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Ohio Will Changing Mental Capacity

In 2016, the Ninth District Court of Appeals decided that a person under legal guardianship can execute a valid will, ruling on Ohio will changing mental capacity.  Even more notable are the reasons: he suffered from schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder, had a low IQ and was a frequent drug user.  Using traditional analysis, the court determined that he had the capacity to execute a will. 

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Punitive Damages Award Against Dead Person Allowed

In 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a punitive damages award against dead person allowed.  The deceased person’s estate can be held responsible for punitive damages if a trial court awards such damages against the decedent, cutting into the share of the estate the heirs can receive. (more…)

Estate Taxes in Ohio

Even though the Ohio estate tax was repealed effective January 1, 2013, there are still estate taxes in Ohio.  A decedent’s estate may still have to pay a federal estate tax of 40% of the gross estate that is more than $5.34 million.  5.34 million dollars is the exempt amount that is not subject to federal taxation.  One may deduct funeral and burial expenses, payment of debts, charitable gifts, and most transfers to the surviving spouse.  One cannot exempt transfer on death or payable on death property from estate taxes.   A federal estate tax return (Form 706) does not always need to be filed.  When the decedent’s gross estate is more than the exempt amount, the return must be filed, even if it shows that no tax is owed.  Filing a federal estate tax return can allow a surviving spouse to combine his or her exemption with the deceased spouse, otherwise called a “portability election.”  If a wife inherits five million dollars from her deceased husband and files a federal estate tax return on the unused exemption, the wife would have $10.34 million in exemptions available in her estate upon her death.   (more…)

Should you use online legal document services?

Should you use online legal document services?  In 2014, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a will drafted with online legal document company E-Z Legal Form did not say who should get property not specifically listed in the will.  Instead, the will only specifically left everything to a sister, then a brother.  The Court also ruled that a handwritten note written and signed by the decedent was unenforceable under Florida law.  Therefore, all property owned by the decedent passed to the decedent’s nieces, although neither of them were named in the will.  While the will and handwritten note appeared to favor leaving everything to her brother in this particular situation, the Court was forced to resort to the Florida intestate statute to determine who was to receive all property not listed in her will.  One of the justices commented that this case of using pre-printed forms and drafting a will without legal assistance “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”  See the opinion and a related article: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2014/sc11-2147.pdf http://www.flascblog.com/e-zer-said-than-done-court-considers-will-prepared-with-commercially-available-form/ (more…)