Ball and Morse Law Blog

Ohio Dormant Mineral Act

In Devitis v. Draper (Case No. 13 MO 0017), the Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals considered whether an oil and gas royalty interest is subject to abandonment under R.C. 5301.56 (the Dormant Mineral Act).

6 important challenges your business must face

You may be starting a new business or looking to expand. You may be a sole proprietor or the CEO of a large corporation. All businesses, no matter what size they are, face challenges. You often hear a business owner say that employees represent the company's biggest asset. While that may be true, other elements are essential to the well-being of any company or organization. An experienced attorney can help with the legal matters that surface, so that your business stays on track for success. Here are six of the most important challenges your business must face.

Should I write a business plan?

You may think of a business plan as a tool to attract investors and raise capital. However, once you put the ideas you have down on paper-chiefly your business goals and how you intend to achieve them-you will be able to see the many parts of your new venture all at once. You will likely find intersections of interest that have more potential than you had imagined as well as some dead ends that may cause you to back up and go in a different direction.

Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5796)

In Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5796), the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a landmark decision involving the Dormant Mineral Act. In Corban, the Supreme Court of Ohio addressed two certified questions from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.

Can you protect your business in a divorce?

Not only does a divorce typically cut across numerous emotions throughout the process, but the parties will often have to explore several legal areas as well. Depending on the personal circumstances, finances and duration of the marriage, individuals might have to address concerns such as tax implications, property division and business valuation.

If the divorcing couple owns a business - either started together or simply developed together - each party will likely have very different ideas about how to proceed. If you brought the business into the marriage or you believe you hold a major stake in the future of the organization, it is crucial that you take the steps necessary to protect yourself and your business interests.

But, what can be done?

Business succession: Five issues to be aware of

Estate planning can be a challenging process for nearly anyone. It forces people to focus directly on their own mortality and determine what should happen to their assets when they pass away. One critical aspect of estate planning - and a reason why the process shouldn't be considered a one-and-done attorney meeting - centers on business succession planning.

Family businesses play a crucial role in the American economy. For this reason, business owners realize that they not only have to protect their legacy but they have a responsibility to their community. For these reasons, it is wise to consider your business succession plan when putting together a comprehensive estate plan.

I feel fine. I don't need a will.

Wrong.

No matter your age, health or wealth, it is important to consider the benefits of developing a comprehensive estate plan. With a will in place, an individual gains a measure of control over the distribution of their assets and peace of mind knowing that their surviving loved ones won't be locked in protracted legal battles over who gets what.

A will is typically the piece of the estate planning puzzle that most people think of first. Wills can be as general or specific as necessary. In some cases, people create a will that specifically describes the distribution of every asset - from clothes to furniture to comic book collections. In other cases, people will create a document that might name one heir who can distribute assets as he or she sees fit. No matter how you'd like to proceed, it is important to discuss your estate planning needs with an experienced attorney.

What you should know about holographic wills in Oklahoma

Estate planning is personal, and there may not be anything more personal than a handwritten will. At Ball & Morse, PLLC, we know that many people in Oklahoma may prefer to write out their wishes themselves. You certainly have the right to do so, but you should know a few specifics to ensure that your document is legal and protected.

As the Oklahoma Department of Human Services points out, not all states will honor a handwritten will, also known as a holographic will. Oklahoma does accept them long as they are signed, dated and completely handwritten. If you put one together here and relocate, you will have to determine whether or not your new state will honor your will. Additionally, these documents are only valid for the people who have written and signed them. In other words, a husband and wife are not able to have a joint holographic will.

What should I know about generation-skipping trusts?

You may be drawn to a generation-skipping trust because of its ability to help you plan for your grandchildren’s future. Through this estate planning tool, you will be able to place a certain portion of your estate into a trust that will bypass your children and directly benefit the next generation.

Experts point out that you can also enjoy the benefits of compound interest. For example, you could put shares of mutual funds or stocks into the trust, which could grow for years until your grandchildren are ready to take over the trust. As the grantor, you may be able to make money from the income that the trust’s assets generate.

Undue influence poses a threat for elderly making wills

In order for a will in Oklahoma to be valid, it must meet certain conditions. The Oklahoma Bar Association points out that the following must be true: 

  •        The testator must have been competent when the will was created.
  •        The will must have been executed with certain formalities.
  •        The will must not have been a product of undue influence.

The last point is especially relevant concerning the wills of elderly individuals who rely on friends or family for help with their estate planning. In fact, undue influence is viewed as a form of elder abuse.

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