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Medina Legal Issues Blog

Tips for creating an estate plan

Ideally, Ohio residents will begin the process of estate planning as soon as possible. An estate is made up of anything that a person owns either jointly or on his or her own. By creating an estate plan while in good health, it may make it easier to obviate the need for a conservatorship or guardianship. Anyone 18 or older may benefit from starting the estate plan process.

Wills and trusts are common components of an estate plan. They provide instructions as to how assets should be handled after a person dies. If a person doesn't have a will, state intestacy laws may come into play. This could result in assets being given to unintended beneficiaries. In some cases, property could be given to the state if there are no surviving family members. Only those who don't own significant property or who want to give assets to their children may be able to get by without a will or trust.

3 benefits of having an employee handbook

You may have done everything right during the hiring process: reviewed resumes, checked references, interviewed thoroughly and so on. You put together a fabulous team for your business. Yet now you face some problems with your employees, whether it be harassment among co-workers, continual tardiness or repetitive errors in certain tasks.

What went wrong? The answer may be people showing their true colors, not receiving sufficient training or going through personal problems. However, another one you may have overlooked is the employee handbook. This manual can outline everything from the company background to employee expectations and disciplinary actions. Writing up your policies and procedures and requiring your employees to read and sign them from the start has the potential to yield benefits, such as these three. 

How tax laws may change estate planning

People in Ohio who created their estate plans with the intention of avoiding estate tax might want to take another look at that plan. At the end of 2017, Congress passed a tax bill that raised the estate tax to more than $22 million for married couples and more than $11 million for individuals. This means that for some people, the best plan might simply be to leave assets to the surviving spouse. However, there still might be reasons that people whose estates fall under the exemption amount might want to use a bypass trust or other tools.

If a person wishes to have other beneficiaries or has a blended family, a bypass trust can help ensure these other beneficiaries or the person's children still receive assets. A trust might also be used to protect assets from creditors. There is no portability associated with the generation-skipping transfer tax exemption, so each person in a couple might want to create a dynasty trust using the individual GST exemption.

Acquiring funding for startups is easier than ever

Plenty of working professionals, whether in Ohio or Silicon Valley, dream of having their own startup and the autonomy that comes with it. Although they feel inspired when they hear stories of small startups that later grew on to be thriving businesses, such as Facebook, Google and Tesla, they are also very aware of how integral gaining funding is for the success of their business.

Fortunately, startup funding is expected to be accessible to a very large degree this year, according to several entrepreneurs, and it was the case last year as well. Interestingly, despite the emergence of new ways to acquire funding, particularly through initial coin offerings by startups within the blockchain area, the most popular method still remains through venture capital firms, which are expected to doll out several investments and make life easier for entrepreneurs, both working and aspiring.

What beneficiaries should know about their inheritances

There are many reasons people may opt not to discuss their assets with individuals to whom they plan to gift them too when they die. However, Ohio parents who plan to leave an inheritance for their children may want to make sure that the beneficiaries are prepared to receive it and are able to make the important decisions that may come with it.

People who are to inherit the proceeds of an IRA should be aware that any funds they receive will be taxed. They do have an option to allow the funds to remain in the IRA for a period of time while receiving the required minimum distributions that are calculated based on how long they are expected to live. They may also decide to pursue the other option of liquidating the account with the next five years to receive a lump sum payment, but they should be prepared for a considerable tax hit.

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.

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