Maumee Ohio Legal Blog

Steps to take to move from estate planning to legacy planning

If you've given any thought to estate planning, then your first thought may be with regard to how best to ensure that your immediate loved ones such as your spouse and your children can be financially protected upon your passing. For most individuals, this means drafting a simple will to ensure that assets can be passed down without having to go through the long, drawn-out, and sometimes costly probate process.

However, estate planning can be about so much more than simply leaving assets to your immediate loved ones. In fact, when done correctly, an estate plan can create a legacy that can provide financial stability to your family for decades to come. One of the keys to this type of planning is identifying legacy assets and how best to protect them. It's also important to ensure that a legacy estate is protected from estate taxes, which, considering the large exemption provided by the federal government, can be significant when imposed.

Forming a sole proprietorship: Benefits and drawbacks

Forming a business constitutes an exciting process. You believe in your idea, and you want to create an entity to sell your product or service. You do not have business partners, but you want to ensure that your business idea is legal and protected under Michigan and Ohio law.

A sole proprietorship gives you the ability to own and operate your business individually. No partnerships, corporations are involved, and you can control all business elements. Both advantages and disadvantages exist when forming a sole proprietorship, so it is important to weigh the responsibility and individual control of this type of entity.

Ohio city may be facing an eminent domain challenge

A few weeks ago on the blog we discussed the basics of eminent domain. This is a legal issue that many people don't think about until it directly affects them. Even the seemingly smallest bit of land taken by the government can have enormous ramifications, though, which is why those who are confronted with issues of eminent domain need to know the law and how to utilize it to their advantage.

Two property owners in Toledo may be in this position now. Reports indicate that the city is in the process of taking two parcels of land to create a roundabout. One of those parcels of land holds a vacant business, while another is an empty lot. An official with the city's Department of Public Utilities said that development of a pharmacy has already been approved for one of the parcels, and that the construction plans are compatible with the proposed roundabout.

Litigation and the discovery process

The vast majority of cases, whether dealing with family law, business law or some other type of civil complaint, resolve through some sort of settlement negotiation. This can occur on the parties' own terms, or it could occur through alternative dispute resolution means like mediation or arbitration. Despite the success of these methods, they are not successful in all cases. When negotiations fail and a case looks like it's going to trial, individuals need to make sure that they are ready to litigate as fully and aggressively as possible in order to protect their best interests.

Although courtroom skills are most frequently portrayed on television and in the movies, much of successful litigation is built through thorough preparation. This includes preparing witnesses and anticipating objections, but even these steps are preceded by discovery. Discovery is the process through which one side to a lawsuit obtains or "discovers" all pertinent information held by the other side.

The basics of trademarks and trademark infringement

Creating a business is a challenge. Maintaining that business and the good will it has developed over time is a whole other matter. Although this means building and utilizing business relationships through the proper use of contracts, as well as having adequate supply and demand to make one competitive in the market, it also means protecting intellectual property. This property, which includes copyrights, trademarks, and patents, can mean the difference between running a successful and profitable business and having one that is being taken advantage of by others.

This week we will take a brief look at trademarks. A trademark is any kind of mark, whether it be a work, logo, or slogan that distinguishes the source of a good from others. For example, the Nike swoosh is a trademarked logo. Those who see clothing with that logo know that they are receiving quality goods from a particular manufacturer. When cheaper manufacturers utilize that logo, they water down the meaning of Nike's brand. This is because clothing of a lesser quality is then attributed to Nike.

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.

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