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April 2018 Archives

Shared Parenting In Ohio

Shared parenting is preferred among many family law advocates as being beneficial for children and parents alike.

HOW MUCH DOES A DIVORCE COST IN OHIO?

I have handled at least 2,000 divorce related matters in my career, and one of the first things that my clients want to know is how much their divorce is going to cost them. I always answer their questions in a similar fashion because asking about the total cost of a divorce is like asking how much it will cost to raise children, or how much it will cost to buy and maintain a house. There is no set answer to these questions because many different things can affect the total cost.

FEDERAL JUDGE RULES OHIO MUST RECOGNIZE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE FROM MARYLAND

In July, an Ohio couple traveled to Maryland to get married. It was not a fancy wedding; in fact, the ceremony took place on a plane on the tarmac of a Baltimore airport. By the time the two were married, they had been together for over 20 years. One spouse has a terminal illness and does not want to be listed as single on his death certificate. In addition, the two want to be buried in the same family plot, which is only available for direct descendants and spouses. Because the couple is a same-sex couple, they are not able to get married in their home state of Ohio.

"SUZE ORMAN" ONLINE WILL FORM - BEWARE.

Not too long ago I was presented with a Last Will and Testament prepared by a recently deceased woman, by herself, from an online source. The form allegedly came from a "Suze Orman" website. Well, there are problems. I suspect the individual presumed it was a reputable site and the forms could be trusted. Bad presumption.

NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR ALIMONY MODIFICATION IN OHIO

The Ohio Revised Code sets out the factors that the courts consider when awarding alimony in a divorce case. These considerations include income, earning ability, age, length of marriage, standard of living and the parties' education. This list gives a person an idea of what the court is going to look at, in general, to determine what is a reasonable amount of alimony. Unfortunately, the Code is not so clear on what happens when a person's circumstances change after the award is entered.

WILL MEDICAID TAKE MY HOME?

In Ohio, and many other states, when it comes to nursing home issues the quick answer is no, they will not take your home. Contrary to what you have heard Medicaid does not take your home or anything else. All Medicaid does is determine whether it will pay for nursing home care or not. If your assets exceed the guidelines they will not pay. If your assets are lower than the guidelines they will pay. If you do not qualify for Medicaid you simply need to make arrangements to directly pay the nursing home from your individual assets.

TRUSTEES CANNOT ALWAYS BE TRUSTED.

There is an old expression that you do not give a Power of Attorney to someone unless you would also trust them with a loaded gun. The same goes for the Trustee of a trust.

AVOID PROBATE COURT?

There are many people, and attorneys, who think avoiding probate court is a good idea. This is most often accomplished through a living, or inter vivos, trust. It is true that sometimes avoiding probate court can be less expensive, quicker and simpler, but sometimes probate court can save all your assets. When a trust is established to avoid probate court a trustee is named in the event of death. People will name a trustee whom they trust. When asked if a bond should be required most clients answer no. A bond is essentially an insurance policy that protects the trust against financial misconduct or stolen money. They say I would not name him/her trustee if I did not trust them. Upon death, the trustee then takes complete control of the assets without any supervision from anyone. Unsupervised trusts can go on for many years. All people have weaknesses, some are not always trustworthy and, others can feel the effects of their own economic pressures. I have been involved in many cases where trustees, those who have complete control of the money, fall prey either to greed, bad financial times, or just are bad at money management. Many times the trustee may "just take a loan" from the trust but loans are not authorized transactions and seldom get repaid. By the time anyone realizes something is wrong, the money is gone and very often it cannot be recovered.

DECISIONS MADE DURING A DIVORCE COULD CAUSE PROBLEMS AT TAX TIME

The first tax return filed after separating from a spouse or finalizing a divorce may come as a surprise. For some ex-spouses it might be the first tax refund in years. Others may owe more than expected. Considering the tax consequences in a high-asset divorce is important.

CAN I GET PAID AS A CAREGIVER FOR MY PARENTS?

This question comes up in many estates and often causes ill will and litigation. The normal scenario is a parent who may be feeble or ill. One child provides the primary care. It may just be in the form of running errands, transporting to doctor visits and daily checks. It might also escalate to living with the parent and providing full time care. This can go on for months or years. Eventually the parent dies and a dispute arises between the siblings. This can also arise if the care provider is an extended relative or friend. You might even have a situation where someone quits their job to provide the full time care and/or provides all the cost for shelter and food for the parent.

IS IT ILLEGAL TO WARM UP MY CAR ON MY DRIVEWAY?

According to Ohio law, it is illegal to start your car, even on your own on your driveway, then go back in the house, to warm up and defrost the car when it is cold outside. Any car when running must be "attended". Even if it is locked you could be cited, pay up to $150 fine plus court costs (usually about $125). Frankly, it might even apply to a car in your garage with the door open. It absolutely applies to cars on the street.

A QUICK LOOK AT DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS IN OHIO

There are so many different kinds of license suspensions it would probably take an accountant weeks to calculate them. There are suspensions for moving violations, OVI suspensions, Financial Responsibility Act (FRA) suspensions, insurance suspensions, Administrative License suspensions (ALS), 12 point suspensions, medical suspensions, drug abuse suspensions, reinstatement fee suspensions, failure to pay child support, driving under suspension suspensions, etc. In fact, you can wind up with several suspensions all out of the same traffic violation. If a person is not careful it is easy to mistakenly believe that a suspension is over, but, still be under suspension.

OHIO NEW UNIFORM POWER OF ATTORNEY

Ohio has a new Power of Attorney statute and form that went into effect March 22, 2012. The law is found at ORC 1337.21 et seq. This new "uniform" act was meant to simplify Powers of Attorney and eliminate all the different forms created over the years. It certainly has simplified the form and will eliminate all the different variations of these documents. The problem is that it may create problems. Ohio's Power of Attorney form is a bit too simple and too vague.

FINANCIAL ISSUES ARE COMMON AFTER A DIVORCE

Nearly every divorce will result in both parties experiencing a difference in their financial situation. When a household splits into two, each spouse can suffer the loss of the other's support in income. The situation can be especially difficult if one spouse had stayed at home to raise children. It's for this reason that spousal support still exists, although many states have been making changes to their alimony laws to prevent one ex-spouse from paying alimony for life.

FERGUSON - GRAND JURY AND OTHER THOUGHTS

A prosecutor has great influence over a grand jury and can direct them where the prosecutor wants to take them. The prosecutor controls who becomes a witness and which pieces of evidence the grand jury sees. First keep in mind that most prosecutors do not like to lose cases in trial. Too many losses can cost a prosecutor his/her position. So the starting point for a prosecutor is analyzing the strength of any given case. If a prosecutor believes it is a good case, or they really want a person indicted, only the evidence of guilt will be brought to the grand jury. If the prosecutor believes it is a weak case, and it will be lost at trial, even if the grand jury indicts, the prosecutor will let the grand jury hear all the evidence which weakens the case and "guide" them to no indictment.

ESTATE PLANNING FOR SUBSEQUENT AND LATE-IN-LIFE MARRIAGES

When you are about to get married the last thing you think about is estate planning. However, for a second or late-in-life marriage, it is the first thing you should think about. This is especially true when there are children or other family members you need to protect. All too often attorneys in domestic relations cases and probate attorneys see the end result of poor planning. Classically what happens is a substantial part of someone's assets go to the second spouse, either through a death or divorce, rather than their own children. Highlighted below are areas of law that can be used to protect family and close friends in the estate process. Note that this article is based on Ohio law. If you do not live in Ohio please contact an attorney in your state.

DRONE IN YOUR BACK YARD?

Currently Ohio has virtually no regulation at all regarding the operation of drones, none.

HOW DIVORCE AFFECTS A CHILD'S BEHAVIOR AND WELL-BEING

As everyone knows, the childhood years are formative and every experience will have an impact on how children grow up and deal with the world. It's therefore unsurprising when studies show that children with divorced parents can end up with long-lasting emotional pain that may affect their choices and experiences as adults. While children of divorceusually go through a great deal of pain during the initial divorce process, there are things that parents can do to help children through this period and minimize the chances of long-term damage.

DO I NEED A LAWYER TO BUY A HOUSE?

For most people buying a house is the largest and most important financial decision we ever make. After dealing with the real estate agent and signing the contract it would be best to have a lawyer review the contract. Right? Wrong! That's like going to a doctor and asking if you removed your own appendix correctly. It's too late. At that point all we're talking about is damage control. The same goes for contracts. Once a contract is signed, any contract, it is likely binding on whoever signed it regardless of how bad the terms may be.

DIGITAL ASSETS COMPLICATE ESTATE AND GUARDIANSHIP ADMINISTRATION

The handling of estates and uncovering a person's assets is becoming more difficult with the advent of digital assets. This is becoming a complex issue in handling the assets of a decedent, stroke victim, or someone who suffers from a mental disability. In the "old days", we would merely look through the mail to obtain the monthly statements from financial institutions. Now with people increasingly opting out of paper statements and going "paperless" it is much more burdensome to accumulate information. If all a person's assets are available only through websites, some or all of those assets may go unfound, if an executor does not know where to look. Even if the executor does know of assets, the lack of user names and passwords will prevent access. Complicating matters further, many services require/encourage a change of passwords on a regular basis. So even if a disclosure of passwords is made, it will need to be amended over time. If the decedent used a "biometric" password, aka a fingerprint, that will make it impossible to access those accounts.

OHIO DRIVER LICENSE SUSPENSIONS FOR MARIJUANA POSSESSION HAS CHANGED

For many years now if you possessed marijuana, or had any drug conviction, you were assessed a driver license suspended for a minimum of 6 months to a maximum 5 years. This suspension was mandatory and a judge did not have any discretion in this matter. This would happen even if the possession had nothing to do with a motor vehicle. Then, if that individual applied for a job or had an insurance update the words "DRUG SUSPENSION" appeared on the print out. This made many people unable to get a job or lose a job they had. It would also cause insurance rates to increase and they had to pay costly reinstatement fees. This made the penalties very severe.

OHIO'S NEW OVI LAW

Ohio has a new OVI law which went into effect April 6, 2017. The main changes involve the "lookback" rule, driving privileges during an OVI suspension, and the mandatory 3 day jail sentence.

WHAT IS A CRIME?

A crime is anything a legislature says it is. For hundreds of years a crime was committed if someone had criminal intent or mens rea. That is, you had to intend to do something criminal, also known as malice aforethought. Crime was defined by the act, not the result. Now it seems more crimes are defined by the result, not the act.

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Altick & Corwin Co., L.P.A.
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Dayton, OH 45402

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