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Learn the Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Probate and Business Law


1. What happens during the probate process?

The probate process is the formal process that occurs after a person’s death that wraps up final matters, such as paying last debts and distributing the decedent’s property in his or her estate to others. If the decedent had a will, the property goes to the stated beneficiaries. If the decedent did not have a will, the property goes to the decedent’s heirs according to Ohio’s intestacy laws. During this process, the decedent’s heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors are given notice of the death. Notice is also published in a local paper. Creditors have a limited amount of time to make claims against the estate. The executor is responsible for handling these claims and preparing necessary filings with the court, including an inventory of assets. At the end of the process, any remaining property is distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries.

2. What happens if an estate does not go through probate?

If the decedent owned no property at the time of death or had a small estate, a full probate process may be unnecessary. A person inheriting property can submit an affidavit to the court that describes the estate assets, states all payment of burial and funeral expenses has been made, and asks to be given the property to which he or she is entitled. The court can issue an order that states no further administration of probate is necessary and that directs the person or entity holding the asset to provide it to the person making the request.

3. What is a probate lawsuit?

A probate lawsuit refers to litigation that ensues during the probate process. For example, adispute may arise if a creditor is not paid on a claim it submits through the process, or if family members contest that the will was not properly executed or was the product of undue influence.

4. Is it possible to dissolve a partnership without serious financial losses?

Yes, this is a possibility if all of the partners are committed to bringing about this result. If the partners were proactive and included clear instructions in their partnership agreement or buy-sell agreement, they may be able to follow these instructions and walk away with minimal losses. If they did not create an agreement of this nature, they may still be able to reach an amicable agreement about how to dissolve the partnership with the assistance of an experienced lawyer and negotiator.

5. What is the difference between employees and independent contractors?

While employees and independent contractors may sometimes perform the same functions, there are legal differences between them. Independent contractors are often not eligible for employment benefits, such as health insurance, sick pay, or workers’ compensation. They may also not be covered by employment laws meant to protect employees, such as anti-discrimination laws and wage laws. However, if the IRS determines that an independent contractor was an employee, the employer may be liable for unpaid overtime or other costs. The determining factor of whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor is usually control with an employer being able to control the work hours, pay, and job performance of employees but not of independent contractors.

6. What is the difference between an LLC and Subchapter S corporation?

An LLC and S corporation has several differences. For example, an LLC can have an unlimited number of members while an S corporation can only have up to 100. S corporation stock is freely transferable while a membership interest in an LLC is usually not. S corps have directors and officers while LLCs have managers or members. S corporations may provide favorable tax treatment to owners because the owner can be treated as an employee and paid a reasonable salary. Profits and losses are also allocated differently.

7. What types of business or commercial matters can your firm help with?

We can assist you with drafting solid legal agreements that protect your interests. We can also help you resolve disputes that arise with employees, partners, and shareholders. We can also assist with issues regarding mergers and acquisitions.