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April 2014 Archives

Make estate planning part of your spring cleaning

Now that the spring conditions are finally returning to Minnesota after a long and particularly cold winter, people are thinking about their favorite warm weather activities from fishing and gardening to softball and swimming. Still others, however, are thinking about the chores they will need to get done, including their annual spring cleaning.

Terms of service matter when it comes to digital assets

When the average Minnesotan begins the estate planning process, the first assets that they consider are often cash and investments, along with tangible assets like cars, homes, or valuable art or jewelry. These are the core types of things that we think about when contemplating passing something down to the next generation but these days tangible items are not the only things we should be concerned about. Where we once simply handed over albums full of family photos, now we maintain our archives digitally, often using social media tools like Facebook to chronicle our lives.

Engineers settle with tech companies over wage theft

A group of more than 64,000 software engineers have reached an agreement with some of the country’s largest tech companies over an alleged $3 billion in wage theft over the course of four years. The engineers worked with the Department of Labor to obtain the settlement after it became clear that the software companies were working together to keep pay at a low, stable rate. Specifically, the companies colluded not to compete for employees. This had the result of eliminating competition for top talent, which prevented the normal salary increases that come along with changing one’s job. 

Chef's termination leads to FMLA claim

A man who was fired from his job at a restaurant has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer, alleging that his firing violated the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave from one’s job in order to attend to a personal medical emergency or a medical emergency for a member of one’s immediate family. Most people are familiar with the FMLA as it pertains to parental leave to care for a new baby, but it is often utilized for many other reasons as well. 

Trust prosecutors offer more oversight for irrevocable trusts

Irrevocable trusts are a popular tool in estate planning, since they offer a secure and private way to transfer assets to the next generation while minimizing the tax impact on one’s estate. These types of trusts have a lot of benefits with one major caveat – the person creating the trust must give up control of the trust and the assets. This means they must appoint a third party trustee to manage the trust on behalf of the beneficiaries. Trustees have been the primary source of management for trusts in the past, but recently as trust and tax laws have been changing, more people are seeing a need for a second set of eyes in the form of a trust prosecutor.

President signs order to promote equal pay

President Obama signed an executive order this week requiring all federal contractors to publish data about their wages with gender and racial breakdowns included, so that companies that pay women or minorities less on average will have an incentive to change their practices to eliminate this disparity. The executive order also bans government contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss compensation with their coworkers, since pay tends to be more equal in workplaces where colleagues are permitted to talk about pay.

Survey finds teen workers more at risk for harassment

A recent survey found that at least one in three teenage workers experience sexual harassment at work. Experts say that although this ratio is high, it is likely that the reality is even worse, since many victims of sexual harassment in any age group do not report the incident to supervisors or law enforcement officers.

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