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Part I picCollecting Final Wages from Your Employer

Most of us don’t work for free. If your employer hasn’t paid you all of the wages you’ve earned, then that’s exactly what you’d be doing. What follows is a quick guide on what to do if your employer owes you wages. The rules for wages due to an employee upon separation from their employment in Minnesota are located in Minnesota Statute §§ 181.13 and 181.14.

If You’ve Been Terminated

If you’ve been terminated by your employer, then Minnesota Statute § 181.13 requires that your employer pay you your final wages within 24 hours of your termination. If your employer doesn’t pay you within those 24 hours, the employer will be in default and will be liable to the employee for his/her regular rate of pay for up to fifteen days.

If You’ve Voluntarily Left Your Employment

If you’ve voluntarily left your employment, then Minnesota Statute § 181.14 requires that your employer pay you your final wages by your next pay day following the date you left your employment. The date of payment is not permitted to be longer than 20 days after your last day.

How to Collect Your Final Wages

First, you need to inform your former employer than you are still owed wages in writing. You do not need to know the exact amount of wages that you are owed, but you do need to make a demand in writing. The Department of Labor & Industry (“DLI”) suggests you send the letter to your employer via certified mail to ensure that they received notice of your claim. Form letters are available on the DLI website here.

If your employer does not meet the standards explained in Minnesota Statutes §§ 181.13 and 181.14, you have two options. One is that you can file a wage claim with the Labor Standards unit at the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry. The statute of limitations for making a wage claim with DLI is two years. DLI suggests you include the following information when you contact DLI about your wage claim:

  1. your name, address and telephone number;
  2. your former employer’s name, address, telephone number and manager or owner’s name;
  3. your last day of work;
  4. the date you demanded your final wages;
  5. the amount you are due in final wages (if unknown provide as accurate an estimate as possible);
  6. the dates you worked for your former employer yet were not paid; and
  7. whether you were terminated from your job or you quit your job.

Second, you are also permitted to bring a lawsuit against your former employer for those wages. Note that if the wages you are owed are less than $10,000, you would need to file your complaint in small claims court. If the wages are more than $10,000, you would file in state district court.

If you’ve been let go from your job or have found a new job but are still owed wages by your former employer, contact a lawyer a right away to help you get the wages you already earned. Otherwise, you’re just working for free.

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countdownfromseven - DG iStockI really don’t know how probate got such a bad reputation, but in my experience it isn’t that bad. As other contributors to Epilawg have noted (see for example: Estate Planning Myth #6: I Must Avoid Probate), Probate can be a pretty painless process. Closing an Informal Probate illustrates that point perfectly. In 3 easy steps, an estate administered informally can be closed with only a few filings and no court appearances.

Step 1: Wait 4 months

Minnesota law requires four months to pass from the date of appointment of your Personal Representative or the date you published Notice to Creditors, whichever is later, before an informal probate can be closed.
Pretty easy, right?

Step 2: Prepare a Statement to Close

Prepare a Statement to Close stating the Personal Representative has:

  1. Published notice to creditors at least 4 months prior to the date of this statement. (If you did Step 1, this takes care of itself!)
  2. Fully administered the estate by paying and settling all claims, expenses of the estate, and other taxes, except as otherwise listed in the statement (if there are unsettled claim or expenses, then they should be listed on the statement)
  3. Inventoried and distributed the assets of the estate to the persons entitled to receive them, and
  4. Sent a copy of the statement to all distributees and all unpaid creditors or claimants of whom the Personal Representative is aware, and furnished a full account of the administration, in writing, to the distributees whose interests are affected.

The Personal Representative must sign this statement in front of a notary and you’re on to Step 3.

Step 3: Mail & File the Statement to Close

Mail the Statement to Close and a Copy of the Final Account (which you made for Step 2, statement 4) to the distributees. Also mail a copy of the Statement to Close to any unpaid claimants. The statute only requires you to file the Statement to Close with the Probate Court, but many attorneys (including yours truly) will also file a copy of the Final Account and an Affidavit of Mailing showing these copies have been sent to prove you complied with the Notice requirements.

After filing the statement, you’re done! Your informal probate is closed.

Probate is Painless.

PS: If you’re feeling ambitious, have the distributees sign receipts verifying they received their share of the estate, and file those with the Probate Court. While it isn’t required, it is a nice way to ensure everyone involved knows the assets have been distributed and the estate is wrapped up.

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Postnuptial Agreements

by Jayne Sykora on March 12, 2015

Close up of vintage typewriter machine - iStockWe’ve written before about prenuptial agreements (“prenups”), which are agreements entered into by a couple before marriage that most often outline the ownership and division of property should a marriage end either by divorce or death of one of the spouses. In previous posts, Jen Santini provided a general overview of prenups and Erika Rosenhagen discussed myths surrounding prenups.

In this post, I’ll discuss the basics of postnuptial agreements (“postnups”), which are very similar to prenups, except that the agreements are entered into between spouses after the marriage has occurred. In general, postnups can determine all matters that may be determined by a prenuptial agreement, except that it may not determine how child support or child custody would be handled of any child of the spouses.

Why Have a Postnup?

There are a few reasons why a married couple would enter into a postnuptial agreement. One main reason would be if they were looking to amend or revoke a prenuptial agreement. In order to do either, a postnup would have to be signed.

Another reason many married couples create postnuptial agreements is to help remove a source of disagreement over finances and assets. Additionally, another reason to create a postnuptial agreement is when the financial status of either spouse changes after their wedding. These changes could be because of a large windfall of money or other property to one spouse through inheritance or selling a business, as examples.

Validity

In order to have a valid postnuptial agreement, there are generally a few requirements, which can vary by state. Under Minnesota law, a prenuptial agreement must be both procedurally and substantively fair and equitable both at the time of its execution and at the time of its enforcement (just like a prenuptial agreement). Additionally, both parties must be represented by separate legal counsel, which is different from prenuptial agreements where only the parties must be afforded the opportunity to seek legal counsel, but are not required to be represented.

Keep in mind, under Minnesota law, a postnuptial contract is presumed to be unenforceable if either party commences legal separation or dissolution within two (2) years of the date of its execution, unless the spouse seeking to enforce the postnuptial can establish that the agreement is fair and equitable.

Finally, like prenuptial agreements, a postnuptial must be in writing, executed in the presence of two witnesses and acknowledged by the parties, and notarized.

A postnuptial contract or settlement may be amended or revoked only by a later, valid postnuptial contract that follows the same requirements as described above.

Pre vs. Post

If couples have the choice to choose between entering into a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement, a prenuptial agreement is generally the better choice. The reason is because it is clearer who is bringing what into the marriage before it happens, not after the fact. Additionally, in a postnuptial agreement, absence of bargaining power is absent on the part of the spouse that is proposing the agreement, since the couple is already married. Therefore, prenuptial agreements are much more common.

Should you have questions about either a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, then contact an estate planning attorney in your area to learn more.

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Dissolving a Business Entity: Why & How

by Jayne Sykora March 9, 2015 Business

Oftentimes, on the cusp of starting a new business, a business owner(s) is excited, slightly anxious, and cautiously optimistic about the future. In this haze of excitement, what often is not discussed, considered or even […]

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Unintended Consequences of Disinheriting Children

by Jennifer Santini March 5, 2015 Estate Planning 101

One thing I learned quickly after becoming an estate planning attorney is that there are often times when my clients’ wishes are not the same as what I would do in their particular situation. For […]

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Selling Real Estate Out of a Conservatorship

by Jayne Sykora February 23, 2015 Incapacity Planning

Last fall, I covered the basics on conservatorships (see: Conservatorship Basics Part 1 and Part 2). As a review, a conservatorship is needed when an adult individual is impaired to the extent of lacking sufficient […]

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Minnesota and the UTC

by Maggie Green February 19, 2015 Estate Planning 101

The 2015 Minnesota Legislature may adopt the Uniform Trust Code.  The proposed legislation would provide new rules regarding the administration of trusts, codify some common laws and clarify procedures available to those involved with the administration of trusts. […]

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In the News: Facebook’s Legacy Contact

by Jennifer Santini February 16, 2015 Estate Planning 101

Last week, Facebook announced that users of the social media website could designate a “legacy contact,” who would be able to control and manage the user’s Facebook page once the user passed away. The legacy […]

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Timeshare Exit Strategies

by Jayne Sykora February 5, 2015 Real Estate

Over the last few years, I have had a few clients who own timeshares. A timeshare is typically a resort of units in which multiple parties hold rights to use the property and each owner […]

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To Amend or Just Start Over?

by Jennifer Santini February 3, 2015 Estate Planning 101

If you have a current estate plan, as you know, we recommend that you review it on a regular basis. If there are changes that need to be made, it can be done through an […]

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Tax Season Considerations: 1099 and Tangible Property

by Erik Doerr January 22, 2015 Business

The month of January, of course, brings the start of the tax filing season.  As such, there are a couple of items to think about. These two particular items are mainly directed at businesses, however, […]

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