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Baker, Dublikar, Beck,
Wiley & Mathews

North Canton, Ohio legal blog

Does an oil and gas lease automatically mean drilling?

Has an oil or gas company come knocking at your door? There are all kinds of valuable mineral sources under the ground, and oil and gas companies are always looking for sources on private lands -- particularly in shale-rich Ohio where lots of rich mineral deposits are found. For a lot of people who aren't otherwise using their land, an oil or gas lease can be a welcome source of income.

Signing a lease, however, doesn't necessarily mean that you're about to start collecting some significant checks. In fact, you could be disappointed if you expect any kind of immediate action with the well because a lease doesn't guarantee any kind of drilling.

How to talk to your employees about a merger

Mergers and acquisitions happen in business all the time -- and are often a sign of growth. But, any kind of merger or acquisition involving a business tends to feel inherently unstable to the employees involved.

If you want your company's merger to go as smoothly as possible, you need to be prepared for the following emotional reactions from your crew:

Talk to your teen about safe driving techniques

Teens are learning how to drive, and that can mean that mistakes are made. Ohio has rules and laws to prevent teens from driving with too many passengers or driving while impaired, but that doesn't mean that those situations don't happen.

Unfortunately, since teens tend to hang out in similar places and around their schools, it's possible that they could be involved in car crashes with friends or other teens and their families.

Investors are lining up for your business: Now what?

You've got the dream and the vision to make your business happen. You've got a solid business plan and plenty of experience in your field. Now, you just need an investor.

When someone comes along who is willing to throw money into your company's coffers and support your plans, you can and should celebrate. Just don't forget to pause, take a deep breath and make sure that this is the right investor for you.

What are primary differences between S and C corporations?

If you have a business concept in mind and you're considering incorporating your business around it, then you're probably keenly aware that there isn't just one type of corporate structure that you can choose from. There are instead many different ones. Each has its inherent pros and cons associated with it. If you've considered setting up either an "S" or a "C" corporation, then you probably should first know the difference between the two before you move forward it incorporating your business as one of them.

One of the clearest differences between an "S" and a "C" corporation is how each is taxed.

Oil wells are still producing, despite decline in demand

When you agreed to let the oil or gas company lease your land a few years ago, the demand for oil and other natural minerals was going strong. Now, there's been a huge drop in demand and production is falling accordingly. Will the well on your property suddenly stop production and your royalty checks dry up?

Maybe. It's true that there's currently an "oil glut," with barrels of the stuff piling up so much that the crude prices of U.S. oil even went negative for a bit. However, production hasn't stopped. In fact, it may take a while before the oil company manages to get the well on your field "shut in." The company may not actually be in any hurry to do so.

Common mistakes with noncompete agreements

A good noncompete agreement isn't out to limit a former employee's prospects in life or penalize a company's prior owner. Noncompete agreements are designed to protect legitimate business interests in an increasingly competitive world. That makes it especially important that you avoid sabotaging yourself when dealing with them.

Here are some of the top mistakes people make when noncompete agreements are involved:

  1. Assuming that noncompete agreements can't be enforced. Overly broad noncompete agreements caused a bit of a backlash and brought about new restrictions, but the majority of states still allow them (and enforce them, as long as they are reasonable and comply with the law).
  2. Thinking that a new employee's noncompete agreement with a former employer is their issue to handle. Buy into that fallacy and you can end up dealing with costly litigation, including accusations of tortious interference with another company's business or something similar (among other problems).
  3. Thinking that a noncompete agreement designed in one state is valid in another. Noncompete agreements have to be tailored for each situation and jurisdiction. If you're engaged in multistate operations, you cannot use a "boilerplate" noncompete agreement with any real expectation of success.
  4. Not having legal counsel review any noncompete agreements that may affect your operations or business in some way. This includes restrictive covenants held over prospective employees, noncompete agreements that you want your current employees to sign and any restrictive covenants you use with vendors.

Things nobody warned you about as an executor

Being the executor of someone's estate feels like an honor, so you naturally accepted -- but you had no idea about the trouble that you were about to face.

Most people have no idea what to expect when they're serving as someone's executor. They typically anticipate some paperwork and a few meetings with an attorney, but they generally assume that the whole process will go along rather orderly. They aren't prepared for:

  • Co-executors: Sometimes, a decedent will name more than one executor. The goal is usually to avoid problems, such as when someone names their two adult children co-executors. Unfortunately, sharing the job can mean twice the work. Both people have to be in agreement on everything and sign off on every piece of paper, and that can drag out the process.
  • Unhappy heirs: When people stand to inherit a considerable sum or set of assets, they can get impatient. They may worry that something important will be lost or taken by someone else. They may also just object to how the estate is being handled or demand that you distribute the assets before you're ready.
  • Personal liabilities: If something goes very wrong with an estate, did you know that you can be sued by the heirs? You can also incur personal liability for not handling the decedent's taxes, assets or debts properly.

Lowball insurance settlements are a form of bad faith insurance

Insurance companies, like other businesses, want to turn a profit by providing services to the public. Typically speaking, insurance companies make a profit off of policyholders who don't have to file significant claims and can take financial losses if they have to pay out substantial claims for massive property damage or permanent injury caused by a policyholder.

Both federal and state laws regulate how insurance companies respond to claims brought by either policyholders or those injured by a policyholder in a motor vehicle collision. Insurance companies have an obligation to reasonably compensate those with valid claims and to abide by the terms of the policy contract between them and their customers.

What's an oil and gas lease shut-in clause?

"Shut-in" clauses are a source of confusion for many property owners who agree to an oil and gas leak.

On its surface, a shut-in clause probably doesn't sound like a bad idea. It requires the oil and gas company to pay you a small royalty each month -- even if the well isn't currently operated or producing -- in order to avoid forfeiting its lease. The royalty is a substitute for active profits from production.

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