Will Contests in Ohio – Frequently Asked Questions

If you expected an inheritance from a loved one but did not receive it, or received less than anticipated, you may have a good reason to challenge the deceased person’s last will and testament. Challenging the validity of a will is commonly called a “will contest,” and the person who created the will is called the “testator.”

Who may contest a testator’s will?
Anyone who would have benefited from the testator’s estate if the will in question did not exist. The contestant must prove they would have inherited by either the testator’s prior will, or by Ohio’s intestacy laws if the testator had no prior will. If the contestant would not receive an inheritance from testator’s prior will or from Ohio’s intestacy …

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Frequently Asked Divorce Questions

How long does divorce take in Ohio?
The length of a divorce proceeding depends on the type of divorce being pursued, and how agreeable the spouses are.  The fastest route is a dissolution of marriage.  Dissolutions require fully cooperative spouses, and can be finalized about 30 days after court filing.  The longest route is likely a contested divorce, which might not be resolved for years.
These time-frames are from filing date to court decree.  If a spouse wishes to modify the divorce decree (or appeal it), the spouses will find themselves in court again.  In this way, some divorces have several rounds, especially those involving child custody or property division disputes.
What type of divorce is right for me?
The divorce procedure you select …

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Obtaining Unexpected Profits from Ohio’s Dormant Minerals Act

Overview
Ohio’s dormant minerals act (DMA) is designed to rejuvenate abandoned oil and gas reservations by granting them to the surface owner (a more detailed explanation of the DMA can be found here).
A basic DMA process with one oil and gas holder:
In a very basic scenario, the Surface Owner notifies the oil and gas Holder that their rights will be declared abandoned in 60 days.  In order to retain their interests, the Holder must record a claim form prior to the 60th day.  A timely filed claim form shuts down the whole process: the Surface Owner cannot re-capture the Holder’s interests.
A complex DMA process with several oil and gas holders:
In a more typical scenario, there are several oil and gas Holders, …

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Non-Consenting Landowners and Conflicts Between Leases

This article discusses situations arising when several people own the same piece of land, and only some of them sign an oil and gas lease.  Resolving this issue requires a discussion of basic property ownership principles.
Types of Land Ownership
Ownership in land takes many forms.  Some individuals are the sole owner of their land.  Another piece of land could be owned by several people, such as when brothers and sisters inherit land from a parent.  This joint ownership of a piece of property is usually called a tenancy in common, with the owners themselves known as tenants in common , or co-tenants.
Settling Disputes Between Co-Tenants
Owning property with others may very well result in disputes about how the property should be …

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Frequently Asked Questions – Asset Protection

What is Asset-Protection Planning?
Asset-protection planning is about organizing your affairs so that the risks of possible future claims by third parties are properly managed and minimized. By organizing one’s affairs thoughtfully, a client can significantly reduce exposure to catastrophic claims.
Who is a typical asset protection client?
The typical asset protection client is a relatively high net-worth individual—oftentimes a business owner or physician—the nature of whose business or profession exposes them to significant, if rare, claims.
Will Asset Protection Planning protect me from claims of existing creditors?
Generally speaking, no.   You cannot shelter assets from the claims of existing creditors and, indeed, transfers to thwart creditor claims can be undone by the courts. (In the context of a bankruptcy filing, however, the Ohio exemptions …

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Fracking Bans and Eminent Domain

As shale drilling increases across the country, fracking bans do, too.  In New York, for example, more than 50 municipalities have issued moratoriums or even outright bans on fracking.  Many Ohio municipalities have followed suit.  A lawsuit addressing this issue is currently pending before the Ohio Supreme Court: Munroe Falls vs. Beck Energy.
Are municipal fracking bans legal?
This question is still being settled by Ohio courts.  We all know that municipalities are empowered to issue and enforce zoning laws that restrict the use of one’s property.  But does the power to zone also permit them to ban an industrial process like fracking?  This exact issue is before New York’s top court.  The issue is also present in Ohio: one state law …

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Free Gas Issues

Many oil and gas leases provide the lessor with free gas.  This provision was fairly common in older leases, but has disappeared to a large extent for newer leases tailored to shale gas wells.  Here is a list of frequently asked questions and concerns about landowners exercising their right to free gas under an oil and gas lease:
Who is entitled to free gas?
You may be entitled to free gas if the oil and gas lease affecting your land contains a free gas clause, and if no other houses already use it.  Read your lease carefully, and look for free gas language.  Before you call your gas company about free gas, check to be sure that neighboring houses aren’t already taking …

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