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North Canton, Ohio legal blog

How do wills and estates affect adopted children?

If you have adopted a child or are an adoptee, what happens when either adoptive or birth parents die under Ohio law? Do laws differ either with or without a will? Do adoptees have a right to a birth parent's inheritance, or a right to their adopted parents' inheritance?

Per the federal Child Welfare Information Gateway, in normal circumstances an adopted child has no right to their birth parent's inheritance upon death. The act of adoption severs all legal relationship between the birth parents and adoptee. This statute stands as default in the event of an intestate death with no valid will, or a valid will that does not name the adoptee in the will.

Does state law overrule city law in oil and gas zoning?

As a land owner in Ohio, you may be well aware of oil and gas companies seeking the rights to drill on or near your land. City zoning ordinances in your particular area may prevent these companies from obtaining the necessary zoning rights, but often city and state laws regarding zoning for drilling are different - and can even conflict each other. Can differences in city and state zoning rights put your property or adjacent property at risk from drilling companies?

Unfortunately, yes, there is a risk risk. The Ohio State Supreme Court ruled that in cases where state and city law conflict regarding zoning ordinances for oil and gas drilling, state law takes precedence in the interests of maintaining a uniform regulation on a statewide basis. The ruling determined that no city government has the right to overturn any regulations or provisions made at the state level to permit oil and gas drilling, production or other related activities.

Can you challenge your parent's will?

One of the most common questions asked by clients of probate litigation attorneys is if they are able to contest a will. It's a good question to ask, as simply being dissatisfied with the provisions in a will is insufficient grounds for contesting its validity.

Then, too, not all people have the legal standing to mount a will challenge. It can be a complex matter to challenge someone's will, but first you must be on solid legal ground to even consider such a proposal.

Do you pay taxes on inherited property?

Now that it is tax season, residents in Ohio who received an inheritance last year may be wondering if they are responsible for any taxes related to the property. The good news is beneficiaries are not responsible for any taxes on items they receive as part of an estate. However, if property was sold, the sellers may have to pay taxes.

According to FindLaw, to determine whether or not taxes are owed, the basis needs to be calculated. For property that is not inherited, the basis typically is the cost the seller originally paid for the property. Beneficiaries often benefit in that the basis for inherited property is the fair market value of the asset on the day of the descendant's death. In many situations this means the tax liability will be lower than for normal property sales.

What is breach of fiduciary duty?

If you and your Ohio-based business have entered into a partnership, joint venture or agreement with another business only for that business to fail to uphold their ethical responsibility to you as the beneficiary of the agreement, this may constitute a breach of fiduciary duty. But what exactly is a breach of fiduciary duty, and how does it involve you?

The Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School defines fiduciary duty as an ethical matter in which a fiduciary - often an agent, trustee, or corporation - owes a duty to a beneficiary. When that duty is not fulfilled, the fiduciary may be held accountable for a breach of their fiduciary duty, particularly if they stood to profit from it and subsequently deprived profits from beneficiaries such as you. This can include a partner with controlling interest in a joint venture defrauding their partner of returns on an investment, or can include corporate executives using inside knowledge of business and economic matters impacting their company in order to further their own private interests without the knowledge of trustees and director expecting them to act in good faith for the company.

Privacy compliance in the healthcare field

Although regulations have been in place for awhile, healthcare providers in Ohio should brush up on compliance laws on a regular basis. This is especially important for those practitioners looking to open their own office, as the penalties for not observing the guidelines can be stiff.

According to the AAPC, healthcare compliance refers to laws and regulations that ensure medical facilities are:

  • Charging appropriately for services rendered
  • Protecting the health and personal information of their patients
  • Regularly auditing their practice's compliance 
  • Providing and following safety procedures in the workplace

Trusts and responsible distribution

Ohio residents who want to properly manage their money and other assets may find a trust is the way to go. Not only is it a method to protect the owner and their assets after death or in the case of mental incapacity, but the owner can also direct how the assets are distributed in a responsible manner.

One of the biggest advantages to having a trust is it outlines how the estate's assets should be distributed after death. According to the American Bar Association, a living trust allows the owner to make changes to, or even revoke, the trust throughout their lifetime. This is beneficial in that if there are concerns about how an heir will manage their inheritance, the owner can modify the trust to limit how the property is distributed.

What is foreign qualification?

Business owners in Ohio who want to expand their company into another state may need to go through a process called foreign qualification. The term may be confusing as it seems to refer to doing business in another country, but this is not the case. 

According to Entrepreneur, a foreign qualification notifies the state one will be working in about their intentions. The business owner needs to fill out paperwork through the secretary of state's office, and the company needs to be in good standing such as current with business filings and taxes. One of the benefits of applying for a foreign qualification is it simplifies the administrative work that accompanies running a business. By registering the company in the new state, the owner continues to only have one corporation as opposed to different corporations in each state. This means holding only one annual meeting and having one board of directors and bylaws.

Creating noncompete agreements that protect your business

Human resources are a key component to the success of any business. In many situations, in fact, staff control some of the most important information. For businesses that have significant trade secrets known by or accessible to staff, noncompete agreements are a critical form of protection.

After all, these contracts may be the only thing that prevent someone from infiltrating your business, getting ahold of your client list and then moving on to a higher-paid position with one of your competitors. Ohio courts will often uphold noncompete agreements, provided that they meet certain legal criteria.

Trusts and estate planning

With a new year around the corner, people in Ohio may be focused on getting their finances in order. Along with making sure their will is up to date, some may be thinking of setting up a trust. As a way of preserving and passing on wealth, a trust can be beneficial in certain situations. When setting up a trust, the owner needs to decide whether it is revocable or irrevocable.

According to US News, both types of trusts contain assets such as money and property, but a revocable trust can be changed or revoked by the owner while an irrevocable trust cannot. While the owner of a revocable trust has more control, this type of trust has fewer potential advantages than an irrevocable one. It is, however, a more popular choice, as an irrevocable trust tends to only be beneficial for the wealthy. A revocable trust helps people manage their assets while they are living and ensure they will be administered responsibly when the owner can no longer manage their own finances, either upon death or due to diminished mental capacity. 

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