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February 2014 Archives

Internships leave young workers in legal purgatory

Young people coming out of college and graduate school these days are often told that internships are the necessary first step to starting a career. Internships in concept are a sort of modern version of the apprenticeship in which a relatively inexperienced but capable person has an opportunity to learn at the feet of more experienced professionals. For some college students or graduate students this can be done in exchange for credit at school, but in many cases internships are entirely uncompensated. The lack of pay creates some obvious problems for interns, most of them financial, but also gives rise to some less expected issues, such as a lack of employment protection under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Getting started on your estate plan

For the many Minnesotans who have not yet started the estate planning process, the prospect of doing so can be intimidating. Not only does one have to take stock of all of their assets and organize their finances to a certain extent, but estate planning also involves having some uncomfortable conversations about scenarios that most of us would rather avoid. However, this is a necessary process and without any sort of estate plan family members are left to figure things out on their own while dealing with state probate processes that may be confusing.

Partner of 51 years fights for share of estate

A woman had been with her companion for 51 years when she passed away at age 92. The woman left behind a $200 million estate that oddly did not have any provisions for her long-time partner. Her partner challenged the will and asked to be included and eventually reached a settlement with executors that allowed him to keep the house that they shared along with a substantial trust account.

Accusations of discrimination circulate around executive's pay

The internet is abuzz with accusations of discrimination by General Motors after Securities and Exchange Commission public filings revealed the salary of their new CEO. The CEO of the company, Mary Barra, is the first woman to head up the American auto giant. First praised as a long-overdue progression, the appointment is now garnering criticism since the base pay of Ms. Barra ($4.4 million per year) is about half of what her predecessor, Dan Akerson, earned ($9 million per year).

Potential Vikings lawsuit rests on investigation results

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says that whether or not he decides to pursue legal action against the team will depend on the outcome of the internal investigation into the conduct of the special teams coach. We have discussed this possible case in an earlier post just after Mr. Kluwe’s open letter on the issue was published on a popular sports website.

Valuation disparity leads to conflict between estate and IRS

A difference in valuation has led to a serious conflict between the executors of the late pop star Michael Jackson’s estate and the Internal Revenue Service. There are a few main points of conflict. First is the problem of the appropriate date of valuation, since Jackson’s estate was in serious debt and financial troubles at the time of his death but shortly after began increasing in value as prudent estate executors effectively managed assets. For tax purposes, the value can be assessed either on the date of death or six months after the person’s passing, but there must be agreement between the IRS and the estate on the appropriate date.

Dealing with family heirlooms in your estate plan

When you start to create an estate plan, one of your first concerns will likely be how you will distribute your earned income and other financial assets among your heirs and beneficiaries after you die. However, money is often not the most important thing that your loved ones may hope to inherit in your will. On the contrary, statistics indicate that individuals are far more concerned with what will happen to family heirlooms than they are with money when their loved ones pass away.

Court decisions lead more employees towards wage and hour suits

As with other areas of the law, the landscape of employment law is ever-changing. Court opinions and regulatory actions always impact the real life applications of employment protection laws, particularly as debates continue over issues like employment discrimination. One influential case from last year has cast a long shadow in that area – the nationwide employment discrimination case against Wal-Mart. That case was dismissed by the United States Supreme Court for lack of cohesiveness as a class action. The result was stricter standards for filing class action lawsuits for employment discrimination.

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