Trust Lawyer Baron Law Cleveland Ohio

How To Use An Ohio Legacy Trust To Protect Family Assets

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can. For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your assets for your heirs and not hand them over to the government by way of taxes.

If you have a trust more than eight years old, chances are you were not able to take advantage of an Ohio Legacy Trust. In March of 2013, Ohio became the fifteenth state to allow the use of domestic asset protections trusts, also known as Ohio Legacy Trusts. Legacy trusts are extremely useful in high-risk ventures or occupations such as doctors, entrepreneurs, real estate inventors, and venture capitalists. Legacy trusts give unprecedented control to trust makers and far reaching asset protection. Legacy trusts, however, are not the end all be all. Considering legacy trusts are still relatively new on the Ohio scene, no one can say for certain their permanent place in Ohio estate planning. Further, because the advantages with Ohio legacy trusts are so extreme, the legal hurdles and requirements are, correspondingly, stricter. As such, call your local Cleveland estate planning attorney and see if taking advantage of this relatively new estate planning vehicle is right for you and your goals.

I. What is an Ohio Legacy Trust?

Before 2013, in Ohio, the law was that you could not create a trust for yourself, fund it with your own money, name yourself as a beneficiary, and protect assets within the trust from creditors. Now, however, Ohio law allows a settlor to make an irrevocable trust for the purpose of protecting assets from creditors all the while naming themselves a discretionary beneficiary. Further, other beneficiaries, such as a spouse, children and charities, can also be named. If this sounds powerful to you, that’s because it is.

The main wrinkles with Ohio Legacy Trusts is that a third party, such as a bank or CPA, must be appointed trustee and valid creditors have a statutory opportunity to bring valid creditor claims before the asset protection kicks in. The Ohio Legacy Trust Act states that if 18 months have passed since forming the legacy trust, all future creditors, with some exceptions, that are not yet known will be foreclosed from getting trust assets via a lawsuit. Thus, an Ohio Legacy Trust is not an absolute protection against current creditors, but it does protect against almost all future creditors with respect to the assets placed in trust.

II. Why are Ohio Legacy Trusts used?

Aside from the previously mentioned asset protection, Ohio Legacy Trusts also give trust makers an extraordinary amount of control over trust assets and ability to effect trust management. Makers of Ohio Legacy Trusts can be both the creator and beneficiary and reserve for themselves numerous rights regarding the trust. Trust makers can reserve the following rights for themselves:

The right to receive income and principal from the trust in the trustee’s discretion. For example, the legacy trust could provide that all income is distributed to the beneficiary maker on a regular basis or that the beneficiary maker receives a fixed percentage of trust assets.

The right to withdraw up to 5% of the trust principal each year.

The power to veto a distribution from the trust.

Certain rights to control how trust property will pass to other beneficiaries after the trust maker’s death.

The right to remove and replace trustees and other trust advisors.

The right to occupy real estate and use tangible personal property held as part of the trust assets.

The right to distributions to pay taxes on income generated by the trust, or an interest in receiving such tax distributions in the discretion of the trustee.

The right to serve as investment advisor to the trustee.

III. What are the Requirements of an Ohio Legacy Trust?

In a nutshell, an Ohio legacy trust must have the following characteristics:

1) The trustee must reside in Ohio or be an Ohio entity authorized to do business in Ohio.

2) The trust must be irrevocable.

3) The settlor, i.e. trust maker, must draft and execute an affidavit of solvency, sometimes called an affidavit of disposition, swearing the following:

* The assets to be used to fund the trust are not from illegal activity,

* The settlor is the rightful owner of the assets,

* The settlor does not intend to file for bankruptcy,

* The settlor is not a party of any unidentified court or administrative proceedings,

* The settlor will not be rendered insolvent after the contemplated assets are used to fund the trust, and

* The settlor is not transferring assets to the trust with the intent to defraud creditors.

IV. What can an Ohio Legacy Trust not do?

Though the powers of Ohio Legacy Trusts are expansive, they are not without limitation. An Ohio Legacy Trust cannot be used with the intent to defraud creditors. Further, it is a hard rule in Ohio law that these trusts do not protect against child support and alimony support claims. Furthermore, a settlor cannot make themselves insolvent while funding the trust and the trust cannot give a settlor the power to revoke the trust. Also, being that Ohio Legacy Trusts are grantor trusts, the settlor is responsible for paying income tax on all money generated by the trust.

Ohio Legacy Trusts are a great new tool to utilize for the right estate planner, but their use is not without risk. Assets placed in trust are no longer in the settlor’s direct control and it is no guarantee that these trusts will be recognized in other states. The biggest drawback is that Ohio Legacy Trusts only protect against future creditors, not current ones. That said, Ohio Legacy Trusts are an option that should be explored by anyone looking to protect their assets and increase the longevity of such assets. Contact an experienced Cleveland estate planning attorney and find out more about these trusts and how they can work for you.

Helping You And Your Loved Ones Plan For The Future


About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is an attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Baron Law Cleveland Ohio

What Are Choice Of Law Provisions And Why Do They Matter?

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can. For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your […]

Baron Law Cleveland Ohio

How Do I Force A Trustee To Tell Me What’s In A Trust?

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can.  For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your assets for your heirs and not hand them over to the government by way of taxes.

Trusts are one of the most useful tools in the estate planning tool box. Special needs trusts ensure vulnerable children and beneficiaries can receive bequests or inheritances without being knocked off of critical state and federal benefits while a simple family trust can guarantee income and assets placed within it last for generations and are, for the most part, protected from creditors and litigants. The lynchpin of any trust, however, besides the trust documents themselves, is the trustee. The agent in charge of managing trust assets and carrying out trust instructions.

A lot of faith and trust are placed within trustees. Unfortunately, not all trustees are up to the task and some even use their position for ill gain. Some trustees are lazy, some are disinterested. Other trustees are combative, others are downright criminals. Trustees come in all types. The process for removing a trustee, seeking civil or criminal action against a trustee, or simply finding out what a trustee knows all start at the same spot. A trust beneficiary, or other interested party, must force a trustee to tell them what they know and Ohio law has provided a process to do just that. The process is called a petition to compel an accounting or sometimes a citation to a fiduciary to file an account.

This process, naturally, is often the route of last resort when something has gone horribly wrong with a trustee or fiduciary. For example, failure of an executor to file a notice of admission for will to probate, or a failure render an account of an executor’s or administrator’s estate administration, or failure to file the first estate accounting within the 3-month time limit without good cause shown. Basically, citations to compel accounting are used when those entrusted to look after the money don’t follow the rules or tell anybody what they are doing. Again, getting a probate court involved with a difficult or non-responsive fiduciary should always be a last resort. As such, always consult an experienced Cleveland estate planning attorney to find out your best course of action in the circumstances.

How do I compel a trustee accounting?

Generally, to get a court to do anything, there has to be statutory language on the books that give you the authority/right to do something. Ohio law provides that particular qualified people can petition the court to force a fiduciary or trustee to appear and tell what they know and bring evidence to back it up.

“If a fiduciary neglects or refuses to file an account, inventory, certificate of notice of probate of will, or report when due,… the court at its own instance may issue, and on the application of any interested party or of any of the next of kin of any ward shall issue, a citation … to such fiduciary …. to compel the filing of the overdue account, inventory, certificate of notice of probate of will, or report.” O.R.C. § 2109.31(A).

What does a citation for accounting contain?

The citation or motion to compel is a legal document filed with a particular probate court that asks the court to use its authority to force a fiduciary or trustee to appear at a certain time in a certain place or face the consequences. Ohio law specifies that such a request must be a proper form so the court knows exactly what you’re asking the court to do and so the trustee or fiduciary knows exacts what to do to satisfy the court’s request and avoid any adverse consequences. So, what information does your request actually need to contain. Per O.R.C. § 2109.31(B):

(1) A statement that the particular account, inventory, certificate of notice of probate of will, or report is overdue;

(2) An order to the fiduciary to file the account, inventory, certificate of notice of probate of will, or report, or otherwise to appear before the court on a specified date;

(3) A statement that, upon the issuance of the citation, a continuance to file the account, inventory, certificate of notice of probate of will, or report may be obtained from the court only on or after the date specified…

A motion to compel accounting is a particular legal document that should be prepared by a licensed attorney. Nonconformity with the state and local rules of form and filing can waste a lot of time and money and frustrate a judge and their support staff, not ideal when your asking for the court’s help. Hiring a knowledgeable Ohio estate planning attorney will ensure your filing is accepted and in proper order.

What if a trustee doesn’t appear?

If a citation to compel accounting is issue from a probate and a fiduciary or trustee fails to file the requested documents or personally report prior to the appearance date specified in the citation, a probate court may resort to one or more of the following:

The removal of the fiduciary or trustee;

A denial of all or part of the fiduciary fees;

A continuance of the time for filing the requested documents;

An assessment against the fiduciary of a penalty of one hundred dollars and costs of twenty-five dollars for the hearing, or a suspension of all or part of the penalty and costs; or

That the fiduciary is in contempt of the court for the failure to comply with the citation and that a specified daily fine, imprisonment, or daily fine and imprisonment may be imposed against the fiduciary, beginning with the appearance date, until the account, inventory, certificate of notice of probate of will, or report is filed with the court;

Furthermore, if a fiduciary or trustee fails to appear in court on the specified date on the citation, a probate court can even go as far as ordering them to be taken into custody by a sheriff and forcibly brought to court.

The potential consequences facing non-compliant fiduciaries are severe, however, utilizing the court should only be used in extreme circumstances or as a last resort. As such, consult experienced Cleveland estate planning attorney before doing anything so serious. Doing so will ensure that the process is done correctly and expediently.

Helping You And Your Loved Ones Plan For The Future

About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.


Baron Law Cleveland Ohio

DBA What Does It Stand For And Does My Business Need One?

Cleveland, Ohio, business law firm, Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, answers questions on what a DBA (aka “Doing Business As”) is and should you set your business up in this manner. For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to schedule an appointment to discuss the different ways you could set up your business and what would be most beneficial to you. 

I recently sat down with an immigrant from Africa who said one of the amazing things about America is that anyone can run a business doing anything. We likely take it for granted that the industrious and entrepreneurial here can chase their dreams while in other places such freedom to pursue economic endeavors is lacking. This freedom to create and operate your own business, however, is not the wild west. With freedom comes the opportunity for malicious or incompetent business practices, just ask anyone unfortunate enough to employ a shady auto mechanic, landscaper, or financial planner. That’s why to protect the public, lay down some semblance of order, and make ways to address misconduct and grievances, Ohio law has rules on how businesses can be run. These rules are partially why starting up a business is such a complex process with a lot of moving pieces and paperwork. Thus, retaining an experienced Ohio business attorney will ensure the proper foundation is set so your business can succeed and grow.

DBAs, i.e. doing business as, sometimes referred to as Fictitious Business Names or Assumed Business Names, are a product of consumer protection laws. Naturally, with the ability of anyone to make a business and also operate under a business name, often people don’t know who they are actually working with or who they hired. The potential for confusion and pseudo-anonymity with small businesses leads to risks for consumers. Namely, the inability to pursue legal remedies for misconduct simply because they don’t know the identity of who to complain about or who is ultimately liable. This is why Ohio law incentivizes the use of DBAs and business registration for small business and punishes those who don’t

Trade name v. Fictious Name

In the legal world minor details often have big outcomes regarding procedure, responsibility, and liability. Whether you’re operating under a trade name or fictitious name can make a big difference. Under Ohio law a trade name means a name used in business or trade to designate the business of the use and to which the use asserts a right to exclusive use. You file with the Ohio Secretary of State to reserve your trade name so no other business can use it or claim it as their own.

Fictitious names, on the other hand, means a name used in business or trade that is fictitious and that the user has not registered or is not entitled to register as a trade name. These are not required to be distinguishable from the records of any other previously registered name and provide no protection or ownership of the name. Facially, the differences between trade and fictitious names appear simple, but the consequences for not having either can be dire for business owners. Talk with a local Cleveland area business attorney to find out the how and why about the different methods of business registration.

Operating without a trade or fictitious name

In Ohio no person doing business under a trade name or fictitious name shall commence or maintain an action in the trade name or fictitious name in any court in this state or on account of any contracts made or transactions had in the trade name or fictitious name until it has first complied with Ohio law. See O.R.C. § 1329.10 (B). What this means for those operating without filing a DBA or a trade name is that these business owners are prevented from suing or counter-suing in the name of their business until the filing requirements are satisfied.

In the real world this means those operating without registered names can’t sue on delinquent debts, can’t sue over contracts entered into on behalf of the business, and can’t raise counterclaims in defense if the business is ever a defendant in a legal proceeding. This is the carrot and stick of Ohio law. If you prefer to operate without a registered business name, leading to potential customer confusion and greater chance for misconduct, than you aren’t allowed to fully exercise the legal rights of your business. Granted, though registration compliance allows retroactive enforcement of business rights, the time wasted recognizing, fixing, then filing upon newly reinstated rights can be crippling within a litigation context. Time wasted properly filing a DBA or trade name can mean the passing of a statute of limitations, missing a discovery cut-off, and/or the relinquishment of affirmative defenses. This is why finding and working with an Ohio business attorney when you’re starting a business or facing significant business growth is so important. I hear it time and time again from small business owners, “I wish someone would have told me that.”

How to file a trade, fictitious name, or DBA

The filings are relatively straightforward. You can use the forms provided on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website and file a trade name registration or report the use of a fictitious name. DBA’s, however, are not filings recognized by the Ohio Secretary of State. The use of trade names or reporting of fictitious names are similar to how DBA’s operate and largely accomplish the same purpose.

The devil is always in the details. Small business owners know the struggles of being pulled in a thousand directions at once and operating with a full schedule every work day. The last thing you need on your plate is dealing with complex legal issues that could have been, and should have been, addressed when your business was being created. A few filings and minor filing fees afford your business a lot more legal protection than most people realize. Hopefully, your business runs without a hitch and you never have to lean on these protections. For those business owners not so lucky, however, the legal protections which come from filing properly and being compliant with Ohio law can mean the difference between business longevity and filing for bankruptcy.

About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.


A Trust Unfunded Is Just Paper And Ink, The Importance Of Funding Your Trust,

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can.  For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your […]

Baron Law Cleveland Ohio

T.O.D. Designations – What Are They?

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can.  For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your assets for your heirs and not hand them over to the government by way of taxes.

One of the more common topics posed to Ohio estate attorneys always concerns how to avoid probate and the accompanying costs of going through a probate administration. Namely, can an individual transfer property, particularly a martial home, and avoid probate without using more intensive estate planning tools? In many situations trusts afford more control and security over estate assets but for smaller estates, T.O.D. designations can fill a critical role and affording surviving family members partial peace of mind when a loved one passes. Talk to a local Ohio estate attorney to find out if a trust-based strategy or hybrid trust/T.O.D. plan would work best for your situation.  

What is a T.O.D. designation? 

At the most basic level, transfer on death “T.O.D.” designations are a way to transfer real and certain personal property to named beneficiates at the moment of death. The law construes the transfer as occurring just prior to death so the property is conveyed independent from the probate process. Thus, if the property isn’t a part of the probate estate, it normally isn’t subject to all the claims and debts of the decedent’s estate.  

T.O.D. designations are usually seen with bank accounts, real estate, and automobiles and, as such, the processes for using T.O.D.’s for these types of property are well established. Which is good, because usually these types of assets represent the lions share of an estate. Contract a Cleveland area attorney to find out if, and how, T.O.D. designations can be used to save you thousands in estate fees and administration costs.  

Why would I use a T.O.D. designation? 

As previously stated, the major benefit of using a T.O.D. is probate avoidance. Thus, the property usually isn’t subject to debts and creditors of the estate and the property isn’t tied up for months while the affairs and accounting of the estate are concluded. Most, if not all, beneficiaries and heirs want their property as soon as possible.  

It is important to note, however, that a T.O.D. designation has no effect on the present ownership of the associated property and any beneficiary of a T.O.D. has no rights or interest in the property during the owner’s lifetime.  

The owner of the T.O.D. designation can change or revoke such designation at any time by executing and filing/recording a new designation. A T.O.D. transfer, however, does not eliminate the need to pay applicable federal estate taxes. Further, beneficiaries of a T.O.D. should be aware of the tax consequences of accepting a T.O.D bequest. Contacting a knowledgeable Ohio probate attorney can appraise you of any unforeseen tax liabilities.  

How to do I do a T.O.D. designation? 

For Land: 

Per O.R.C. § 5302.222, “The transfer of a deceased owner’s real property or interest in real property as designated in a transfer on death designation affidavit…shall be recorded by presenting to the county auditor of the county in which the real property is located and filing with the county recorder of that county an affidavit of confirmation executed by any transfer on death beneficiary to whom the transfer is made. The affidavit of confirmation shall be verified before a person authorized to administer oaths and shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the death certificate for the deceased owner.” 

In normal language, fill out, sign, notarize, and record the T.O.D. affidavit with the desired number of beneficiary designations then fill with a county recorder in the county where the property is located. There is no limit to the amount of primary and contingent beneficiaries you can put on a T.O.D. affidavit. Naturally, the more you put, the less proportion each will receive, and type of tenancy conveyed, and primacy of conveyance can all be specified as well and is dependent on the type of beneficiary status and land interest conveyed. For example, if you put that beneficiaries take as joint tenants, all beneficiaries will have rights to the whole by virtue of being joint tenants, regardless if the affidavit further specifies proportional bequests.  

Model T.O.D. affidavits can be found online and on such forms, there is a predetermined section in which you can add any number of beneficiaries, respective ownership proportion, and type of ownership. However, in the absence of tenancy specification, named T.O.D. beneficiaries take as tenants in common. Per § O.R.C. 5302.23 (B)(1), “If there is a designation of more than one transfer on death beneficiary, the beneficiaries shall take title to the interest in equal shares as tenants in common, unless the deceased owner has specifically designated other than equal shares or has designated that the beneficiaries take title as survivorship tenants, subject to division (B)(3) of this section. A tenancy in common presents different issues regarding survivorship and concurrent ownership. Contact a local Ohio estate attorney to find out what type of tenancy fits bests for your property and family situation.   

For Cars:s: 

The Ohio BMV has its own process for T.O.D. designations. Individuals who are the sole owner of a motor vehicle, watercraft, or outboard motor can elect to designate one or more beneficiaries to an Ohio title. To do so, the owner fills out, signs, notarizes BMV form 3811, Affidavit to Designate a Beneficiary, then files such with the county title office where the vehicle is located. Beneficiaries can be individuals, corporations, organizations, trusts, or other legal entities. After the form is properly filed and accepted, a new title is issued with the T.O.D. designation on record. An Ohio estate attorney can assist you in gathering the required forms and documents and make sure the are filled out and filed properly.      

To effectuate a T.O.D. transfer, the designated beneficiary brings to the title office, of the county in which the vehicle is located, the Ohio title, a certified copy of the death certificate, BMV form 3774, government-issued identification card, and adequate payment for title fees.   

T.O.D. designations are becoming a more popular tool in estate planning to save on estate administrating costs and simplify one’s estate. Granted, T.O.D. may potentially save on costs, however, they afford no protection against creditors and debts during the lifetime of the owner and afford no control after the death. Using T.O.D.’s may seem simple, however, in application transferring significant assets seldom ever is. A knowledgeable Ohio estate attorney is in the best position to advise on the costs and benefits of using T.O.D.’s in an estate plan.  

You don’t have to be rich to protect what you’ve spent a lifetime trying to build. To find out whether a trust is right for your family, take the one-minute questionnaire at www.DoIneedaTrust.com. There are a number of different trusts available and the choices are infinite. With every scenario, careful consideration of every trust planning strategy should be considered for the maximum asset protection and tax savings. For more information, you can contact Mike Benjamin of Baron Law LLC at 216-573-3723. Baron Law LLC is a Cleveland, Ohio area law firm focusing on estate planning and elder law. Mike can also be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com 

Helping You And Your Loved Ones Prepare For The Future

About the author:

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.   

 

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.


Baron Law Cleveland

I’m A Landlord, How Do I Evict A Tenant?

 

Being a landlord of a rental property can be a mixed blessing. The property itself is usually an appreciating asset and a predictable income stream if a proper tenant can be found. The last part is key, if a proper, responsible tenant who pays on time and in the full amount can be found. Unfortunately, good tenants are hard to come by nowadays. Landlords have to deal with non-payment issues, property damage, surprise lease breaches and moveouts, and theft. Often, in response to these issues, a landlord must resort to eviction.

Eviction is something a lot of people know about, but not many know the details. In a nut shell, eviction is a legal procedure in which a landlord petitions a local court to forcibly remove a tenant. An eviction is a lawsuit, just like any other, and must be supported by legitimate purposes and follow set rules and procedures. These rules and procedures protect tenants from landlord misconduct but also protect landlords by settling the majority of potential claims by disgruntled tenants. Evictions aren’t the quick solution to difficult tenants that most landlords want, however, an eviction set-out supported by a court order under bailiff supervision makes the whole ordeal much easier. Before undertaking any eviction proceeding, always consult a local Cleveland business attorney to make sure you have a supportable basis for eviction and make sure your position is clear from any potential landlord liability. The last thing you want is to trigger an eviction but get counter-sued for money damages.

The Eviction Process: Step-by-Step

Understanding the basic composition of how an eviction works is the first step in using to solve problems with unruly tenants or defend against landlord misconduct. The following is largely based on the practices and procedures of the Cleveland Housing Court. Other jurisdictions and municipalities have their own ways of doing evictions, but this generally approximates the standards that most courts will adhere to.

Step 1 – 30-day Notice

Usually the first step to starting an eviction is posting a 30-day notice on the tenant’s door. The “30 days” equates to the length of the tenancy term of the tenant you want to evict. Thus, if it was a weekly tenancy it would be a 7-day notice instead of a 30-day. This notice serves to inform the tenant that this is the last term of the tenancy and that you will be terminating it after this period. You can just immediately kick out a tenant that same day because the tenant has contractual rights under the terms of the tenancy contract to stay there for the term he paid for. So, if you did kick them out immediately, you would be in breach of the rental agreement and your tenant could countersue.

Step 2 – 3-day Notice

The next step is to post a 3-day notice of vacate on tenant’s door. This informs the tenant that they need to leave in three days or eviction proceedings will be utilized. The 3-day clock starts to run the day after posting the notice, weekends and holidays don’t count. This, and the 30-day notice, must be completed before an eviction complaint can be filed. These notices are standardized and are found on most, if not all, municipal and housing court websites. The point of these notices are largely to provide the tenant the opportunity to avoid going to court. Court dockets are already full with evictions and these courts want to avoid adding more if it can be helped.

Step 3 – File an Eviction Complaint

After the notices are posted, an eviction complaint, also called a Forcible Entry and Detainer Action (FED), can be filed in the appropriate municipal or housing court. A legitimate basis for any FED action must be pled in the initial complaint, usually lack of color of title or non-payment of rent. Pursuing an eviction is just like any other civil suit, except since so many occur every year, the process is standardized for the most part. A complaint is drafted by a competent Ohio business attorney, the court sets a date for hearing and sends out service of process to the tenant, then an eviction hearing is set and occurs. Usually the earliest a date for hearing can be set in Cleveland housing court is 21 days from filing, this also depends on the docket volume and preference of the court.

Now after receiving service of process, either the tenant files an answer to the complaint then attends the hearing, they file nothing and attend, or they don’t even show up. How the tenant responds critically affects how the eviction must proceed, which is why it is smart to get an experienced Cleveland business attorney to represent you.

Step 4 – Set-Out

Now after the hearing and if the landlord gets a favorable ruling, the landlord now can purchase a writ of restitution, i.e. the red tag. This denotes the landlord went through the eviction process, a judge ruled in his favor and entered judgment, and the landlord now has legal standing to physically remove the tenant from the premises. The landlord usually must pay a small court cost to get the red tag, usually around 35-50 dollars. This must be purchased within 60 days of judgment. After purchase, the move out must occur within 10 days. The red tag is put on the property, usually within 2-3 days dependent on bailiff’s schedule, and the tenant has around 5 days to get out.

Before set out occurs, most experienced Cleveland attorneys recommend the landlord inspects the property to guard against wanton property destruction, theft, or frivolous tenant claims. Also, makes sure to take pictures and post a proper 24-hour before landlord entry and inspection.

Evictions are part of the job when it comes to being a landlord. Not every tenant is honest or financially responsible, thus, rental agreements are broken and people must be removed. Personally litigating an eviction is time-consuming, stressful, and sometimes confusing. Retaining experienced Cleveland business attorneys to take care of it for you is never something landlords regret.

About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

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