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Maumee Ohio Legal Blog

Can the government take your land?

What happens if you’re approached by the government about selling your property so they can build on it? It’s understandable if you would feel intimidated. The process of the government acquiring private land for public use is known as eminent domain and has been around for over 100 years in Ohio.

A recent example

Litigation and the expert witness

Although the ultimate decisions that are made by judges and juries are based on facts, those facts are open to interpretation. Lay witnesses, meaning those who possess no additional knowledge than the average person, can testify to their personal knowledge and observations, but their testimony regarding their opinion is limited in scope. This is why it is often helpful to have expert testimony when dealing with complex issues. The testimony of these individuals can carry great weight and make the difference between winning and losing a case.

One of the greatest benefits of an expert witness is that he or she can provide opinion-based testimony even if it is based on evidence that is not otherwise admissible. Therefore, a witness who is qualified as an expert can base his or her opinion on hearsay, for example. This can open up the evidentiary gates and allow a powerful opinion to be presented even if other evidentiary issues exist. These experts can sometimes provide testimony that directly speaks to the legal issue at hand.

Watch out for things that can invalidate a will

A thorough and effective estate plan may encompass one or more of a number of legal documents. Wills, trusts and powers of attorney can all play a pivotal role in the protection of an estate's value and the distribution of its assets. Although a well thought out estate plan can be ironclad, even seemingly minor errors can have tremendously large ramifications. This is why it is often wise to have the assistance of a skilled estate planning attorney when dealing with these matters.

For example, an improperly executed will may be deemed invalid. This can leave the distribution of estate assets subject to state laws, which may be contradictory to an individual's wishes. It can also set the stage for family contention and litigation that is drawn-out and costly. An attorney will know the common pitfalls related to the drafting and execution of a will, though, and how to avoid them.

Can a verbal offer constitute an enforceable contract?

One of the most common documents used in business dealings are business contracts. These are important documents that spell out a lot of details. Unfortunately, a lot of business litigation centers on contract disputes. Breach of contract claims are quite common, but the frequency with which these matters are alleged doesn't reduce their significance. A breached contract can cause harm to all parties involved.

On the one hand, a party may not receive the materials, compensation, or service that it bargained for. The other party may suffer financial loss, harm to its reputation and damage a business relationship when it fails to live up to its end of an agreement.

The importance of the record on appeal

Losing a case is never easy, especially when significant financial and emotional resources are on the line. Those who lose at trial often feel like the extensive amount of time they put into the case was for naught, which leaves them angry and frustrated. Yet, losing a case at the trail court level is not the end of the road. This is because those who lose a lawsuit have a legal right to appeal the decision made by the trial court or a jury at the trial court level. However, it is important to note that an appeal is not another bite at the apple. Instead, an appeal allows a party to have the trial reevaluated to ensure that a fair outcome is reached.

How is this accomplished? It begins by reviewing the transcript of the trial. Everything said during the trial is recorded, and every exhibit admitted into evidence is forwarded to the court of appeals. Therefore, litigants need to be careful and detailed in everything that they say in court. Objections must be made in a timely fashion, and responses to those objections need to hold up to appellate scrutiny. Those who don't make a good record at trial can find themselves at a severe disadvantage on appeal.

Questions linger over Luke Perry's estate plan

Most people have heard by now that famed television and film actor Luke Perry recently passed away after suffering a stroke that left him on life support. While his loved ones are now celebrating his life and mourning his loss, they may also be turning to his estate plan to determine how his assets will be distributed. This is no small task, considering his estate is estimated to be worth $10 million.

Perry apparently created a will in 2015 that left everything to his children. There's also a significant possibility that he utilized some type of trust, or multiple trusts, in order to avoid the lengthy and sometimes costly probate process. One important issue that still needs to be seen, though, is how his fiancé was accounted for in his estate plan, if at all. If Perry neglected to update his estate planning documents to dictate which assets should be left to her, then she probably won't get anything. This situation shows just how important it can be to revisit your estate plan, especially after major life events.

Panera bread pursuing legal action for breach of non-compete

Successful contract negotiation takes a lot of foresight. The terms of these agreements can have long-term consequences that can define business relationship for years or even decades. But while thoroughly negotiating and carefully drafting the terms of a contract is important, equally crucial is the enforcement of those terms. After all, a party that doesn't take action in the event of a breached contract is left with no recourse. This means that it will essentially be taken advantage of without punishment for the financial harm it is causing to the other party.

To see just how important the policing of contract terms can be, just look at recent legal action taken by Panera Bread and three of its former employees. According to the legal action, which was just released for being filed in the improper venue, the employees breached non-compete agreements when they were offered jobs by a company headed up by former Panera CEO Ron Shaich.

What happens when you are left out of a will?

No matter how old you are or how close you are to your loved ones, they will likely make some decisions with which you do not agree. Although, as you get older, some of those choices might seem to make more sense.

To a certain extent, it may be natural to expect others to see the world similarly to the way you do. However, it is not healthy to expect someone you care about to try to live according to how you would want them to. That might include how they establish their will.

Don't forget digital assets when estate planning

Life requires us to do many things, as it encompasses much. Estate planning can touch on many parts of an individual's life. It can dictate who will make important financial and health care decisions in the event of an individual's incapacitation, and it, of course, can layout how assets will be distributed upon death. Those assets typically include a family home, bank accounts, retirement accounts and family heirlooms. Yet, as our world becomes more and more digitized, Ohio residents should ensure they don't neglect their digital assets when engaging in estate planning.

Cryptocurrency is one of the biggest and most important parts of a digital estate. This form of currency is becoming increasingly popular, but its value can oscillate significantly over time. For this reason alone, cryptocurrency owners need to make sure to not only be clear in their estate plan about their ownership of cryptocurrency, but also about how it should be distributed and when and how it can be used.

Perrysburg may exercise eminent domain for utility relocation

Land is amongst some people's most prized possessions. For some, it carries tremendous value that is either sentimental or financial in nature. In the best cases, it holds both types of value. Many Ohio residents plan to hold onto their land to pass on to future generations, while others are holding out for the right market to sell and make a significant profit. This seems like how the system should work, but the government can step in, and through the use of eminent domain, they can derail a landowner's rights.

Three Perrysburg residents may be facing this situation very soon. Reports indicate that the city may utilize eminent domain to buy land that it deems is necessary to create right of ways for utility relocation purposes. The city's council approved the offering of purchasing three properties by a five to one vote, with the potential for use of eminent domain. The latest reports state that the landowners have not been in agreement with the city's proposed plan.

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