Maumee Ohio Legal Blog

Stan Lee's estate may be under attack

The idea behind estate planning is that, through careful consideration, individuals can create legal documents that dictate how their assets will be distributed upon their death. This can be of the utmost importance to those who don't want their assets to pass in accordance with applicable laws. Therefore, if an individual wants his or her real estate to pass to a grandchild, then that provision needs to be included in an estate planning document if he or she does not want a spouse or child to receive it.

Of course, the validity of these estate planning documents is contingent upon a number of factors. One of the most important characteristic is that estate planning documents must be created by an individual who is of sound mind. And, even those who do so with full competency can later find themselves being taken advantage of when they lose their ability to make sound decisions on their own.

2 ways to contest a will

When you first saw the will of your deceased loved one, you were taken aback by what you saw. It may be that unequal shares were left to beneficiaries, something you’re almost certain they wouldn’t do. Property that they promised you would inherit was instead left to one of your siblings and they took your place as an executor. It may also be the case that the document includes questionable language you don’t believe is in accordance with the law.

Luckily, you do have options to correct the inconsistencies. Here are two ways to contest a will in court.

The basics of eminent domain

Ohio residents who buy property expect to be able to use that land as they see fit. There can be limits to this use, though, such as when one becomes part of a homeowner's association. However, even in these circumstances an individual retains ownership of his or her property. Sometimes, though, the government can swoop in and take one's property either with the owner's permission or without it. The government's power to exercise this taking for the furtherance of public good is known as eminent domain.

Although the government has the right to take a private citizen's land, it can only do so for public use and after paying "just compensation." These limits are prescribed by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be avoided. The process of eminent domain usually starts with the government approaching the landowner with an offer. If the offer is accepted, then the property is transferred and the matter comes to an end. Oftentimes, though, disagreements arise as to what constitutes "public use" and "just compensation." This typically leads to court involvement in one of two ways.

What basic types of trusts could one include in an estate plan?

To many Ohioans, estate planning is a difficult topic to broach. One reason is because many individuals are afraid to confront their own mortality. Another common reason for procrastination is a fundamental misunderstanding of estate planning. We hope to make the topic easier to think about and increase your understanding of estate planning, so you can feel comfortable developing an estate plan that meets your and your family's needs.

This week we will generally look at trusts. These legal vehicles, which can either supplement or replace a will, allow an individual to transfer title to certain assets to a trustee who will then manage those assets for the benefit of another individual, known as the beneficiary. There are a number of different trust types, but they generally fall into one of two broad categories: testamentary trusts and living trusts.

Litigation and appeals: the importance of objections

Although many legal disputes in Ohio end with settlement prior to going to trial, some cases will ultimately require litigation. This is often the case when the parties are confrontational toward each other, as well as when the stakes are high for each side. Preparation prior to litigation is key to building a strong case. However, even after discovery is conducted, witnesses are subpoenaed and testimony is prepared, the actual act of litigating requires skill. How one party litigates can have a tremendous impact on the outcome, even if the initial trial is lost.

This is why it is important to appropriately and timely make and respond to objections. One reason this is important is because it can either limit the scope of the opponent's evidence, or it can expand your ability to get testimony and documents admitted into evidence. For example, hearsay, although generally not allowed, will be heard by a judge and jury unless it is objected to. Therefore, when one side successfully raises a hearsay objection, it disallows the other side from getting that testimony into evidence. On the flip side, successfully rebutting a hearsay objection will allow that evidence to be admitted.

Estate planning: the will and its benefits

Many people in Ohio know they need an estate plan, but do not know where to start. Those who are unfamiliar with the process can find estate planning overwhelming. There are often numerous legal documents involved, and major decisions regarding health care and to whom assets should be left need to be made. For many, this causes them to simply procrastinate, putting off the whole process until a later time. Unfortunately, far too many individuals never get around to creating an estate plan, which can cost their loved one's a significant amount of time, money, and heartache.

That is why it is advisable to start estate planning early and revisit it often. One simple step to take that can help one ease into the estate planning process is to create a will. A will essentially spells out who will receive an individual's property upon his or her death. Although these documents can be extremely complicated, they can also be very simple in nature. The complexity depends upon how, exactly, an individual wants to leave his or her estate.

How litigation can fix a breach of contract

Virtually every company in the Toledo area relies on contracts to do business. Contracts require all the parties involved to make promises and trust the other parties to live up to their own promises. When one of the parties violates that trust, that could lead to a lawsuit for breach of contract.

Not every small business that pursues breach of contract litigation has the same expectations, and there are options under the law. Specifically, there are three types of remedies to which a successful plaintiff may be entitled:

What can you do if you’re threatened with eminent domain?

For most homeowners, it’s a nightmare scenario. After working hard to buy your home, diligently making your mortgage payments and tailoring the space to your needs and comforts, it’s suddenly taken away from you by the government via eminent domain.

It’s the right of the government to obtain private property and then repurpose it for public use, but per the Fifth Amendment, in the invocation of eminent domain the owner must receive “just compensation.” While some form of payment is constitutionally yours, you also have the option to seek more compensation, or to fight it altogether. Opposing eminent domain can be difficult, but in the face of such an occasion, there are options available to you.

New film depicts famous eminent domain case

In perhaps the most important change to U.S. eminent domain law in decades, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London that government power to seize private property extended to transferring that land to another private party for economic reasons. Before this, the Constitution’s eminent domain power was limited to cases of more obviously public use, such as for roads or public utilities.

You may have read about the case at the time, but if you aren’t an eminent domain attorney, you probably don’t know much about the details of this landmark case. A new film based on Kelo called Little Pink House that recently hit theaters in the Toledo area may provide a good overview.

Remedies for breach of contract

Contracts make the business world function effectively. When utilized properly, these documents can spell out expectations amongst parties to an agreement, which may include business entities and consumers in Ohio. Although the purpose of a contract is to try to provide clarity and thereby avoid conflict, quite frequently the terms of a contract are not adhered to, whether this means a payment for goods is not made, an agreed upon service is not rendered or performance of the contract is made inadequately. When this happens, the contract has been breached.

In the event of a breach of contract, the affected party has four options. The first is to do nothing and simply take the loss. This is not advisable, as it may damage a business's reputation and bottom line. It may also work against it in future litigation regarding similar issues. The second option is to file a lawsuit seeking damages. This is the most commonly pursued remedy. Most often, the affected party merely seeks compensation to be placed in the same financial position it was in prior to the breach. However, an amount of liquidated damages can be spelled out in the contract, which would replace the need for a calculation of compensatory damages.

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