Category: Firm News

National Sugar Cookie Day

National Sugar Cookie Day falls on July 9 each year. Sugar cookies are classic and unbelievably delicious. Originating back in the 1700’s in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, sugar cookies were initially referred to as Nazareth cookies. A couple-hundred years later, traditional sugar cookies are now a treasured staple in many households. Sugar cookies are a popular treat for numerous different occasions, including Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and birthdays. Treat yourself to a sugar cookie today to celebrate!

Meet Our JO Team

Jones Obenchain Partner, Tom Vetne, enjoys challenging his clients’ preconceived notions of who lawyers are and what lawyers do. Tom focuses his practice on litigation and appeals. Unlike other “trial” lawyers, though, Tom actually tries cases. Get to know Tom better and realize what he can do for you by visiting http://jonesobenchain.com/team-member/j-thomas-vetne/

Happy July 4th Weekend

America’s first Continental Congress voted to declare America’s independence from the British monarchy on July 2, 1776, and the Declaration was ratified two days later. The Declaration was published in newspapers and read to the public on July 4th. The attorneys and staff of Jones Obenchain wish you and yours a safe and Happy Independence Day!

JO In Action – Janet Horvath

Jones Obenchain partner, Janet Horvath believes in serving her community. One of ways in which Janet gives back is by serving on the Board of Directors of REAL Services.

 The Mission of REAL Services is to assist in establishing a community in which those they serve can maintain their independence to the maximum degree possible and find meaning and satisfaction throughout their lives.

To learn more about REAL Services, the services they provide and volunteer opportunities, please visit https://www.realservices.org/_wp/

JO Knows Probate

Probate is the process by which a court oversees the lawful transfer of title to property under a will. It must take place in the state and county where the decedent resided when they died. Probate does not involve non-probate assets, such as life-insurance or retirement-account proceeds passing to designated beneficiaries; property owned by trusts on the date of death; or jointly owned property when the first joint owner dies. So married couples that have joint title to most of their property rarely need probate after the first spouse’s death.

The word “probate” often engenders fear. But probate is not a scary process. The court is there to oversee the job your personal representative does and to make sure the instructions in your will are followed. Your lawful debts will (and must) be paid. Your heirs have comfort in knowing that the court will hear them if they have questions or objections. And probate is not unduly lengthy; usually six months or so is enough to wrap things up. And it is not a great expense. In fact, many people will spend more money trying to “avoid probate” than probate actually costs.

While placing an asset (like an investment account or a vacation home) in a trust will avoid probating that asset, it is almost impossible—and probably foolish—to try to make everything you own a non-probate asset. Under Indiana law this is unnecessary, because no probate estate need be opened if the value of the probate assets is less than $50,000. So you don’t need to put your refrigerator, lawn mower, golf clubs, or clothing into a trust.

Rather than probate avoidance, a better goal is probate management. Monitor the way your assets are owned. Create joint ownerships, designate beneficiaries, and use a trust in sensible ways. But don’t go overboard. For example, while making cash gifts to children and grandchildren can have many benefits, be sure that you keep enough resources available to provide for your own care and comfort.

National Work From Home Day

On the last Thursday in June each year we celebrate National Work From Home Day. This year it is on June 25. It is a chance to recognize the technological and cultural evolutions that allow us to be as productive anywhere in the world as we are in the office.

 For years, working at home has been the purview of certain types of jobs, or saved as a bonus to reward employees while the rest of us battled with the daily commute. Now, however, the tools exist so that nearly any office job can be done at home without a loss of productivity.

2020 has been the ultimate test of this technology and we have seen the resilience and ingenuity of those who had to work from home for several months. Today, we celebrate those achievements and applaud all those who kept things moving from their home offices. 

JO Knows Wills

A will is a written instrument that specifies how a person’s property is distributed when they die and names a personal representative (or executor) to carry out those instructions. If a will is valid according to the state where it is signed, it will be recognized as valid in the state where it is probated. Probate, which is simply the process by which a court oversees the lawful transfer of title to property according to the will, must take place in the state and county where the decedent resided when they died.

A will only governs property that a person owns in their own name and that does not have a designated beneficiary. In other words, jointly owned property passes to the surviving joint owner when the first joint owner dies, regardless of what the will says. Likewise, the designated beneficiary of a retirement account or life-insurance policy will receive the funds even if the will says otherwise. The same is true with corporate stock that is subject to a buy-sell agreement. Property governed by a will is generally referred to as “probate assets” and property not governed by a will as “non-probate assets.”

While there is a default law that provides what happens to probate assets if you die without a will (for example, for a married couple with more than one child, 1/3 goes to the spouse and 2/3 is divided among the children), most people are better off having a will.

Wills are necessary to transfer ownership of probate assets if you want to do that differently than the default law; make specific gifts to individuals or charities; nominate a guardian for minor children; or transfer property to trusts that wasn’t placed in one during your life.

Be very careful about using free or inexpensive online forms. There is no substitute for personal advice from an experienced professional, and there is always a risk that you will omit something important. For example, wills in Indiana must be witnes­sed (not notarized) by two “disinterested” persons. That means a will’s beneficiary is ineligible as a witness.

Jones Obenchain’s lawyers have been drafting wills for decades. If you have a question about a will, call us.

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is one of the world’s oldest celebrations commemorating slavery’s abolition. In the U.S., it is celebrated on June 19. While this holiday isn’t an official government holiday in any U.S state, it is recognized as a ceremonial observance in roughly half of them.

Although President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, slavery didn’t end in Texas because there weren’t enough Union soldiers there to enforce the order. But on June 19th, 1865, Major General Granger read General Order Number 3 to the people of Texas. The order stated: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

Juneteenth is celebrated in a variety of different ways. One of the most traditional ways to celebrate it is by having a BBQ. Meats such as pork and beef are often cooked up and sometimes it is served with strawberry pop.

JO Knows Entity Formation

An “S” corporation or a “C” corporation? A limited-liability company (LLC)? A partnership or limited partnership? You probably need to use one of these types of entities for your business, but which one and how do you set it up correctly?

These are important questions and the answers aren’t the same for everyone. And once that choice is made some very important issues must be addressed:

-If there is more than one owner, what are their respective ownership, profit-sharing, and voting rights?


-How are disputes between them solved?


-What if one of them wants to quit, or bring in their spouse or child?


– Or what if they die? How is the value of their interest determined?

Again, the answers aren’t the same for everyone. Don’t make the mistake of using the same buy-sell agreements, shareholder agreement, LLC operating agreement, or partnership agreement that someone else did without making sure that all of these issues—and there are probably others—are properly considered for you own unique situation.

The work doesn’t stop there. Do you need a lease? Employment contracts or a policy manual? Licenses? Referral to an accountant for tax or payroll advice? JO can help.

Tax Day Approaches

In the United States, “tax day” is a colloquial term for the day on which individual income-tax returns are due to the IRS. The term may also refer to the day state income tax returns are due, even when the tax return due date falls on a different day. Since 1955, for those living in the United States tax day has typically fallen on April 15th . But this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tax deadline has been extended to July 15th. If you are preparing you taxes to meet the July deadline, this IRS publication found at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/answers-to-tax-questions-are-just-a-few-clicks-away-on-irsgov may help. This tax tip includes tools to help people file and pay taxes, find information about their account, and get answers to tax questions.