, you likely thought about your children and how you would work to protect their best interests. Regarding social media, there are definitely precautions you'll want to take as you prepare for litigation, especially if you anticipate a child custody battle.

What matters can you address in a co-parenting plan?

Raising a child can be difficult under any circumstances, but if you are a resident of Minnesota who is also trying to raise that child alongside someone with whom you no longer share a romantic relationship, it can wind up being even more of a struggle. Often, parents who are no longer romantically involved with one another, but are both committed to child-rearing, find that they can make the co-parenting process easier by creating and agreeing to a parenting plan.

According to Psychology Today, the term “co-parenting plan” refers to a written document that stipulates the terms both parents agree to adhere to when raising the child or children they share. While a parenting plan may require updating periodically as a child grows older to reflect his or her changing needs, the main point of the plan is to set guidelines that are in the best interests of the child that both parents agree to follow.

Ensuring all martial property is accounted for in a divorce

Divorce is often an overwhelming procedure. The process of negotiating the terms of the divorce settlement may be difficult, especially when it comes to determining who is entitled to what. Dividing property and assets may be one of the most complicated feats of finalizing the divorce decree, as many people become attached to items during the marriage. Minnesota, like many other states in the nation, is an equitable division of property state. All marital property is divided in an equitable and fair fashion according to the judge presiding over the case. Yet, it is important to know what marital property is so that people can be sure to get everything they are entitled to in the divorce. 

Marital property, such as the family car, home and furniture, may seem commonplace when it comes time to divide property. There are, however, other items that may be less common. These include the following:

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