Are You A Parent Of A Recent Graduate?

If you are a parent of a recent high school graduate, congratulations! Before the confetti has cleared from your celebration you are probably already knee-deep preparing for your new graduate’s next steps. For many of you those next steps may include filling out financial-aid forms. If you have started that process and realize that you do not have copies of your tax returns, the IRS has a few tips to make that piece of the financial-aid puzzle a little easier. Visit: to learn more.

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JO Knows Homeowners Associations

Condominiums have homeowners associations (HOAs). But so do subdivisions and other developments that aren’t condos. Most HOAs are created according to a recorded document that’s filed when the subdivision is created. It’s usually called something like restrictive covenants, a declaration of covenants and restrictions, or the like. Let’s just call them covenants.

-Some covenants give the HOA the power to assess dues, file liens for non-payment, and collect attorneys’ fees if necessary. Some do not.

-Most covenants make HOA membership mandatory and give the HOA power to enforce things like approval of building additions, restrictions on operating a business, above-ground pools, fence-height limits, and various other prohibitions the developer thought were good ideas.

-Some HOAs plow streets and cut lawns. Some do not.

-Most HOAs hold annual elections for new directors and prepare annual budgets.

All these things depend on what the covenants actually say. We’ve written a lot of them. If you are a developer, we’ll help you write yours. If you’re on an HOA board, we’ll help you do your job.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14. Many people give cards, letters, candy, flowers, or presents to their spouse or significant other in celebration of romantic love. Common symbols of Valentine’s Day are hearts, red roses, and Cupid. Be Mine!

JO In Action – John Ford

Jones Obenchain partner John Ford and his wife Mary are avid golfers. They belong to Morris Park Country Club and can be found there most summer weekends. It was through their membership that they had the opportunity to work as volunteers on the 18th hole at the U.S. Senior Open held at the Warren Dunes course at Notre Dame last summer. John says of the experience: “They were long, hot days, but very much worth it for the chance to see so many great players up close. The organization of the event was pretty impressive.

JO Knows Business Management Consulting

This law firm has been representing local businesses for over a century. And we’ve learned a few things over the decades. Aside from legal knowledge and experience, we bring objectivity and a focus on problem solving to you. Chances are we’ve helped another client in the past with similar issues.

Problems with a customer or key employee? Issues with your bank? Deadlock in the boardroom? Looking for an exit strategy? Or a way to bring a son or daughter into a leadership position

Tell us about it.

Are You Part of the Gig Economy?

The “gig economy” refers to a workforce environment of short-term engagements, temporary contracts, and independent contracting. This may also be referred to as the on-demand, sharing, or access economy. Taxpayers who work in the gig economy need to understand how their work affects their taxes. Pre-Planning can help make sure gig-economy workers are prepared when tax time rolls around.

A tax tip from the IRS outlines the tax implications of gig economy income and provides options for the taxpayer. Visit: to learn more.

Meet Our JO Team

Jones Obenchain partner, John B. Ford, is a fourth-generation St. Joseph County attorney. Born and raised in South Bend, John attended John Adams High School and was an avid swimmer. John’s practice areas include general business, commercial and residential real estate, employment, construction, estate planning, and probate. Visit to get to know John better and to learn more about how he can help you and your business. Or better yet, look for him on the links at Morris Park, where you might find him and his wife, Mary, when the weather’s nice.

JO In Action: CASA Volunteer – Brian Gates

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child? Consider becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate like Jones Obenchain partner Brian Gates. Brian has been representing children’s best interests as a CASA since 2002, and now helps train other CASA volunteers by teaching them about the legal system. Find out more about the St. Joseph County CASA program by clicking here:, or visit the national CASA site:

Celebrate National Kazoo Day

People young and old (though mostly the young) love kazoos. Kazoo Day celebrates the joy people find in this musical instrument. Mr. Alabama Vest of Macon, Georgia, is credited with making the first kazoo in the 1840s. According to legend, Mr. Vest conceived the kazoo and had Thaddeus Von Clegg, a German clockmaster, make it to his specifications. Commercial production of the kazoo didn’t occur until many years later in 1912. Manufacturing was first started by Emil Sorg in Western New York. Sorg joined up with Michael McIntyre, a Buffalo tool–and–die maker. Production moved to Eden, NY, where the factory museum remains today. Kazoos are easy to play. Simply hum a tune into the kazoo, and you’re an expert. Kazoos can be played solo or in groups. It plays a great tune both ways. What does one do on National Kazoo day? Why, play the kazoo, of course.

JO Knows Guardian Ad Litem

A “Guardian ad litem” (GAL) is a person the court appoints to investigate what would be in the “best interests of a child.” Here, we are talking about a GAL in a divorce or parental-rights-and-responsibilities case, including paternity, delinquency, and abuse or neglect cases. The GAL will look into the family situation and advise the court about issues such as where the children should live most of the time, whether the child is being harmed by one parent’s alleged substance abuse, and what contact the child should have with the other parent. Jones Obenchain partner, Brian Gates, has extensive experience serving as a GAL and can answers your questions.

Protect Against Identity Theft

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about another scam that allows thieves to access personal data to steal the identities of unsuspecting people. There is a recent IRS Tax Tip that shares information about setting strong passwords and keeping that information secure. If you would like to learn more about please read: