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Major decision made in Prince's estate dispute

Can you believe that more than a year has passed since Prince died? During that time, a major dispute came to light over his estate. Prince died without a will -- the legal term for this is dying "intestate" -- and as such, many people came forward to claim that they were rightful heirs to Prince's estate.

The estate is valued at around $200 million. A judge recently ruled that Prince's six siblings would be the heirs to the estate, even though some 45 people have claimed that they are somehow related to Prince or deserve a portion of the estate. Some of the claims made by these claimants have been dismissed by DNA testing; others have been dismissed as a matter of law. Now Prince's six siblings will get the estate once numerous other logistical hurdles are cleared -- such as checking on the other claimants who say they have a legitimate right to the estate.

Drama unfolding between Sears and vendor

When two companies sign a contract, they legal accept that the terms of the contract must be followed. It is possible to change the terms of the deal if formal discussions are held and an acceptable amendment to the contract (or even a new contract altogether) is agreed to. However, no company can just unilaterally pull out of contract without cause and no company should allow a partner to flagrantly violate the terms of such a deal.

We bring all of this up in light of a revelation by the Chief Executive Officer of Sears, who has alleged that One World Technologies is attempting to "embarrass" Sears and use legal action to back out of or change the terms of the contract they have had together for nine years. Details are sparse here, so it isn't exactly clear what the CEO is specifically alleging, nor is it clear what One World Technologies thinks of the issue (they declined to comment).

On the role of an executor and estate plans

When someone creates their estate plan, the role of executor is one of the most important issues that needs to be decided. The executor of an estate is in charge of ensuring that a person's last wishes are fulfilled as per the will, and that the estate is properly organized and handled. As such, it is a stressful responsibility that an executor takes on, but it can be fulfilling one.

It is not a requirement for the executor of an estate to be an attorney or a financial professional. However, the executor must act in good faith and uphold their fiduciary duty as the executor of an estate. If the executor fails in these simple but important responsibilities, they could be removed from their position and even held liable in civil or criminal court.

Protecting your family business interests even after retirement

It is impossible to predict the future, but you can take steps to protect your interests in the years ahead. As a small business owner, you know the importance of planning and preparation when it comes to your success, but that also applies to what will happen to your business after you retire or pass away. 

Succession planning is an important step for every individual who owns a small business or family-owned business in Ohio. By taking the steps necessary to ensure that you have a solid plan in place, you can control what will happen to your company and protect the interests of your loved ones.

Employers have legal interests to protect too

It is common to see stories about cases where an employee is no longer with a company because he or she was discriminated against, or sexually harassed, or retaliated against in some form. These are unfortunate stories, and it would be great if these things never happen. Sadly, they do, and when the case goes to court, both sides of the situation have to protect their interests and defend their legal position.

While it is understandable to hear a phrase like "sexual harassment" or "wage and hour dispute" and immediately side with the disgruntled employee, there are many situations where the employer has a legitimate case to make. And in any case, an employer is entitled to their rights as well. They have to protect their position.

Estate plans and probate: problems can arise

Every family and indeed every individual should build out their estate with a wide range of legal options, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney among other potential options. But even though the number of legal options is ultimately finite, there are an infinite number of circumstances that could be involved in any estate plan. No two families will be the same; no two wills will be the same; no two trusts are the same. Each and every estate has to be dealt with individually and addressed in a specific manner.

Given the wide range of outcomes and options, it is imperative that anyone who is drafting a will or putting together their estate gets in touch with an experienced attorney to help them. Without legal help, you run the risk of putting forth an estate that doesn't fully capture your wishes, or even runs afoul of the law.

Challenging an estate is legally complex

In a perfect world, estates would never be disputed. The grantor would create his or her will early in their life and proactively manage it, ensuring that beneficiaries are properly designated and that they are receiving what they should get. The beneficiaries would understand the legal complexities of the situation. And, in general, there would be no feelings of anger or resentment based on what the beneficiaries receive.

However, this does not always happen. Estates are disputed and people mount legal challenges. They may do this legitimately or they may do it as an emotional reaction. Either way, there are important legal aspects to consider when an estate is dispute or legally challenged.

When should you update your will?

Having a will is an essential part to your estate plan. But once you have created a will, it isn't as if you can just put your hands up and say "well, I'm done with this forever!" Wills must be updated frequently, and there are many specific circumstances that can arise that should cause you to look over your will and update it accordingly. If you don't update your will, you could risk your assets going to someone or some party that you didn't intend.

So what "specific circumstances" are we talking about here? These are just a few examples of things that should make you review your will:

What can a durable power of attorney do for me?

Whether you are just starting the estate planning process or have a plan in place but your circumstances have changed, it can feel like an overwhelming task to protect yourself in the event you become disabled or incapacitated in some way. As you cannot predict the future in order to know exactly what your estate plan should include, there are certain legal documents that Ohio residents should consider preparing to cover certain contingencies. A durable power of attorney is one of them.

This week's column will address the purpose of a durable power of attorney and give a brief overview of the different types available. Many people benefit from having this important legal document included in their estate plans.

Employers: Avoid litigation with arbitration clauses

Running a business is an incredibly complex responsibility. Employers have to balance the priorities of the company, the rights of the workers and their financial resources on a regular basis, and sometimes, disagreements arise. This is not surprising, considering all the different perspectives and interests involved in any business relationship.

While these disputes may be unavoidable, you can take control of how they are resolved. For instance, many business owners in Cincinnati opt to include arbitration clauses in their contracts. 

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