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Medina Legal Issues Blog

How to get a copy of a deceased person's will

When a parent dies in Ohio, a child could be entitled to a portion of the deceased's estate. This is true even if the parent dies intestate, or without a will. If a house or other property was put into a child's name, that generally belongs to the child regardless of claims others make to it.

If an estate holder does have a will, anyone who was named as a beneficiary is entitled to see a copy of it. Beneficiaries are notified of the passing and the presence of a will by the estate's personal representative. Those who are not notified can still find out if a will was filed by asking the county court. After filing a petition, a person will be notified regardless of whether or not other family members are trying to conceal its presence.

The probate process and asset distribution

Many people in Ohio thinking about the steps needed to care appropriately for their family and their assets after death may wonder what exactly happens during the probate process. Supervised by a court, probate allows a last will and testament to be officially authenticated where one exists; when there is no will, probate can also deal with the distribution of assets according to state law. The process is not limited to the will: It can also include valuing all of the deceased person's assets, paying off bills and taxes and then distributing the assets that remain.

Every state provides different rules for probate, and during the estate planning process, people should be aware of their own state's requirements. Each state has a set of laws that manage the way that assets are distributed if a person dies without a will. Although probate is handled by state law, in practice, these are similar from one state to another and provide a series of potential heirs in order of preference.

Protecting trade secrets with nondisclosure agreements

As someone who operates your own small business, chances are, you have ideas, blueprints, recipes, product designs or other elements relating to business operations that you do not want falling into the wrong hands. Maybe you have a secret formula you use to produce a particular product or an exclusive list of contacts you use to conduct business, or perhaps you own a restaurant and feel it necessary to protect your time-tested secret recipes.

In many cases, these elements constitute “trade secrets,” which are often formulas, practices, processes or methods that you use to make your business stand apart from its competitors. If the wrong person or entity gains access to your trade secrets, it can cost you considerably, but one measure you can take to help protect them is by having your employees sign nondisclosure agreements.

Creating an estate planning checklist

Ohio residents can use a thorough checklist to ensure that their estate plans are organized and include all of the documents they need. This will be helpful for surviving loved ones who may have to handle the estate.

A will is an important part of an estate plan. Wills can be used to specify where a person's assets will go after he or she passes away. People can also use a will to designate an executor. This individual will be responsible for the distribution process and ensuring that any taxes or debts owed by the estate are paid.

Trusts can be altered to reflect changing circumstances

Trusts can serve a valuable purpose for people in Ohio who want to manage their estates in order to avoid probate and preserve the maximum value of their beneficiaries' inheritances. However, over time, the intentions and desires of the creator of a trust can change. When this happens, individuals may be unsure if it is possible to make a change to their trust documents and how they can ensure that it is properly recorded.

The majority of trusts used for estate planning purposes are revocable and amendable, which means that they can be cancelled or changed at the will of their creator. Some trusts are exceptions, and people can work with their estate lawyers to handle questions that arise with other types of trusts. Just because the trust can be changed, however, does not mean that no specific process needs to be followed in order to do so. However, in order to ensure that a trust creator's intent is preserved, he or she should execute a formal amendment to the trust in order to make an alteration. A trust amendment can be attached to the additional trust, which will contain an affirmation of the power to amend the trust, explain the changes that are being made and conclude by declaring the validity of the remaining trust provisions.

Estate planning documents require regular review

Many people in Ohio want to think about estate planning all at once and then set those documents aside for the future. Going over one's estate plan can be practically and emotionally difficult for many people. However, in order to ensure that one's assets are protected and loved ones properly taken care of, it can be important to perform a regular review of the documents, including wills, trusts and non-probate items, that comprise a person's estate plan.

Every estate plan should contain a will, an advanced medical directive and a financial power of attorney; in order to ensure that these are accurate and reflect the latest changes in law as well as significant life events, it is important to review these estate planning essentials with a lawyer every 10 years or after major events like marriage, divorce or the birth of a child or grandchild. Many people may not realize that they need to update these documents to add additional beneficiaries or remove beneficiaries from past relationships; taking care of this can avoid unpleasant surprises for loved ones after death.

Getting an SBA loan

Many entrepreneurs in Ohio run small businesses. In some cases, an owner might realize that he or she is going to need more capital to grow a business. While there are a variety of financial options that can work for this purpose, one of the most coveted is the Small Business Association loan.

The SBA is a department of the federal government. It encourages business development throughout the country and provides entrepreneurs with a variety of tools that can be used to begin and grow a business. One of these tools is the SBA loan, which business owners can use for any legitimate business purpose. These loans are partially guaranteed by the government and offer attractive interest rates.

What to cover in your Ohio partnership agreement

Many small businesses in Ohio operate as partnerships with varying degrees of formality. In fact, if you operate a business with another person and do not formally establish it as a corporation or a limited liability partnership, the law may by default treat your company as a general partnership.

The law does not obligate you to write up a partnership agreement in order to run your business. However, a well-written agreement can help your business operate smoother and avoid many types of common disputes that tend to come up among partners.

Reasons to use a trust to leave assets to adult children

It is not uncommon for people to create trusts to protect assets for their minor children, but they might not think about doing the same for their adult children. However, there are a number of reasons that Ohio parents who are creating an estate plan might want to consider a trust for assets left to adult children as well.

Not everyone is ready to handle a significant inheritance or manage complicated assets. This may be because of irresponsibility or a lack of knowledge, but in either situation, the person may also be unable to accurately evaluate the competence of a financial adviser. A trust can ensure that assets are managed and distributions are made according to the settlor's instructions. For example, a person might get an annual distribution based on income generated by the trust, or distributions might happen periodically as a person reaches certain ages.

Use more than just a will for estate planning

Having an estate plan that consists of just a will is one mistake Ohio residents should avoid. There are multiple documents that should be in place to ensure that medical decisions made on people's behalf if they become incapacitated are in accordance with their wishes and that their assets are protected and managed well after they die. Typical legal documents that are part of a complete estate plan can include advanced health directives and powers of attorney in addition to a will.

If these documents have not been included in their estate plans, people who become unexpectedly incapacitated and unable to make decisions on their own may be at the mercy of individuals who would not have been their ideal choice to see to their interests. It can also result in steps being taken regarding their health that may be against their wishes.

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