October 27th, 2010
Here’s a memo from the Minnesota Secretary of State reminding Minnesota employers that Minnesota law requires employers to allow employees time off to vote:
To: All Minnesota Employers
Re: Time off for Employees to Vote on Election Day
The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State reminds employers that employees are allowed time off to vote in upcoming elections. Minnesota Statutes 204C.04 allows employees to take time off for the time necessary to vote in a state election without a reduction in pay.
Please note that Minnesota Statutes 204C.08 Subd. 1b states that employees cannot be required to use personal leave or vacation time for the time off necessary to vote.
Since the law specifically states that an employer may not directly or indirectly refuse or interfere with an employee’s right to vote, employers cannot instruct employees of when during work hours employees are excused to go and vote. However, employers may request that employees provide notification as to when they will be gone and request that employees coordinate their absences so as to minimize adverse impact on the workplace. Any complaints should be filed with the county attorney. A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor.
The date for the General Election this year is Tuesday, November 2.
204C.04 EMPLOYEES; TIME OFF TO VOTE.
Subd. 1. Right to be absent. Every employee who is eligible to vote in an election has the right to be absent from work for the time necessary to appear at the employee’s polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work on the day of that election, without penalty or deduction from salary or wages because of the absence. An employer or other person may not directly or indirectly refuse, abridge, or interfere with this right or any other election right of an employee.
Subd. 2. Elections covered. For purposes of this section, “election” means a regularly scheduled state primary or general election, an election to fill a vacancy in the office of United State senator or United States representative, or an election to fill a vacancy in the office of state senator or state representative.
Subd. 3. Penalty. A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and the county attorney shall prosecute the violation.
Encouraging employees to vote is an excellent way to promote civic engagement and our democracy. I thank you in advance for helping to make sure that every eligible Minnesotan wishing to vote is able to cast a ballot.
Secretary of State
October 4th, 2010
Few people realize that, even though they may have a modest estate, their families may owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes because they own a life insurance policy with a substantial death benefit. This is so because life insurance proceeds, while not subject to federal income tax, are considered part of your taxable estate and are subject to federal estate tax. (Even though the estate tax has been repealed, the repeal is effective only for 2010. The estate tax is scheduled to return in 2011, and may even return before then if Congress reinstates the tax retroactively.)
The solution to this problem is to create an irrevocable life insurance trust that will own the policy and receive the policy proceeds on your death. A properly drafted life insurance trust keeps the insurance proceeds from being taxed in your estate as well as in the estate of your surviving spouse. It also protects the trust beneficiaries from their own “excesses”, against their creditors, and in the event of divorce. Moreover, the trust also provides reliable management for the trust assets. Here’s how the irrevocable life insurance trust works.
You create an irrevocable life insurance trust to be the owner and beneficiary of one or more life insurance policies on your life. You contribute cash to the trust to be used by the trustee to make premium payments on the life insurance policies. If the trust is properly drafted, the contributions you make to the trust for premium payments will qualify for the annual gift tax exclusion, so you won’t have to pay gift tax on the contributions.
The life insurance trust typically provides that, during your lifetime, principal and income, in the trustee’s discretion, may be paid or applied to or for the benefit of your spouse and descendants. This allows indirect access to the cash surrender value of the life insurance policies owned by the trust, and permits the trust to be terminated if desired despite its being irrevocable. On your death, the trust continues for the benefit of your spouse during his or her lifetime. Your spouse is given certain beneficial interests in the trust, such as the right to income, limited invasion rights, and eligibility to receive principal. On the death of your spouse, the trust assets are paid outright to, or held in further trust for the benefit of, your descendants.
If you own a life insurance policy with a significant death benefit, an irrevocable life insurance trust may be of substantial benefit to you.