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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. 

Is there property not included in probate?

The idea of having to go through probate in Ohio for a loved one's estate can be intimidating. This process often goes quickly, but sometimes, it can drag on. It really depends on the circumstances. However, what you may not understand is that there are some types of assets that do not ever have to go through probate. Knowing what these are could help you when making your own estate plan.

The Ohio State Bar Association explains that some assets may be nonprobate property. These assets include anything that is jointly owned. If an asset is owned by the person who dies and someone else, it automatically goes to the living owner. Another type of nonprobate property is a trust. The nature of a trust already sets up who receives whatever you have in the trust. It does not need the court to step in and distribute it.

Forensic science may not provide reliable results

When a crime is committed, evidence is collected and processed in order to give officials facts regarding the case. Different types of forensic tests are conducted, and the information received from those tests may influence a judge and/or jury as to whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. The problem lies in the fact that not all forensic tests deliver accurate and reliable results. Some tests, that are used to provide evidence for criminal cases in court, have yet to be established as scientifically valid. Shoeprint analysis and bite mark comparisons are just a few tests that have not been scientifically validated.

According to the Innocence Project, there have been more than 360 criminal cases that have been overturned after DNA evidence showed the person convicted of the crime was innocent. The misapplication of forensic scientific testing was involved in 45 percent of those cases. In addition to the use of invalid testing methods, some scientists give exaggerated or understated testimony regarding the results. The way the scientist presents the information to the jury or judge can alter the way the evidence is perceived and could increase the chances of a person receiving a guilty verdict.

Refusing a breathalyzer can result in jail time

Many Ohio residents begin planning picnics, trips to the beach and tailgate parties as Spring days become longer and warmer. Gatherings of this type frequently include alcohol. At The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc., we often represent clients arrested for operating under the influence (OVI).

According to FindLaw, law enforcement officers look for signs of impairment when they pull over an individual driving erratically. Once stopped, they may ask you to take a breathalyzer which can help determine your blood alcohol content. When applying for your driver’s license, you gave consent to chemical and field sobriety tests that assess impairment. By refusing the tests, you risk automatic six to 12-month license suspension. If this is your first offense, the time may be shorter than if it is your second or more. As a result, you may lose your auto insurance, or experience significantly increased rates.

Can I drink alcohol in a self-driving car?

Self-driving or autonomous vehicles are touted as a solution to the safety issues caused by human error when operating a vehicle. Depending on the type of vehicle and its capabilities, some people even wonder whether automated vehicles will solve the problem of drunk driving. Getting an answer to this question requires an understanding of different types of self-driving vehicles.

According to, there are distinct differences between self-driving and driverless cars. A self-driving car is one that is able to perform some controls on its own, but it may still require human intervention. Conversely, a driverless car can perform these same controls but also monitor its surroundings and reacts to conditions in the appropriate manner. While these vehicles are not yet on the road, some models currently being tested on closed courses are without steering wheels and pedals.

How grandparents can help improve their family's financial health

According to a recent study, 67 percent of people surveyed that were over 50 years old wanted to invest in their children and grandchildren. This study also found that these people were frustrated with their children’s lack of financial planning.

The problem lies in the fact that not all beneficiaries or trustees know how to manage wealth or inheritance. Many young people have enormous amounts of debt and estate planning is the last thing on their minds.

How can I tell if my spouse is cheating?

Infidelity is a common reason for many divorces in Ohio. When a spouse is unfaithful the whole family is affected, and even suspicions of infidelity can be enough to cause strife. If you think your spouse may be cheating, Psychology Today offers the following insight. While these signs don’t apply to every situation, they can be helpful for many couples.

It’s natural to be in communication with your spouse throughout the day, especially given the ubiquity of mobile devices. Accordingly, if you find your partner is unreachable at times, it could be cause for alarm. This is especially true during late work nights or business trips. While you may be afforded a reasonable excuse, it’s good to be wary if the problem occurs on a frequent basis.

Revoking a will in Ohio

It is important to see to your estate planning early on in your adult life to maintain control over the eventual distribution of the assets you will spend a lifetime accumulating. Yet another vital point to remember is that even after you have created a will, the estate planning process is not over. Your will should be reviewed throughout your life to ensure that its stipulations reflect your current desires. Oftentimes, such reviews will reveal where revisions should be made. This prompts many in Columbus to come to us here at The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. asking how they can revoke an existing will. 

Updating a will can ultimately introduce contention into the estate administration process as those whose interest in your estate are affected by updates may dispute their validity. Thus, you will want to ensure that your revocation of an earlier will is indeed legitimized. Drafting a new and updated will does, in fact, invalidate an earlier will (or certain provisions therein). Yet often that may not be enough to avoid a dispute. For this reason, it is often recommended that you present actual evidence of a revocation. According to Section 2107.33 of Ohio's Revised Code, tearing, destroying or obliterating a will in the presence of witnesses effectively revokes it. This can be done in any of the following manners: 

  • By you yourself destroying it
  • By you witnessing its destruction 
  • By offering written authorization to destroy it

Jessica D'Varga Receives Endorsement for Municipal Court Judge

The Law Office of Saia & Piatt, Inc. is proud to announce that Jessica D'Varga has received the endorsement of the Franklin County Democratic Party as a Judicial Candidate for a seat on the Franklin County Municipal Court. Ms. D'Varga was admitted to the bar in 2005 and has been in private practice with the Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. since 2010. With a win in the November 2019 election, Ms. D'Varga will bring her 14 years of experience to the bench and will effectively serve the citizens of Franklin County.

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