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Ohio Legal Blog

When is probate not applicable?

Probate is the process of proving a will's validity, settling debt, and dispersing assets to heirs. When certain circumstances apply, probate may not be necessary. While the rules vary from state to state, The Balance offers a few examples of when probate is not applicable. 

The proceeds of life insurance policies and retirement accounts are distributed to heirs via beneficiary designations. The asset owner fills in designations with the name of one or more heirs, as well as supplying the percentage of the asset they want to be dispersed to each listed beneficiary. When a person dies, these proceeds pass automatically to any heirs listed on the documents. As a result, accounts are not subject to the probate hearing. 

How can I avoid child discipline issues after my divorce?

Many parents disagree on how to properly discipline their children when they neglect chores and school work or talk back. These disagreements often become more pronounced after a divorce, especially when ex-spouses share in the decision-making responsibility. Very Well Family explains how divorced parents should approach common discipline issues to ensure their children are subject to consistent rules and expectations. 

Communication is vital in any parenting relationship. That's why you should convey messages directly to your ex instead of passing them along via your child. This is especially important when it comes to matters of discipline, which may be controversial subjects. Kids who feel put in the middle are less likely to feel safe and secure within a parenting relationship. In the same token, badmouthing the other parent's rules is likely to incur similar feeling in your children. 

Alcohol affects people differently

There are many factors that affect how someone absorbs alcohol, and it is important to understand what they are to avoid getting an OVI in Ohio. Even drinkers of the same size and gender can metabolize alcohol differently, which can make it difficult to determine when someone has had too much to drink to get behind the wheel.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the proportion of fat and water in the body is a large determinant of how alcohol affects each individual. In general, women have higher levels of body fat, so when given the same amount of alcohol as a male counterpart, their blood alcohol levels will be higher. When there is food in the stomach, this helps slow the absorption of alcohol. It is imperative to drink while eating or after a meal to keep alcohol levels lower. 

How reliable are eyewitnesses?

When a crime is committed in Ohio, or an accident happens and there are eyewitnesses, many people mistakenly believe that they are the best way to testify what happened during the situation. According to the National Center for State Courts, eyewitness testimony can be highly unreliable when it comes to criminal cases. With the help of social scientists, law enforcement officials may need to make changes before an eyewitness is completely reliable.

In previous cases, courts relied heavily on eyewitness testimony until DNA was introduced. Some convicted individuals were exonerated based on DNA evidence although eyewitness testimony was used to convict them. The reality is that the mind does not record an experience exactly like a video camera would. It is susceptible to biases and unconscious distortions through suggestion. Even the most confident witness can be challenged when it comes to remembering details.

Should your estate plan encompass digital assets?

When you are creating your will, you may first think about how you want to distribute your physical and financial assets, such as real estate and stocks. However, it is important to consider your digital assets as well. Email accounts, digital bank statements and social media profiles may all contain vital information and content your survivors need to access. State laws may vary in how they address digital assets after death; in Ohio, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act provides guidance on the topic.

Including your digital assets in your estate plan may give your heirs and executors the access they need to follow the terms of your will. According to the Ohio State Bar Association, the RUFADAA gives executors, trustees and agents default access to your digital assets. However, if you want any of these agents to access the content of your digital communications, such as email, you must provide an affirmation to that effect. You may also make modifications in your estate plan to limit a fiduciary's access to specific accounts. In some cases, you may be able to use online tools, such as Google's Inactive Account Manager, for these elections.

Setting child support: What you should know

Children who are going through a divorce are forced to face extreme changes in their lives. One of the biggest changes may be transitioning to a single-parent household from a traditional-family household. This may mean moving from a home to an apartment or moving in with grandparents. Child support is designed to ease this transition and allows kids access to the financial support necessary to have a good quality of life.

When you file for divorce, your information, along with your spouse’s information, is put into a child support calculator. In Ohio, child support is based on an income shares model. This means that children are given the same type of financial support that they have if their parents remained married. Both parents’ finances are factored into the final child support amount. Other factors are considered as well, including how much time the child spends with each parent.

3 reasons older couples might want to consider a mediated divorce

If you are separating from your spouse after decades of marriage, you probably don’t want to go through the long and stressful process of a traditional divorce. You might want to consider skipping the courtroom and going through mediation instead.

Sitting down with a neutral mediator and figuring out your separation peacefully could make your divorce much easier. If you don’t understand how mediation works, you may want to learn how it can help you.

What factors go into determining child custody?

If you are currently going through a divorce, you know first-hand how extremely overwhelming the process can be. Not only are there a host of issues to negotiate, but there are often strong emotions involved when terminating a marriage. One of the most difficult tasks to tackle during the procedures is that of child custody. While every situation has unique circumstances, decisions must be made keeping the best interests of the children in mind. What does the judge look at when determining what type of custody is best for the child?

One of the biggest factors the judge may consider involves which parent acted as the primary caretaker during the marriage. In many cases, one parent may have spent more time with the children, taking them to school, being involved in extracurricular activities and caring for them on a daily basis.

Honesty and cooperation can go a long way in a traffic stop

A drunk driving conviction bring severe penalties including fines, jail time and loss of license. A conviction for operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) can also impact you socially from your personal relationships to your employment status. Now, imagine experiencing these life-altering consequences only to have a court exonerate you months later.

That’s exactly what happened to a 22-year-old North Royalton man arrested for OVI in the fall of 2018. The arresting officer’s report stated the defendant showed bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and other physical signs of intoxication and that the vehicle smelled of alcohol. He added the defendant’s body swayed and had trouble following instructions.

Avoiding estate taxes

The main purpose of estate planning is to ensure that one is able to leave as much of their personal wealth to their designated beneficiaries in Columbus. This is the reason why so many estate planning experts recommend that people structure their estates to avoid processes that and obligations that can eat away at an estate's assets. One element that can money away from an estate is estate taxes. Yet most likely assume that paying taxes on an estate is an inevitability. That may not be true in many cases. 

The federal government has set an estate tax threshold, which according to Forbes Magazine is $11.4 million for 2019. If the total taxable value if one's estate is less than that threshold, the estate is exempt from federal estate tax (Ohio does not impose a state estate tax either). Given the high dollar amount of the federal threshold, it may be reasonable to assume that many testators may not even have to worry about their estates being taxed. 

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