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Cincinnati Business and Commercial Litigation Legal Blog

Aretha Franklin's family still fighting for control of her estate

When people with considerable assets and complicated families pass away without an estate plan in place, loved ones and others often engage in expensive, lengthy, contentious legal battles. That's probably not what the deceased person would have wanted. Unfortunately, people don't want to think about their ultimate passing, so they don't take steps that would help avoid these disputes.

One of Aretha Franklin's sons is in a court battle with her niece, who is the representative (executor) of her estate. At stake is control of the R&B icon's assets and legacy.

Cleveland fire captains allege discrimination, retaliation

Employers can make discrimination complaints by employees worse by penalizing those employees. That's what Cleveland's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) commissioner is accused of doing according to a lawsuit filed by five EMS captains. The captains, all of whom are African American, are also suing the city for discrimination and retaliation.

The discrimination, according to the plaintiffs, centered around shift assignments. Since EMS receives calls 24-7 every day of the year, shift assignments are important. Employees bid on assignments annually, and whether they get their chosen assignments is supposed to be determined by their seniority. The plaintiffs say that they were denied preferred days and shifts because of their race and/or gender after they'd gotten those shifts.

Why your estate planning should begin when you're a young adult

Many people don't begin to think about estate planning until they're nearing -- or already in -- retirement. However, younger adults are starting to see the advantages of at least beginning to build an estate plan. According to a survey by, about a third of adults in their mid-30s to mid-40s have drafted a will.

By putting in place just the documents you currently need at a young age, you can begin doing some planning for what you want to happen to you and your assets if you pass away or become incapacitated.

Understanding the basics of a limited liability company

Starting a business is an exciting time for an Ohio entrepreneur. Maybe you dreamed for years about launching your own company and working for yourself, but there is much more involved with this process than just having a dream and a company Facebook page. There are certain steps you will have to take and decisions you will have to make. 

One of the choices that you will have to make is deciding what type of company you will want to have. There are various types of business structures, and choosing the right one is important. This choice will impact how your company will operate and the way you will have to pay taxes. You will find it beneficial to do your research and be familiar with the implications of each option.

Addressing resignation and termination in employment contracts

As a business owner, you likely have a workforce comprised largely of people who don't have employment contracts. These are considered "at will" employees.

However, you may need to hire some experienced people with valued executive or technical skills that your company requires. To induce them to leave their current employer to take a job with you, you may need to guarantee certain things to them in an employment contract.

Don't forget your digital assets when developing your estate plan

As you work on your estate plan, much of your focus will be on what will happen to your assets when you die. Who will get the money in your accounts, your home, your antiques and more?

Increasingly, many of our assets are digital. Some have monetary value. Many don't, but are important nonetheless.

Proactive steps to prevent a partnership disagreement

Entering into a business agreement with a partner is a big decision. While there are many benefits of doing so, it has the potential to end in disaster if you don't take the right steps upfront.

There are many proactive steps you can take to prevent a partnership disagreement in the future.

  • Create a contract: With a contract in place, both individuals are clear as to what is expected of them. Not only does this help outline responsibilities, but it will come in handy in the event of a future level dispute. Also, don't force your partner to sign a contract. Instead, make them part of the process.
  • Conduct a background check: This may sound intrusive, but it's critical to helping you understand what the person is all about. For example, if you find that they're tangled up in other business-related lawsuits, it's probably best to consider another partner.
  • Talk about finances: Money has a way of turning an otherwise sound business partnership into a messy situation. Before you do anything, talk about finances and work this into your contract. Are the both of you putting up the same amount of money? Do you have the same amount of equity in the business? Answering these questions upfront will put your mind at ease.

A handbook is vital if you have employees

Even if your small business only employs a few people, you may want to create an employee handbook. Without one, you could leave your company -- and possibly yourself, depending on your entity structure -- vulnerable to legal actions.

Many employee complaints occur because there are no known standard rules that apply to everyone. Not only does this include policies, but also procedures for issues such as harassment, retaliation and discrimination. These three issues cause the majority of employee claims, along with wage and hour disputes.

Unenforceable contracts can cost companies big in lawsuits

It is risky business acquiring property or leasing it for commercial purposes. Many industries lend themselves to a lot of turnover, and assets can turn into liabilities without proper planning. Even the best planning can fall in the wrong environment or time for a business idea.

This planning includes careful attention to the legal requirements in Ohio for a business contract or lease agreement. When specific needs for filings or public statements are not made, an entire contract may be rendered invalid or unenforceable at the worst possible times.

Key tips for choosing the right business partner

Choosing a business partner sounds easy enough, but if you make the wrong decision, it could result in a variety of issues in the future.

Fortunately, there are several key tips you can follow to choose the right partner for your business:

  • Find someone with a differing skillset: If your partner has the same skills and experience as you, you may find yourself needing to hire for additional positions in the near future. However, if they have a differing skillset, you'll complement each other nicely.
  • Choose a financially stable partner: This may reduce the number of potential partners, but it's critical to go into business with someone who is financially stable. Not only does it give you peace of mind, but it also lessens the likelihood of them jumping ship at the first sign of trouble.
  • Take the partnership for a test drive: Rather than dive right into a business partnership, ask the other person if they want to work together for a few weeks. This gives you the chance to feel out the situation, understand the pros and cons of your potential partner and talk through the best way to proceed. Also, if things don't work out, you can simply move on.
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