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Dayton, Ohio Probate and Business Law Blog

Ohio law supports estate planning for business owners

Ohio business owners can benefit from establishing estate planning provisions for the protection of their families, partners and employees. In the personal context, a business owner will benefit from setting up some basic estate planning instruments that are suited to all individuals. The most well-known of these is the person's last will and testament.

The will appoints a personal representative (executor) to carry out the dictates of the maker (testator). It contains provisions for disposition of the testator's assets after death. A will is equally if not more important for a business owner because it may set forth the testator's specific instructions for the business. Without a will, the assets may be distributed according to the state's intestate laws, which may conflict with the individual business owner's needs and wishes.

Business law provides a secure backdrop for new startup

Ohio has its fair share of entrepreneurs and business creators who have started or want to start a new business law enterprise. According to accomplished startup entrepreneurs, the first 90 days is the time to establish a solid foundation for the business, including the business law structure. During that time, they recommend a number of ideas for building that foundation and for nurturing the experimental entrepreneurial spirit.

It is perhaps surprising to know that the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics, which follows the activities of new enterprises, has concluded that those who perform more startup activities faster are more likely to enjoy profits. The speed at which a startup launches is a heavy influence in its future profitability. An exploratory approach to most subjects is the initial perspective for the startup.

The executor administers the decedent's probate estate

Acting as the executor or personal representative to someone's estate in Ohio is not an easy task that is quickly discharged. The probate of an estate may take many months before all the loose ends are wrapped up and the estate can be successfully concluded. A person can be appointed in a will to be the decedent's executor or, where the decedent had no will, the person stepping forth will likely be a next of kin who, in the face of no opposition, will be appointed by the court to perform the job.

All estates are similar in some respects, and the duties of the executor follow a generally recognized pattern. The executor must find and preserve the assets of the estate. This includes all property owned in the decedent's name at the time of death. If there is a home, the executor will see to it that the property is protected and the bills are paid until the property is disposed of under law or according to the will.  With no will, the usual course will be to appraise and sell the real estate through auction or a private broker.

What do you owe kids and grandkids in your estate?

When it comes to planning your estate, most people want to ensure that their kids and grandkids are provided for after they pass. Leaving assets to your family can help them maintain financial security, and if you are passing along heirlooms, it can preserve memories in the family, too. Sometimes, however, you might wonder how much—if anything—you are obligated to leave to your family members.

There are a few things you should take into consideration when you are drafting your trust or will. Regardless of your motivation, there are several valid reasons you may elect not to include your kids or grandkids, but you should keep the following in mind if this is the route you choose to take: 

Estate planning provides the power of choice to the maker

Having an estate plan is more of a necessity than a luxury item just for rich people. Everyone will benefit from having estate planning instruments in place that will be effective both during life and at death. The governing instrument at death in Ohio and all other states is usually the decedent's last will and testament.  

The will includes the testator's wishes for the distribution of his or her assets after death. It may contain testamentary trusts wherein an appointed trustee holds assets in trust for minors and others. The will specifies when and how the trustee shall distribute the assets. The will may also contain specific bequests, such as giving a home or other real estate directly to a named recipient. In addition, it may have a residuary clause that divides up the general residuary funds to the testator's children or others, usually in equal shares.

Business law attorneys facilitate mergers and acquisitions

Ohio and other states are hosts to business acquisition transactions on a regular basis. Publicly-traded and privately-owned companies are involved in purchasing other enterprises as well as merging with them. When publicly traded securities are involved, the government will scrutinize the transaction for irregularities and anti-trust aspects. Business law attorneys are an integral mainstay of these transactions, contributing their experience to help further a smooth and successful transition for all concerned.

Buying, selling and merging of hotel interests is a common phenomenon. Recently, Choice Hotels International announced it will buy Woodspring Suites for $231 million. Choice will thereby receive the added component of 240 more properties located in 35 states. The purchase will strengthen Choice's extended-stay capabilities. Woodspring has been growing its numbers of extended stay properties in the past two years, and scheduled an additional 45 hotels for opening in 2018.

Ownership of prior joint funds decided in probate litigation case

Ohio law establishes a probate court in each county; these courts are responsible for processing the estates of deceased persons. When a dispute arises between heirs of the estate, the probate court may be required to preside over a probate litigation matter. A wide spectrum of disputes can come up in the probate courts of this state and nationwide.

One state's supreme court recently decided an issue that is germane to Ohio law and is instructive as to how a similar matter would likely be handled here. An elderly couple had a joint checking account titled in both names with the right of survivorship. Only one of the owners was required, however, to make withdrawals.

Estate planning review can be convenient this time of year

Ohio residents may use the end of the year period to review their estate plan. Alternatively, they may use this time to get one started. For those who have already engaged in some degree of estate planning, it is a good time to review one's beneficiaries. This may include persons that have received gifts in the person's will, and it may include the beneficiaries that are listed on insurance policies or on retirement or investment accounts.

If anyone has died in recent years or if there has been a divorce, go through all documents to make sure that the beneficiaries have been changed and are up to date. For example, on a life insurance policy, if the listed beneficiary has died first and there is no replacement, the proceeds will go into the probate estate. It is preferred, however, that the proceeds be disposed of by direct payment to the beneficiary outside of the estate.

Properly contesting a will in Ohio

Individuals use a will to distribute their estate after their passing. However, when other parties corrupt those wishes, a will contest may be necessary.

If parties utilize a will contest properly, it is an effective means of righting a grievous wrong. There are a few key facts that people should know about the process in Ohio.

Review and update estate planning documents every 5 years

There are many seniors in Ohio who have estate plans that have not been reviewed in many years. The problem arises, however, that a plan that has not been reviewed for 10 or 20 years or more may be woefully out-of-date. The personal representative of the will may need to be changed and other testamentary appointments may be unavailable or deceased after that long of a period. Estate planning is an ongoing process. 

In addition, new beneficiaries may have been born and others may have died or fallen out of favor with the testator. Divorces may have occurred that may change the whole dynamics of the plan. It is recommended that existing documents be reviewed at least every five years, and also whenever a change occurs that may require revisions in some of the documents.

  • Ohio State Bar Association | Connect.Advance.Succeed
  • Federal Bar Association | ORG Jan 5th 1920
  • Dayton Bar Association 1883
  • Super Lawyers
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