Frequently Asked Questions

As you might imagine, there are certain questions that we hear often.

As a service to our web site visitors, we try to provide answers on this page for those questions of general interest.

If you think you have a general interest question, please contact us and let us know. It is possible that we might include the question and answer on this page.

  • Is a will necessary?
  • What do I need to do to avoid probate?
  • What things should be in my estate plan?
  • When is a trust necessary?
  • I was charged with a DUI and blew over the legal limit. Is there any reason why I should not simply plead guilty at my arraignment?
  • What is the difference between a divorce and dissolution?
  • How much is this going to cost?
  • How long is this going to take?
  • How long does a bankruptcy take?
Is a will necessary?

Answer: If you or a loved one dies without a will, the laws of descent and distribution will apply. A surviving spouse may get all or at least part of the estate, depending on children and other factors. If there is no surviving spouse, and no children, then the estate may be distributed to brothers and sisters, parents and so forth.
A will is indispensable, however, because you can name your own executor and have that executor serve without posting a bond – a big money saver. Additionally, a will is helpful to sell personal and real property without obtaining a court order.

What do I need to do to avoid probate?

Answer: You need to ask first why you want to avoid probate. Probate is not necessarily a bad thing and sometimes is less expensive than setting up a cumbersome trust and titling all of your property in the name of the trust. With a little bit of estate planning, for any income bracket, we can help you make your experience with probate less painful than you might think.

Typical ways to avoid probate may include placing the property in trust, or in joint survivorship, or transferring upon death. Talk with us so we can tailor a solution to fit your needs.

What things should be in my estate plan?

Answer: Everyone should have a testamentary will, a power of attorney, a durable power of health care attorney and a living will.

You should also check to be sure that real estate is not only in both names of husband and wife, but also in joint survivorship. There is the checklist we go through with you when we prepare your will.

When is a trust necessary?

Answer: Not as often as some attorneys would like you to believe. Trusts can be helpful to avoid or minimize federal estate tax (estates over $1.2 million), avoid probate, protect children who can’t handle money very well, and provide for children with disabilities (special needs trusts).

Be careful of flim flam services trying to sell you a trust. Make sure you are dealing with a licensed attorney who can explain how the trust will save you money or otherwise benefit you, and make sure that the assets you want in the trust are actually titled in the name of the trust.

I was charged with a DUI

…and blew over the legal limit. Is there any reason why I should not simply plead guilty at my arraignment?

Answer: In any criminal case, it’s always best to talk with an attorney first to make sure the State can prove the elements of the crime charged and to determine any defenses which would exonerate or reduce the crime charged.

A DUI arrest must be based on a probable cause stop and the breath test must be administered in accordance with a series of state standards in order to be introduced into evidence. It pays to check it out.

What is the difference between a divorce and dissolution?

Answer: A dissolution is a termination of a marriage where both parties file with the court a petition for dissolution and a separation agreement/shared parenting plan. It is based on an agreement, and it is beneficial because it is based on an agreement. It is less stressful for parents and children alike, and you can save a lot of money.

A divorce is filed as a contested action and can end up with a trial to the court, although many of these resolve themselves by agreement.

If you can reach an agreement for a dissolution, you need to address these factors:

  • Custody of children
  • Child support
  • Tax exemptions
  • Medical care
  • Division of real estate and personal property
  • Division of personal property
  • Division of debts

Remember that a spouse has a right to one half of the other spouse’s pension that accrued during the divorce. Spousal support.

How much is this going to cost?

Answer: It is difficult in some cases to provide you with an accurate estimate of the costs you might encounter, particularly in contested divorces and other litigation. Retainers for these situations vary, anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 and are based on an hourly rate of $200/hour. There may also be filing fees that will need to be paid on top of the retainer. Please call our office to obtain a retainer quote that best fits your individual situation.

How long is this going to take?

Answer: Your case is important to us, and we want to help you get through any litigation as quickly as possible, but the more complex the litigation, and the more attorneys, experts and details to nail down, the greater the chance that your case can drag out.

Contested divorces and other litigation can last for more than a year, and some have gone on for much longer.

Not to beat a dead horse, but -again- it is almost always in everyone’s best interest to discuss and resolve issues prior to trial.

How long does a bankruptcy take?

Answer: Chapter 13 cases take from 36 to 60 months to complete from the date of filing. How quickly we can file depends on how quickly you provide us with the information necessary to put the repayment plan and petition together, and how quickly you take the necessary steps to complete your required classes.

Chapter 7 cases can take three to five weeks to file, depending again on how quickly you provide us with information necessary to file. Once filed, there is a creditors meeting scheduled within 4-6 weeks and discharge after another 4-6 weeks.

It is not uncommon in chapter 7 or chapter 13 to run into unanticipated issues which may delay the process.

Contact Our Office

To schedule a consultation with our attorneys, call us at 440-576-9155 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Our Jefferson office is conveniently located right across the street from the Ashtabula County Courthouse.