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Cleveland Law Blog

A will is not for ‘getting the last word’

Michael Jackson’s father, Joseph Jackson, was left out of his famous son’s will. The pop singer’s father contested the validity of the will, which named Michael Jackson’s mother and his three children as the primary beneficiaries. After years of legal battles, a Los Angeles court ruled that Joseph Jackson had no legal standing in matters related to the singer’s estate.

Disinheriting family members is legal, but one should be aware that it can cause a great deal of difficulty, legal and otherwise, for the disinherited as well as for family members who remain beneficiaries.

Why couples get divorced

The reasons a marriage may end can vary from couple to couple. However, married couples in Ohio may benefit from learning about some of the most common reasons a divorce occurs.

A list that details the leading causes of divorce was created using data obtained from a National Center for Biotechnology Information study. The study involved surveying 52 people who had taken part in a prevention and relationship enhancement program before getting married. The purpose of the program was to help couples learn effective methods of conflict resolution and communication. The individuals who were surveyed were those who were divorced 14 after participating in the program. The objective of the study was to obtain information on why the marriage ended and if there were multiple contributing issues or a final deciding factor.

Negotiating a helpful child custody solution

When parents in Ohio decide to separate or divorce, the question of how to handle child custody and parenting time can be both logistically challenging and emotionally fraught. Many parents want to have as much time with their children as possible, and it can be difficult to adjust to sharing time with a former partner. However, developing a reliable parenting plan for joint custody can be an important move forward that helps the children to adjust to their lives after divorce. Since joint custody is increasingly the choice of couples and family courts, it can be important to consider the family's schedules and needs when determining a plan.

One important factor to consider when dividing child custody is the effect of a schedule on the children. When children move back and forth from home to home, it can be a difficult adjustment at first. Being conscious of how extracurricular activities, hobbies and time with friends fit into the parenting plan can help children to move forward, In addition, another key element in successful joint custody plans is physical proximity. Both parents should live relatively close to one another so that transportation is easy and manageable for the children, including daily transit to and from school.

Overcoming potential high-net-worth divorce obstacles

It's safe to assume that a lot of Ohio residents have caught wind of news about Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' divorce. Bezos and his wife of 25 years announced plans to split shortly after the start of the new year in 2019. While not too many couples in the Buckeye State -- or any state -- have the kind of money the Bezos family has, most high-asset divorces face obstacles over splitting complex assets.

The Bezos family has stated mutual intentions to make their divorce an amicable split, which is one of the main ways a high-asset couple can avoid major challenges. It can also be helpful for separating spouses to remain highly focused on their individual priorities. Such efforts may involve maintaining community and social obligations and attending work or family functions without visible signs of conflict.

Estate planning should plan for 'what-if" scenarios

Illinois residents who have taken the time to create an estate plan should feel a certain sense of satisfaction and confidence that whatever the future holds, there is an organized scheme in place to handle the distribution of property to their heirs and otherwise wrap up the business of the estate. Most people realize it is necessary to revisit the decisions made and consider updating the documents every so often or more frequently when a major life event occurs. However, many estates are planned without thought as to what may happen if an unusual or unanticipated situation arises.

For example, financial consultants report people typically change their will upon the birth of each additional child, naming each in the document. But if the unthinkable occurs, and one of the children predeceases the testator, the person who made the will, that child's share can be handled in different ways. One option is to take the deceased child's share and distribute it between the living children. This is called per capita distribution.

How to terminate power of attorney documents

After creating a power of attorney (POA), an Ohio estate owner can choose to revoke that document. For example, if the person who granted the power passes away, the document typically terminates upon their death. The individual who grants the POA could also choose to let it expire at a certain date in the future. However, most powers are intended to be durable, which means that they last forever.

There is a third way for a POA to be terminated before the grantor dies and if there is no set expiration date. This can be done by issuing a written revocation of the powers granted to the attorney-in-fact. It is important to note that the POA does not terminate until he or she receives it. In the event that the attorney-in-fact refuses to cede power, multiple copies of this letter should be sent to wherever that person may go.

Avoiding three potential problems when planning an estate

Ohio residents who are going through the estate planning process should keep three potential problems in mind. Outdated plans, beneficiary designations gone wrong and a lack of digital information are all issues that can cause court-bound family feuds, conflict and emotional distress.

Outdated estate plans are among the biggest issues that surviving family members face. For example, if an estate plan is not updated in the wake of a divorce, the emotional upheaval that follows while the family is dividing assets can result in serious complications. There have even been cases where a deceased person accidentally left his or her assets to an ex-spouse.

Nesting can keep home life for the kids stable during a divorce

For Ohio couples with kids, getting a divorce can be particularly difficult. Even if the divorce is amicable, the children can still have difficulties with the transition from one household to two. In order to help their children, some former couples choose "nesting," also known as "birdnesting," as a way to keep the children's home life stable.

Nesting is when a former couple keeps the family home. The children live in the family home full time, and the adults take turns living with the children. The parent who is not currently staying with the kids lives in a separate shared residence in the meantime. Since the kids are not being shuffled between residences, their home lives are not being as disrupted while the divorce is occurring. During the divorce, the kids will be able to stay at their same school and keep their same friend group.

Using a silent trust in an estate plan

An Ohio resident who is creating an estate plan might want to consider setting up a silent trust. This tool differs from other types of trusts because the trustee does not have the usual duty to keep beneficiaries informed about the trust.

Usually, a silent trust is irrevocable. The trust creator either puts limitations on what can be shared or waives the trustee's duty to share information with beneficiaries altogether. This might include not even informing the beneficiaries that the trust exists. The trust terms and local law will determine how much information is shared.

Myths about prenuptial agreements

Many people who get married in Ohio don't worry about getting a prenuptial agreement. There are many misconceptions about signing a prenup that stop couples from getting one when it would be in their best interests to consider it.

Most couples believe that prenuptial agreements are only for wealthy people. However, even if neither spouse is wealthy, a prenuptial agreement can help a couple prevent disputes later on in the event that the marriage doesn't work out.

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