Blog

Welcome to the Davis Law Firm blog! Our blog posts relate to important legal updates in the aviation law industry and provide answers to questions frequently asked by our clients. If you have questions or comments about one of our blogs, or would like to make a suggestion for a new post, please feel free to email us or call our office.

We hope that you will check back regularly for new blog posts, and we look forward to hearing your comments!


     

Client Highlight: MIA Hunters
July 19, 2017

Trekking through the jungle on a mission to find a missing plane while dodging spiders, scorpions, snakes, and crocodiles sounds like a scene from a movie. But for the late Bryan Moon and MIA Hunters, it is just part of the mission.

During World War II, more than 76,000 U.S. soldiers went missing. MIA Hunters, a non-profit organization, has worked for over 20 years, setting personal safety aside, in an attempt to locate the crash sites of missing WWII airmen.  Its initial mission was to locate U.S. airmen, but has since expanded to all nationalities that fought in the war.

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Client Highlight: Dr. Joe
March 28, 2017

Plastic surgery is not just about making people pretty, which is why Davis Law Firm has chosen to share this story about a client it is honored to serve. While touring several NetJets, Inc. aircraft this fall at the invitation of Randy Keith, Vice President of NetJets, Inc., Christopher Davis first met Dr. Joe Gryskiewicz.

Early in his medical career, “Dr. Joe” Gryskiewicz spent a six-month volunteer trip in the remote mountain regions Guatemala. However, his most meaningful experiences came from the Casa Feliz orphanage where many of the children suffered from cleft lips or palates.

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Minnesota's Adoption of the Uniform Trust Code
February 19, 2016

Effective January 1, 2016, Minnesota has adopted its own version of the Uniform Trust Code (UTC). While not identical to the versions of the UTC adopted by other states, the new statute will serve to make Minnesota’s trust laws more comparable to those of the other states, which becomes important in an increasingly mobile environment. One purpose of updating Minnesota’s trust laws was to make it easier to administer trusts of individuals who move to a different state (or travel between states) after the establishment of their trust.

One of the significant changes to the trust code is the “directed trust” concept. A directed trust is one in which the settlor (or the individual creating the trust) appoints an individual or entity to oversee and direct the trustee in a specific duty.

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Forming an LLC in Minnesota
January 11, 2016

An LLC, or limited liability company, is one of the most common types of business entities used today. The initial set-up of an LLC in Minnesota is fairly simple. First, you must select a name for your business. The name must be unique and not currently in use by another business entity in Minnesota. Second, you must complete your Articles of Organization, which list the name and address of the business and the name and address of the individual creating the business. The Articles of Organization also list a registered agent to accept service of process on behalf of the LLC. The Articles of Organization must then be filed with the Secretary of State’s office. The third step is to draft the Operating Agreement of the business, which is a document that dictates how the LLC will be managed and establishes some of the general rights and responsibilities of the members and managers of the LLC. Once you have completed these three steps, your LLC is valid and ready to do business.

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When to Update your Estate Plan
December 11, 2015

A frequent question our estate planning clients ask is how often they need to review and update their estate planning documents. Historically, it was common for attorneys to suggest that their clients come in to review their estate plans every 5-7 years. While there are periods in your life during which it may be prudent to update your estate planning documents within a few years, most estate planning documents today are drafted to encompass a multitude of consistencies and to grow with your changing situation.

We recommend that our clients contact us upon a significant change in their lives, such as retirement, divorce, death or birth of an important family member, diagnosis of a terminal or cognitively degenerative disease, or children reaching the age of majority. Such events can generate changes in a client’s fiduciary selection or distribution terms and can be an important time to update the language within an estate plan to coincide with the client’s changing intent and to remove provisions which are no longer relevant.

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Update of Minnesota Gift and Estate Tax Provisions
November 22, 2015

The Minnesota estate tax rate and exemptions are in the midst of a phase-in of new rates and exemption amounts passed by the legislature in 2014:

Year

MN Estate Tax Exemption

MN Estate Tax Rate

2014

$1,200,000.00

9-16%

2015

$1,400,000.00

10-16%

2016

$1,600,000.00

10-16%

2017

$1,800,000.00

10-16%

2018 and thereafter

$2,000,000.00

10-16%

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When and Why to Write a Will
October 3, 2015

It is a common misconception that Wills avoid probate. Often, when people realize that Wills do not, in fact, avoid probate, they no longer see a purpose in writing a Will. However, the benefit to drafting a Will is that it allows you to choose when, how, and to whom your assets are distributed after your death. If you die without a Will, you are determined to have died intestate. In such an event, the intestacy laws of the state where you lived at your death will dictate the distribution of your assets. Basically, your assets will be divided among your closest living biological (or legally adopted) relatives. If you want to avoid a state law deciding who inherits your wealth, you can instead name individuals and/or charities within a Will.

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How to Avoid Probate in Minnesota:
September 14, 2015

Many people wish to avoid probate upon their deaths. Whether your estate must be probated is determined by the titling (or ownership) and designation of your assets upon your death. Assets which avoid probate are those which are held as joint tenants with a surviving individual, or which have established beneficiary designations or pay on death/transfer on death (POD/TOD) designations as of the owner’s death. Other assets which avoid probate are those titled to a revocable or irrevocable trust. These types of assets transfer automatically upon the owner’s death and do not generate a probate proceeding provided that the designated recipient is living at the time of the transfer.

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The Basics of Purchasing an Aircraft from the Buyer’s Perspective
November 19, 2013

 Prior to purchasing an aircraft, a potential buyer should consider retaining an independent qualified aircraft maintenance operator to assist in the selection and inspection of an appropriate aircraft. Once the buyer has identified an aircraft to purchase, it is customary for him or her to issue a non-binding letter of intent identifying the aircraft and engine make/model/serial numbers. The letter of intent also typically lists the proposed purchase price and deposit amount, identifies any third parties, such as an escrow agent and maintenance operator, and assigns additional costs to the parties. Because the letter of intent is non-binding, it may be cancelled by either party prior to the execution of the purchase agreement. Thus, all terms included in the letter of intent must be specifically re-stated in the purchase agreement to be enforceable.

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Pre-Purchase Inspections: Buyer Beware
October 14, 2013

It is important for potential buyers to note that used business jet aircraft are most often purchased “where is, as is.” In the simplest terms, this means that the buyer is purchasing the aircraft in its current condition, without the benefit of any warranties or guarantees. During the purchase process, buyers have one opportunity to avoid substantial maintenance costs; that is to conduct a pre-purchase inspection of the aircraft.

Prior to purchasing an aircraft, a buyer should retain an independent qualified aircraft maintenance operator to assist in the selection and inspection of the aircraft. Involving a qualified maintenance professional prior to the transfer of ownership of the aircraft can avoid costly surprises that are often easily identified during a pre-purchase inspection. While the expenses of obtaining a pre-purchase inspection, including the cost of positioning the aircraft, are typically born by the buyer, they pale in comparison with the potential savings in post-purchase maintenance fees.

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Role of an Attorney in the Purchase of a Business Jet Aircraft
July 30, 2013

When purchasing an aircraft, it is important for a buyer to retain an aviation attorney who possesses the knowledge and experience necessary to navigate through the complicated, and sometimes lengthy, purchase process. Aviation law is a complex field that incorporates many different aspects of the law. An aviation attorney plays a vital role as an advocate and consultant while guiding the buyer through the process. This includes, for example, negotiating with the seller on behalf of the buyer, working with the buyer to minimize both taxes and registration fees, and providing consultation on options for liability protection. An attorney ensures that every necessary step is taken to avoid future headaches with the various state, federal, and international regulators.

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Aircraft Purchase Summary
July 12, 1013

For those individuals who may be interested in purchasing an aircraft, we have compiled a brief description of steps that are necessary to complete the transaction once you have selected an aircraft to purchase. For any potential aircraft owner, it is important to understand the basics of the process prior to purchasing an aircraft.

Non-Binding Letter of Intent

Once you have identified an aircraft to purchase, it is customary for the buyer to issue a non-binding letter of intent identifying the aircraft and engine make/model/serial number. The letter of intent will also spell out the proposed purchase price and deposit amount, as well as other details of the purchase process. It is important to note that the letter of intent is non-binding and may be cancelled without penalty by either party prior to the execution of the purchase agreement.

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Minnesota Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney Updates
August 7, 2014

A financial power of attorney is a document by which an individual (the principal) designates an agent (the principal's attorney-in-fact) to manage the principal’s financial estate should the principal become incapacitated or otherwise unavailable. Traditionally, in order to grant authority to the attorney-in-fact, the power of attorney document was required to specifically list every power transferred by the document (i.e., to buy and sell real estate, file tax returns, access bank accounts, etc.). This is called a traditional or long form power of attorney. In an effort to simplify the traditional power of attorney document, the Minnesota Legislature created a statutory short form power of attorney in the early 1980’s.

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Standby Guardianships
October 30, 2013

In Minnesota, a standby guardian is an individual appointed by the parents of a minor child to take care of the child’s physical well-being upon a triggering event (such as death, sudden incapacity, or other emergency situations) in which the child’s parents are unable to do so. The standby guardian is appointed by a document executed by the parents prior to the triggering event and is effective with minimal Court approval. In some circumstances, the standby guardianship can continue for up to two years before a traditional guardian must be appointed. A standby guardianship is preferable to a traditional guardianship because it can commence much more quickly, and is not subject to Court supervision, making it much less costly.

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Health Care Directive
September 18, 2013

In Minnesota, a health care directive is a document that contains two parts: a traditional “living will” and a designation of a Health Care Agent. A “living will” is a legal document that allows you to make known your wishes regarding life-prolonging medical treatment and to authorize an individual, such as your spouse or child, to make medical decisions on your behalf, within the dictates stated in the document, in the event you are unable to do so. In addition to incorporating the traditional aspects of a living will, a health care directive allows you to appoint an authorized agent under HIPAA, the federal code which sets national security standards relating to protected health information.

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Financial Power of Attorney
August 12, 2013

A financial power of attorney, or “power of attorney”, is a legal document that appoints another individual, called your “attorney-in-fact”, to manage assets and other financial affairs. The power granted by the document takes effect immediately upon the date it is signed, and allows your attorney-in-fact to access, manage, liquidate, or transfer your assets on your behalf in the event that you are unavailable or unable to do so. The power granted to your attorney-in-fact is terminated immediately and automatically upon your death.

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The Probate Process: Minnesota
July 24, 2013

Probate is the process of transferring a decedent’s assets from the decedent’s estate to the decedent’s heirs or devisees. If a decedent died testate (with a validly executed Will), the decedent’s estate is transferred to the individuals or charities named by the decedent in the Will. If a decedent died intestate (without a Will), the recipients of the decedent’s estate are determined by the intestacy statutes of the state in which the decedent lived. Regardless of whether the decedent died testate or intestate, his or her estate must be probated in order to transfer the assets accordingly. The process of probating an estate can be divided into three periods:

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Probatable Assets & Types of Probate
July 1, 2013

Many people wish to avoid probate upon their deaths. Probate is the court process of transferring a decedent’s assets onto his or her heirs or devisees after the decedent’s death. Thus in order to determine if you estate will have to be probated after your death, you must determine if your estate contains any probatable assets. The table below show which types of assets are probatable and which are non-probatable. If, upon your death, your estate does not contain and probatable assets, no probate will be necessary.

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The Role of a Personal Representative
June 24, 2013

In Minnesota, the personal representative, sometimes referred to as an executor, is the individual appointed by the court to administer the estate of the decedent. It is the responsibility of the personal representative to give notice of his/her appointment, pay claims brought against and debts of the estate, and distribute the estate assets according to the decedent’s will or the applicable intestacy statutes. A personal representative appointed in either a formal or an informal proceeding has broad authority to administer the estate assets, including, generally, the power manage the assets in the manner the decedent could have done during his or her life.

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Minnesota Gift & Estate Tax Changes for 2013
June 13, 2013

As part of the tax law changes passed by the Minnesota legislature in May, the state of Minnesota will begin imposing a gift tax on all gifts completed by Minnesota residents on or after July 1, 2013.  Prior to the new legislation, Minnesota did not impose a tax on gifts of any amount.  However, the new law limits each individual to effectively shelter no more than $1,000,000.00 from the Minnesota gift tax over his or her lifetime and dictates a flat tax rate of ten percent (10%) on gifts exceeding the lifetime credit shelter amount.  The new gift tax law did not impact the $14,000.00 annual gift tax exclusion amount; accordingly, Minnesota residents may continue to gift up to $14,000.00 each to an unlimited amount of individuals on an annual basis without generating the need to file a gift tax return or pay a gift tax on the transfer.  If you intend to include a gifting strategy as part of your estate plan, you may want to consult with an attorney or other professional prior to July 1, 2013.

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Joint Tenancy vs. Tenants in Common
June 10, 2013

There are different ways to jointly own property, and the advantages and disadvantages of each can be confusing. Joint tenancy and tenants in common are two ways to jointly own property in Minnesota with very distinct differences.

Both joint tenancy and tenants in common describe a type of joint ownership over real property, and the deed should specify whether the real property is owned through joint tenancy or tenants in common. In Minnesota, any deed that does not clearly state which type of joint ownership the property is owned through is automatically recognized as tenants in common. While both allow for more than one individual to have an ownership interest in the property at hand, both are structured differently, and have different outcomes once one or more of the owners pass away.

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Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended to provide specific legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship may only be created by an explicit agreement with our firm.