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Medina Legal Issues Blog

Accounting for bitcoin in an estate plan

Bitcoins are a virtual currency that some Ohio residents may have heard of. Those who own this currency control it through a virtual private key. If the owner doesn't disclose where this key is, the assets could effectively be lost forever. The same is true if there are no instructions for how to use the key to access the coins.

This is similar to not having a key to open a safety deposit box. However, a bank would eventually clear it out to save space, which means someone may eventually get what is inside of it. Conversely, the value of bitcoin is largely based on the fact that there is a limited supply of it. Therefore, if coins are lost, the others still in circulation become more valuable. To ensure that bitcoins are not lost when a person dies, the owner should take steps to educate potential beneficiaries about how to access them.

Why tax changes should prompt an estate plan review

Changes in tax law may present an opportune time for Ohio residents to meet with an adviser to review their estate plans. Even if people don't think that the tax law changes will mean anything to their estate plan, it is still worth going over it anyway. In some cases, individuals may find that their plan no longer meets their needs for reasons other than adjustments to the tax code.

One of the most important things to understand about the estate tax laws going forward is that the exemption has increased. For married couples, the combined federal exemption will be $22.4 million in 2018. This means that only the wealthiest families will have to pay any sort of estate tax. During a conversation with an estate planning professional, it may be a good idea to review plan documents.

Choosing a business structure that limits personal liability

If you are looking to create your own small business, it is important that you learn to recognize the various ways in which your customers, clients or what have you may be able to hold you liable. Virtually every type of small business has at least some degree of risk, and this holds true even if you do not plan to open a business where risks are clear, such as a construction entity or food service company.

Depending on the type of business formation type you ultimately create, people who sue your business for some reason or another may be able to come after your personal assets. There are, however, certain business formation types that offer some level of personal protection if someone files a lawsuit against your company.

Avoiding common real estate investment mistakes

Real estate investments in Ohio and around the country have generally performed well in recent years, but the market can be unforgiving when individuals make hasty decisions and fail to perform adequate due diligence. Individuals who are considering a portfolio of multifamily units or commercial properties can avoid costly mistakes by understanding the complexity of these transactions and learning from the experiences of those who have succeeded and failed in this area.

One of the most common commercial real estate investment mistakes is purchasing properties without first studying the local rental market and considering factors such as its replacement cost and growth potential. A multifamily unit in a thriving community where apartments are scarce may seem like a sound investment, but the numbers could look very different if developers are in the process of seizing the opportunity and large amounts of new construction are planned. Major infrastructure projects could also cast a new light on these types of investments.

Talent, networking and sales essential for new business success

Entrepreneurs in Ohio understand that they will need to work hard to transform their ideas into commercial successes. Long hours alone, however, will not suffice to help someone break out in a competitive environment. Entrepreneurs need to gather effective team members, network with other business people and develop winning sales pitches.

Although talent can be hard to find and retain, the effort will reward a new business owner. Business people should look beyond technical capabilities when hiring people. They need to find people enthusiastic about the business idea and willing to work hard to reach goals.

How tax reform could impact commercial real estate investments

The passage of tax reform isn't expected to have a huge impact on the commercial side of the real estate sector. However, now that it's clear what tax guidelines will be in place going forward, Ohio investors will be able to formulate a game plan to deal with potential tax issues related to their investments. Tax reform clarification may also ease the hesitation some investors had about proceeding with plans to diversify or enhance a portfolio that includes commercial properties.

Changes to how real estate depreciation, mortgage deductions and carried interest will be handled are minimal since existing rules will largely remain intact. As far as commercial real estate assets go, the elimination of the individual mandate could minimize the need for healthcare providers to add more office space to accommodate increased patient loads since it's predicted that fewer individuals will be insured. Repeal of the personal mandate may also affect demand for senior housing, though these possible trends aren't expected to be significantly impactful.

Turning assets into a legacy

Some Ohio residents who are creating an estate plan might just think of it in terms of leaving assets for family members. However, estate planning can be approached as legacy planning, and the ideas that underpin this are old ones. One 15th century play involves a character who learns he can only take knowledge and good deeds with him after death. These are essentially what a person leaves behind for family and friends.

Essentially, knowledge and good deeds are what a person believes and has accomplished. Preserving this legacy means putting it in some kind of form that can be passed down to loved ones. This might be a body of artistic work, or it might be a company or a trust.

Issues to consider before signing a commercial lease

Getting your new business off the ground can be an exciting yet challenging endeavor. Finding the right premises is an essential part of this process. However, before you sign off on your new lease, there are a few matters you should think about.

Ohio landlord-tenant law treats commercial and residential tenants very differently. In addition to potential issues with the lease itself, you may need to deal with other legal and practical considerations.

How to deal with digital assets in an estate plan

As one of the states that have adopted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, Revised (RUFADAA), Ohio offers protections for fiduciaries that allow them to access a dead person's digital assets. In the past, a fiduciary had access to a person's financial and personal documents after that person's death, but the issue of digital access is more complicated.

Depending on the situation, it may be illegal for a fiduciary to access a digital account. In some cases, it is against a site's terms of service even if the owner has given the fiduciary the password information. The RUFADAA clarifies several legal points. If the owner has used the site's online tools to designate the fiduciary to manage the account, this gives the fiduciary access. If the owner does not take this option or the option does not exist, the owner can put instructions in a trust, will or another document.

The benefits of a charitable trust

When going through the estate planning process, Ohio residents often consider charitable giving. The concept is beneficial for several reasons. First, it is a morally benevolent thing to do. In addition, for those with larger estates, the charitable deduction can help descendants save on estate taxes. For those considering charitable giving as a part of their plan, a charitable trust may be a wise option.

Most trusts place property in the hands of a trustee, who is then given the responsibility of distributing the property pursuant to the trust terms. In a regular trust, a specific beneficiary will be named. A specific remainderman will also be named in the event the beneficiary passes away before the trust ends.

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