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Medina Legal Issues Blog

Estate planning to avoid family conflict

When people in Ohio decide to plan for the future, they may be concerned about how their decisions can affect family relationships years into the future. While people may have heard stories or seen the experience of a family feud over an estate in their own lives, they may want to avoid this problem when seeking to provide for their loved ones. However, even people with good intentions can inadvertently make decisions that lead to ongoing family conflicts. However, people can also take action to reduce the risk of conflict and make a positive outcome more likely.

One of the most important steps in writing a will is naming the executor. The executor is responsible for guiding the estate through probate court, and it is important to choose someone who is reliable, trustworthy and responsible. Sometimes disputes begin when a person thinks the executor is stealing funds. In other cases, the problems start when the executor fails to follow up on responsibilities or even answer emails or phone calls. Serving as an executor is a skilled job, so it's important to choose someone with the right outlook.

Estate planning for entrepreneurs

For Ohio small business owners, making a will and drawing up an estate plan can be especially important. The issue has been drawn into sharp relief by the death of several legendary musicians with substantial and valuable music catalogs, all of whom died without a will. Aretha Franklin and Prince died without estate plans in place, despite having estates worth approximately $300 million and $80 million, respectively. Other music icons like Tupac Shakur, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix also died without a will. The consequences can be significant, especially if an estate is large, is complex or includes a privately owned business.

When a person dies without a will, his or her estate is distributed according to state law. There are some outlier cases that emphasize how important estate planning is: for example, people who have separated but not formally divorced from a spouse. Under state law and without any documents to the contrary, that legal spouse will inherit all or at least half of the estate. However, it can be important even when people have positive relationships with their spouses and children.

Estate planning updates are needed upon spousal death

When a spouse passes away, whether in Ohio or elsewhere, the initial legal concerns appropriately lie with administration of the estate for the recently deceased. It is often forgotten, however, that the surviving spouse typically needs an estate planning checkup as well due to the changed circumstances. A grieving spouse may simply not place priority on wills, trusts and other estate planning essentials, but doing so can circumvent a lot of confusion and hassle for future heirs if properly addressed.

In addition to considering potentially revised heirs and assets to be inherited, some essential documents should be updated that could come into play before death. Couples often execute estate plans together and make each other the designated power of attorney and healthcare proxy in the event of medical emergency. If the designated person has passed, or it leaves an absence regarding a secondary choice, prudence mandates revisiting these documents. Likewise, it is important to execute proper health and medical record release forms to document the potential need for a healthcare proxy or other eventuality.

Simple tips to keep in mind regarding contract negotiation

If you are in the process of launching your new business, you may have to negotiate one or two contracts; perhaps with a partner, a supplier or an ad agency. It could be that this is a part of your business with which you have had little experience. Here are five tips to help you negotiate successfully:

1. Start with terms

Estate planning also important for young people

Some Ohio millennials may think that making out a will and other estate planning documents are not important, especially until later in life. In fact, 78 percent of millennial Americans have no will or other estate documents. In general, people don't like to think about death, and young people in particular simply may not see it as important. However, the consequences of dying without a will can be significant, especially for a person's loved ones.

If someone dies without a will, his or her belongings will be distributed according to state law on intestacy. People who are young, single and have no children are most likely to see their assets pass to their parents if they die intestate. While many people in this category may be happy to leave behind their goods to their parents, a will can speed along the process and prevent unnecessary disputes and lengthy processes.

Common mistakes made by startups that are seeking funding

For Ohio startup companies, finding venture capital may be important so that the businesses can grow. A common issue that many startups have is trying to figure out how to attract investors. There are a few common reasons that venture capitalists and angel investors frequently pass on pitches that they receive.

A common mistake that startups make is sending cold pitches that are impersonal. If people send emails that are impersonal, they are unlikely to attract the attention or interest of a venture capitalist. People should take the time that they need to personalize their pitches. For example, they might want to get to know another founder that was funded by the investor to try to secure an introduction.

The consequences of not having an estate plan

Ideally, an Ohio resident will have all the necessary estate planning documents in order before they pass awat. Without an estate plan, there can be a lot of uncertainty as to what happens to a person's assets. It can also lead to family infighting, which may result in court battles that take years to resolve. Those battles are funded by money or other assets inside of the estate. The more money paid in attorney fees, the less that goes to heirs.

Interestingly, Frank Sinatra included a clause in his will that disqualified anyone who contested its terms. An estate plan is worth creating regardless of how much money a person has when he or she dies. Those who have an estate plan should review it every few years to ensure that it still meets their needs. Life events such as a birth, marriage or death can also be good times to check over estate plan documents.

Small business succession plans

According to a recent survey of 200 privately owned businesses, 58 percent of small business owners have no succession plans. These individuals have no strategies in place for how ownership should be transferred if unforeseen incidents should occur. While some small business owners in Ohio may not want to think about giving up their companies, it pays to be prepared.

Seventy-eight percent of the small business owners in the study attributed their failure to plan for succession at least partly to enjoying managing so much that they have no desire to begin thinking about any transitions. Forty-two percent of the owners stated that they had no time to plan, and 44 percent believed that there was no need to begin planning for something that would not occur until well in the future.

For parents, estate planning can be critical

Estate planning can be particularly important for parents in Ohio. When people have children, they may be more inspired than ever to deal with thinking about the future and making important decisions about how their children will be supported in case of the death or incapacity of the parents. In addition to the peace of mind that parents may feel, estate planning carries strong practical benefits as well, especially for future beneficiaries. People can reduce or eliminate probate fees and delays and lessen the estate tax burden borne by their children in the future.

While many may be concerned about cost, estate planning is more accessible than some realize. Depending on the size and scope of the estate, making out key documents like wills and powers of attorney can be highly affordable, and the existence of a plan can save a significant amount of money in the long term. For parents, this is especially important. A will can lay out plans for guardianship of the kids in case of the death of both parents in order to provide guidance to the court. In addition, trusts can be created in order to transfer wealth to minor children over the years.

What to include in your partnership agreement

If you are launching your own business and you wish to make it a partnership, creating a partnership agreement may be among your preliminary tasks. Partnerships can help your business thrive under the leadership of more than one knowledgeable, qualified person, but they can also create unnecessary troubles and lead to potential legal hardship if you do not set clear guidelines from the outset.

Because partnerships involve having more than one person in charge, it is important that your partnership agreement clearly stipulate everyone’s specific duties, responsibilities and stake in the company. The more detailed and thorough your partnership agreement is, the lower your chances are of having to litigate any business disputes that may arise down the line. So, when crafting your partnership agreement, make it a point to include the following:

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