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Maumee Ohio Legal Blog

Can you fight against the government taking your land?

You received a letter in the mail that the government wants to purchase a portion of your property. Presently, you have your lawn landscaped nicely, and the portion they want would devalue your property in Ohio and ruin the work you'd put in.

You want to avoid them taking the land, but you're not sure if you have the right. What should you do?

Eminent domain: What is just compensation?

The U.S. Constitution allows for the governmental taking of private property for public use, but only after "just compensation" is paid. This is known as eminent domain. This process may seem wholly unfair, and in some instances that is the case. However, eminent domain can be challenged in a number of ways. One way is to question whether private property is truly being taken for public use. Another commonly contested matter is what constitutes "just compensation."

The process of determining just compensation can be enormously complicated. While the goal of just compensation is to leave a property owner in the same financial position he or she would have been in if the taking never occurred, valuing a property and its depreciation due to government action can be challenging. To determine what constitutes just compensation, the parties involved typically try to calculate the fair market value of the land in question.

What is a nondisclosure agreement and its enforceability?

It can take a lot of time, money and effort to build a successful business. A lot of that work goes into the development of unique strategies and processes that allow the business to operate efficiently and effectively, all while building a strong clientele, marketing strategy and brand of compelling products and services. Because these strategies and processes are so valuable, businesses often want to keep them a secret. These are known as trade secrets. As simple as it may sound, it can be extremely challenging to keep these secrets away from competitors who are looking to gain an edge in the marketplace.

One reason it is challenging to maintain trade secrets is the fact that employees will become exposed to them. With time, employees leave a business and, due to their experience in the field, sometimes get hired by competitors. This is where secrets can be released. Fortunately, businesses can attempt to prevent these secrets from getting out by having employees agree to a nondisclosure agreement. Through these agreements, an individual can be sued for financial compensation if they disclose any of the information identified in the nondisclosure agreement. Although these agreements are frequently used to protect trade secrets, they can also be utilized to protect discussions of business plans and inventions as well as the specifics of intellectual property.

Estate planning and the ancillary probate process

The carrying out of an estate plan can be shrouded in grief. Family members of a deceased individual are often struggling to find a way to cope with their loss, which oftentimes brings families together. Yet, when the details of an estate plan come to light, family members sometimes find themselves in a state of confusion and disbelief. To these individuals, the terms of an estate plan are counter to their expectations and their beliefs of what the testator wanted for the estate. These situations often lead to litigation.

Take, for example, the recently filed claim by two daughters of Pat Bowlen, the late owner of the Denver Broncos football team. They claim that the trust executed by Bowlen, which controls the team and its significant others, should be invalidated due to Bowlen lacking the mental capacity to know and appreciate what he was signing when he created the trust. Their attorney also claims that Bowlen may have been subjected to undue influence at the time of the trust's creation.

Estate planning and the ancillary probate process

To many Ohioans, estate planning is nothing more than creating a simple will that equally divides their assets amongst their children. Although this is a commonly utilized estate planning strategy, it may be insufficient to meet an individual's needs. Failing to adequately address all legal issues pertaining to one's estate can lead to a long, drawn out and even contested distribution process.

This is often seen when individuals neglect to consider the assets that they own in another state when creating or modifying their estate plan. Because assets are subjected to the laws of the state in which they reside, an individual who passes away with assets in multiple states will have to proceed with the probate process in each state. This is known as ancillary probate, and it can be costly and time consuming. Additionally, those individuals who die without a will may wind up with differing lines of succession in each state because the laws may vary. This may mean that an individual's out of state assets may fall into the hands of someone who was never intended to inherit in the first place.

Understanding eminent domain law

When we own property such as land, we will likely have an assumption that no one can legally take this property away from us. This is a reasonable assumption, but it does not always hold true. Under certain circumstances, the government is entitled to take property from private owners.

The power of the government to take property from private owners is known as eminent domain. There are specific laws in place that govern the eminent domain process. Most notably, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlines a "Takings Clause" which demands that the federal government provides just compensation to those who have their private property taken for private use. The following is an outline of the limits of eminent domain property seizure, and an overview of the rights of private owners.

Litigation and hearsay exceptions

There are many trial rules and rules of evidence that must be adhered to in order to successfully litigate a case. Those who fail to abide by these rules can see their evidence given less weight, their evidence excluded or even their claims dismissed.

Those who are about to engage in litigation need to ensure that they have a full understanding of these rules and how to use them to their advantage. For many Ohioans, this often means seeking the assistance of a skilled litigation professional.

Business litigation: be prepared for wage and hour claims

There are a lot of ways in which a business can find itself embroiled in litigation. Unfair and deceptive trade practices, product liability and breach of contract disputes are common. While these legal actions can threaten the financial well-being of a business, as well as its reputation and good will, consumers and employees can also be negatively impacted when a business fails to act in accordance with the law. This is why all parties to a business dispute should make sure that their interests are aggressively protected throughout the legal process.

This may be especially true when wage and hour claims arise. These types of legal actions often come to light when a business is accused of underpaying or misclassifying employees, thereby unfairly taking advantage of them. Many of biggest corporations have faced lawsuits dealing with unpaid overtime and misclassification of employees as subcontractors, but the truth of the matter is that these lawsuits are often quickly settled with very little harm caused to the business in question.

Steps to take if threatened with eminent domain

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives federal, state and local governments the right to take private property for public use by providing the owner with “just compensation” for their property. Fighting eminent domain proceedings is challenging, but homeowners still have rights.

Property owners can argue that the taking of their land is not in the best interests of the public or that the compensation they are offered does not meet the “fair market value” promised under Ohio law.

A living trust in an estate plan may avoid ancillary probate

Effective estate planning requires a certain amount of thoroughness and understanding of the law. Only by being diligent and holistic in your approach can you ensure that your estate will be distributed exactly how you want it to be. Those in Ohio who try to cut corners to save time and money during the estate planning and administration process may have their assets pass into the wrong hands, thereby failing to provide for their loved ones as they wished.

Mistakes are often made during the estate planning process that can be disastrous. One commonly seen issue pertains to ancillary probate. Ancillary probate laws pertaining to the inheritance of property when a person has real estate in two different states at the time of their death. Therefore, an Ohio resident who has a home in Ohio and, say, a home in Florida may have his or her estate subject to the probate process in both states. This second probate is called ancillary probate.

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