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Wagner Law LLC
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A suburban law practice in Mason, Ohio, focusing on business transactions, estate planning and probate.
A suburban law practice in Mason, Ohio, focusing on business transactions, estate planning and probate.

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Transfer-on-Death of property - now even better in Ohio!

One of Wagner Law’s favorite estate planning tools is the Transfer on Death Designation Affidavit... a long name for a simple and cost-efficient tool to transfer real property without the probate court.

Basically, the TODDA (my own acronym) allows individuals to designate who should inherit their real property after they die -- with no need to go through probate or even include it in the Will. It’s a simple, short document that after signing is recorded in the county in which the property is located. After death, the beneficiaries listed on the TODDA can have the county recorder simply transfer the property into their names with little cost and no court involvement. It’s an exceptionally cost-effective way to pass real property to loved ones.

The only potential downside had been that the TODDA was effective unless a revocation was specifically written and recorded. So, even in cases of divorce or dissolution, the terms of the TODDA stood, even if the beneficiary was now the ex-spouse!

However, in December 2016, that issue was resolved. Under a new Ohio law, TODDAs where a spouse is designated as the beneficiary are AUTOMATICALLY terminated by divorce, dissolution or annulment. In cases where a TODDA is filed designating the spouse, and the couple later divorces, the listed ex-spouse is treated as having pre-deceased and will not receive the property.

-Nancy Wagner, Esq.
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Non-Competition Agreements... Does your company use them? I draft them for many of my clients -- across several industries. Some caution is needed in drafting them to ensure that the court will uphold them.

The case posted about below is interesting. A court in Tennessee handled a case governed by Ohio law (message me if you have questions about jurisdiction and choice of law provisions). Company A sued company B for hiring several of Company A's employees who had signed non-compete agreements. In the lawsuit, Company B requested that Company A disclose information regarding Company A's previous efforts (or non-efforts) in prior situations where employees had left Company A to work for a competitor. Presumably, Company B was hoping to show that Company A had not uniformly enforced its non-compete agreement and therefor was not justified in suing Company B.

Company A objected to providing any such information as irrelevant... and the court agreed, holding that Company A's previous enforcement, or lack thereof, was irrelevant.

The upshot of this? At least according to this case, you can be selective in deciding which former employees to chase with your non-compete agreement. A strategic decision to let one employee go to a competitor without challenge won't keep you from enforcing the non-compete against another employee who leaves for a competitor.

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NEW Drunk Driving (OVI) Law Taking Effect Soon!

Annie's Law, named after a victim of a drunk driver, takes effect on April 6, 2017.

The new law significantly increases mandatory minimum license suspension periods for OVI offenders (even first-time offenders). It also increases from 6 years to 10 years "look back" period to count prior OVI offenses. The new law also changes the way the Court's will use Interlock devices to monitor offenders.

One of Wagner Law's attorneys - Traci Carr - is a former former law enforcement officer trained in OVI detection and conviction. If you find yourself charged, please consider giving Traci a call to help with your defense.

PLEASE don't drink and drive.

Call (513) 336-7200 and ask for Traci Carr.

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Powers of Attorneys (POAs) and Healthcare Directives are NOT just for seniors.

Every adult should have up-to-date POAs and Directives. Even young and middle-aged adults suffer from automobile and workplace accidents, unexpected illness, strokes, early-onset dementia, etc.

If you are left incapacitated without those documents in place, then your loved ones are likely facing a guardianship proceeding to help manage your finances and care for you -- process that is far more expensive and time consuming than having these basic documents prepared while you are still healthy.

Call Nancy today for a consultation. (513) 336-2700

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The importance of saving your original Last Will & Testament: Our office has been handling the probate estate of a family that had a photocopy of their deceased family member's Will, but could not locate the original.

Unlike many other legal documents, a photocopy is NOT good enough for a probate estate. And the failure to produce the original results in significant costs - a court hearing is generally required, with testimony from original Will witnesses and family members.

We generally advise our clients to either let us hold the original for them in our safe or, if they wish to keep the original, to store it in a water-proof, fire-proof locking safe (and let their family know how to access that safe!)

If you have questions, call today (513-336-7200).

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SENIOR SCAM ALERT:
Be aware of this common senior scam... the grandchild call.

In this scam, the senior receives a call that seems to be from a grandchild who is in desperate need for money. In a common variation, the "grandchild" has had a car accident and has been arrested and needs bail money (and the accident explains why the grandchild doesn't quite sound like himself). The "grandchild" tells the senior that they have to keep it between themselves and not to tell anyone else.

And in some cases, the crooks earlier phoned the genuine grandchild, pretending to be from a cell phone company, telling them to switch off their phone for a maintenance project, thus preventing the grandparent from checking the story.

CAUTION: NEVER wire or send money until you've phoned the grandchild (or their parent) and confirmed all of this. These scammers are VERY good at what they do and can easily take you in.
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Another quick post on updating your Will. This one comes right from my Website.

It’s a frequently asked question.Last Will and Testament.. I have an old Will, does it need to be updated?

In Ohio, a valid Will, no matter how old, will remain effective until it is revoked by its maker. As a result, all Wills should include a statement that revokes all prior Wills. Any Will prepared by an attorney will include this language (DIY Wills are another matter entirely).

As a general guideline, there are personal life changes that might prompt the need for an update, as well as changes in the law.

As for changes in the law, for my Ohio residents, I suggest that if you had a Will prepared or an estate plan done prior to 2013, it would be wise to have it reviewed. In 2013, Ohio revoked its estate tax. And it was around this time that the lifetime exemption cap for federal estate tax was raised to around $5+M. Congress seems unwilling to change course on that so I’ve been making my estate plans based on that high exemption.

As for personal changes, here’s a list of possible life events that might mean you should reconsider your estate plan and the terms of your current Will:
__ The individuals you have named as beneficiaries or executors/trustees are deceased
__ As a result of birth or adoption, new people should be considered
__ Divorce or marriage – either your own or a beneficiaries or executor/trustee
__ Move to a new state
__ Change in guardians, personal representatives, or trustees
__ Substantial increase/decrease in your estate
____Children named in your documents have reach the age of eighteen
__ Purchase/investment/disposition of business ownership
__ Your are approaching 70 1/2 years of age and have an IRA or other plan that requires you to take distributions
__ Passage of Time

You know what to do... 513-793-2500
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Do you have an old Will?

I recommend my clients review their Wills annually. A good time is right around tax return time.

In addition to life changes, such as moves to a new state or additional children or grandchildren, there are sometimes changes in the law that need attention.

The article below lists some key dates - estate plans or Wills prepared before those dates should be looked at. And I would add a key Ohio date - January 2, 2013, at which time the Ohio Estate tax was eliminated.

If you think you need an update, you know what to do... 513-793-2500.
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So your loved one recently passed away and the bills keep coming?

Do not - I repeat, DO NOT - whip out your checkbook and start writing checks to pay those bills. Call me or another probate attorney to discuss. The article below explains why, but it covers the law generally across the states.

Ohio has even more protection against unsecured creditors.
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Only around half of all parents have a will or living trust document in place.

Without an estate plan, probate can be a long and frustrating process, sucking up resources that would have gone to loved ones. About half of my practice is probate so take it from me: you want this stuff taken care of before you die. It will save your loved ones so much money and avoid a lot of conflict. http://ow.ly/UYyaO
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