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Blethen Attorney of the Month – Paul Shneider

Jan. 09, 2018

Paul Schneider Associate MankatoPaul Shneider recently became a partner at Blethen, Gage & Krause, PLLP.  Paul’s practice focuses on helping businessesnonprofit organizations, and individuals with their legal needs.

He advises closely held businesses on many issues, including: entity formation, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, dissolution, and day-to-day business issues.  As part of his practice, Paul helps businesses with succession planning and individuals with estate planning to transfer wealth and minimize disruption to the business.

Paul enjoys helping nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations with the unique challenges that arise from their nonprofit and tax-exempt status.  He counsels nonprofit organizations on entity formation and organizational structure, ongoing governance, and a variety of other issues.  He drafts organizational documents, policies, and applications for tax-exempt status.

His diverse real estate practice includes representation of clients in real estate transactions, easement issues, and development negotiations.  Paul also provides title examinations, title opinions, and title insurance.  He frequently works with homeowners’ associations and benefits from practical experience owning a condominium.

Get to know Paul and how he can help you!  He can be reached at 507-345-1166.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace- Be Prepared

Jan. 08, 2018

Sexual harassment in the workplace received a lot of attention in 2017.  As an employer:
  • Do you know what constitutes sexual or protected class harassment and how you need to respond to reports of inappropriate conduct?  
  • Do your employees know how to report concerns?  
  • Do your supervisors know how to recognize and respond to harassment in the workplace?  
There are several basic steps that every company, large or small, needs to take related to sexual or other protected class harassment in order to protect their employees and their business.
 
Blethen, Gage and Krause has over 30 years of experience providing training to employers regarding employment-related issues.
 
In terms of sexual and other protected class harassment, we provide the following imperative services in order to increase awareness and decrease the exposure employers have in this area of the law.
  • Review of employee handbooks to ensure comprehensive policies and procedures are documented and in compliance with the law.
  • In-house or off-site customized training regarding sexual or protected class harassment for your employees and/or supervisors. 
  • Conducting effective investigation of harassment claims.
If you haven’t updated your employee handbook or provided training regarding sexual or protected class harassment within the last two years, this is an excellent time to have your handbook reviewed and to provide training to your employees and supervisors  to protect your company from potential harassment claims.  
 
Contact Julia Ketcham Corbett, Beth Serrill, Kevin Velasquez, or Alyssa Nelson to discuss ways in which we can assist your business with its employment law needs.  They can be reached at 507-345-1166. 

Ben McAninch Obtains Defense Verdict

Jan. 05, 2018

Ben McAninch obtained a defense verdict in a motor vehicle accident case following a two-day jury trial in Waseca County. This case involved an auto vs. bicycle collision that, according to the plaintiff, resulted in a traumatic brain injury. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was driving too fast for the conditions and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. The defendant claimed that the accident was the fault of the plaintiff for failing to yield and for performing an improper turn on his bicycle. The parties tried only the issue of liability. The jury returned a verdict of 100% liability on the plaintiff.

Ben’s practice focuses on general civil litigation, insurance defense, agricultural litigation and probate litigation.  He can be reached at 507-345-1166.

 

Blethen Announces New Partners – Shneider & Literovich

Jan. 02, 2018

Blethen, Gage and Krause is pleased to announce our newest partners, Paul Shneider and Kimberly Literovich.

Paul Schneider Associate Mankato

          Paul R. Shneider

Paul’s practice focuses on helping businessesnonprofit organizations, and individuals with their legal needs.

He advises closely held businesses on many issues, including: entity formation, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, dissolution, and day-to-day business issues.  As part of his practice, Paul helps businesses with succession planning and individuals with estate planning to transfer wealth and minimize disruption to the business.

His diverse real estate practice includes representation of clients in real estate transactions, easement issues, and development negotiations.  Paul also provides title examinations, title opinions, and title insurance.  He frequently works with homeowners’ associations and benefits from practical experience owning a condominium.

BGK Law Mankato Associates

     Kimberly A. Literovich

Kimberly brings substantial experience with her to Blethen, Gage & Krause having served with the firm of Shermoen & Jaksa in International Falls for eight years in the areas of real estate, estate planning, probate, and small business.  

A large segment of Kim’s practice is devoted to drafting individually-tailored estate plans which benefit her clients and their families for years to come.  Whether it’s a simple will, power of attorney or health care directive, or a more complicated trust or cumbersome probate matter, Kim eagerly and efficiently serves her clients.  Kim’s familiarity and background in working with medical assistance planning has also proven to be a valuable asset to her clients.  She also provides experienced legal advice in the areas of title insurance, title searches, and real estate closings. 

We are proud of our new partners’ contributions and dedication to the firm and their clients!      

Both Paul and Kim can be reached at 507-345-1166 or by email at pshneider@blethenlaw.com or kliterovich@blethenlaw.com.

Kevin Velasquez – Attorney of the Month

Dec. 08, 2017

Kevin Velasquez has extensive experience litigating a wide range of civil matters in areas such as employment law, insurance disputes, estate and trust disputes, family law, construction disputes, auto accidents and general business disputes.kevin-a-velasquez

Kevin has represented clients in Minnesota District Courts, the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the Federal District Court in Minnesota, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture and in various forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Kevin also counsels employers on a variety of employment matters, including issues involving harassment, discrimination, wrongful discharge, sick and disability leave, wage and hour compliance, unemployment insurance, noncompetes and contract disputes.

Prior to joining the firm, Kevin worked for a financial services company servicing defined contribution pension plans. This position provided valuable background knowledge of various employee benefits, tax and investment issues.

Kevin is involved in numerous professional associations including the Minnesota State Bar Association (serving as Sixth District President in 2012), the Federal Bar Association, the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association, and the Greater Mankato Growth Young Professionals.   Kevin has volunteered time for both the Federal Bar Association Pro Se Project and Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services helping low-income individuals with their legal needs.  Additionally, Kevin has worked hard to give back to the region through his extensive involvement in community organizations such as the Mankato YWCA, the United Way, City Center Partnership, and the Mankato Diversity Council.

Contact Kevin at 507-345-1166 or at kevelasquez@blethenlaw.com!

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November Attorney of the Month – Silas Danielson

Nov. 09, 2017

silas-l-danielson,Silas Danielson focuses his practice in the areas of Business and Estate Planning. He is also a CPA which helps him to have a common sense approach to business and estate matters.  Silas represents a number of residential and commercial landlords, dealing with complex tenant issues. In addition, he has significant experience handling complex business matters and estate issues.  Prior to becoming a member of our team, Silas worked for a large Minneapolis CPA firm.  Silas believes in providing prompt, quality service to every client.

Silas earned is Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia College and his J.D. (with honors) from Hamline University Law School.  He is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Silas has spent significant time working with youth. He led a scholarship program offered at the local high schools and has coached high school and youth sports. Other community involvement includes membership in the Minnesota Multi Housing Association (MHA – Mankato chapter), serving on the MRCI Board, serving on the YMCA Board and acting as President of his church.  Silas also served as the chair of the CADA board.  Silas has taught several classes at Minnesota State University, Mankato including aviation and business law.

Silas and his wife Kristy have four children that keep them on the run.  They enjoy spending time with their kids, traveling, reading and spending time with friends.

 

Kelton Gage – A Beloved Partner & Friend

Oct. 24, 2017

Our hearts are heavy as we learned of the passing of Kelton (Kelly) Gage.

Kelly was admitted as a partner to the firm in 1955.  At that time, the firm name was Blethen, Ogle and Gage.  It wasn’t until 1975, when Arthur Ogle died, that the firm became Blethen, Gage and Krause, its current name.

Kelly retired as a partner in January 1991.  He continued to work for the firm as an attorney through December 2001, which marked the 50th anniversary of his bar admission.  While at the firm, Kelly was a general practitioner but tried many major litigation cases.  Kelly was noted for his extreme intelligence, his almost photographic memory, and his innate sense of fairness, all of which served him very well in his years of legal practice. Kelly continued to remain active in the legal arena by volunteering at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services.

Kelly believed in community.  He was a member of the Mankato School Board from 1957-1966 and the Minnesota State Colleges Board from 1960-1964.  He was also elected and served in the Minnesota Senate from 1966-1972.  He served as President of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He was a former president of the Minnesota Jaycees.  Up until the time of his death, Kelly was a member of the Downtown Kiwanis Club.  

Kelly and his wife, Dorothy, have been dear friends to all past and present employees and partners of Blethen, Gage and Krause.  Kelly was an outstanding leader and was a flagship of the firm. His excellence, guidance and contributions helped make the firm what it is today…..121 years strong.

 

Corbett & Serrill Speak at Employment Law Seminar

Oct. 04, 2017

Julia Ketcham Corbett and Beth Serrill presented at the SMAHRA Employment Law Seminar on September 28 regarding ‘The Lifecycle of a Workplace Investigation from both the Employee’s and the Employer’s Perspective’.  

Conducting an effective investigation will help avoid liability and/or limit damages by showing that the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassing behavior.  Below are some helpful reminders:

  • Have a clear and effective reporting policy in your handbook.
  • Train your supervisors.
  • Communicate with employees that your door is always open.
  • Follow your policies.
  • Start the investigation as soon as possible.
  • Effectively plan all steps of the investigation.
  • Communicate with all parties regarding the status of the investigation.
  • Document all aspects of the investigation.
  • Identify appropriate follow-up actions.

Sometimes an investigation can be handled internally.  Larger, full scale investigations may best be served through an attorney.  Blethen, Gage and Krause’s Employment Law Team is trained in the proper investigative techniques that can insulate an employer from liability for an adverse employment action.  Contact Julia Ketcham Corbett, Beth Serrill, Kevin Velasquez, or Alyssa Nelson to assist you with your employment law needs.  They can be reached at 507-345-1166.

TAX INCENTIVES FOR SALES/RENTALS TO BEGINNING FARMERS

Sep. 12, 2017

Written by Christopher Roe

Given the capital and land access issues faced by beginning farmers, it’s not surprising that the average age of the American farmer is approaching age 60.  To get a meaningful start in farming, beginning farmers must deal with numbers in the seven figures in terms of capital requirements and debt.  With these numbers, there is minimal room for error, and many times individuals who may desire to farm choose other opportunities, leaving the rural area in which they grew up.

To combat these issues, Minnesota has a new law that provides tax incentives to taxpayers who sell or rent farming assets such as agricultural land, buildings/facilities, machinery/equipment and livestock to beginning farmers.  This new law offers an opportunity for beginning farmers to develop new relationships to expand their operation.  Furthermore, it provides retiring farmers with no family successors an incentive to start a relationship with a beginning farmer.

Some details of the new Minnesota law:

  • For sales to beginning farmers, the taxpayer receives a tax credit off their Minnesota tax liability of 5% of the sale price up to a maximum of $32,000.00.
  • For rentals to beginning farmers, the taxpayer receives a tax credit off their Minnesota tax liability of 10% of the gross rental income in each of the first 3 years of the lease up to a maximum of $7,000 per year.
  • A beginning farmer is someone who has started farming in the last 10 years and cannot have a net worth greater than $800,000.00.
  • There are no tax credits available for sales/rentals between family members (parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, spouses, children and grandchildren).
  • If the amount of the credit exceeds Minnesota tax liability, the excess may be carried forward 15 years.
  • The Rural Finance Authority must certify the beginning farmer and tax credit. The beginning farmer must participate in a financial management program, the cost of which is subsidized through a tax credit to the beginning farmer.  The credit is capped, and it is on a first come, first served basis.  RFA is in the process of developing a Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Application.

For any questions on the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit or any agricultural law matters, please contact Christopher Roe at 507-345-1166 or croe@blethenlaw.com

 

September Attorney of the Month – Chris Roe

Sep. 07, 2017

Chris Roe has a diverse practice consisting of agricultural, estate/trust, business, and real estate clients.

A large part of Chris’ practice is devoted to assisting individuals and businesses in the agricultural setting. Chris is a farmer himself; he and his family operate Roe Farms a large crop/hog operation near LeRoy, MN.

Chris handles estate planning and estate administration matters including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives and probate matters. He concentrates mainly on large and complex estate and trust matters including estates or trusts that involve businesses or farm operations.

Chris acts as outside general counsel to many non-profit and for-profit business enterprises, emphasizing on business organization, employment, mergers, acquisitions, sales, contracting and governmental matters.

He is routinely involved in agricultural, commercial and residential real estate matters such as purchase agreements, title opinions, title insurance, and closings.

Contact Chris at 507-345-1166 or at croe@blethenlaw.com.