Michele A. Smith   Attorney at Law
Michele A Smith Esquire

Phone 419 502 2002
FAX  419 502 2004




1604 E Perkins Avenue
Suite 202
Sandusky, Ohio  44870


Michele A. Smith Law Office, L.L.C.

Meeting your legal needs

PROBATE 

Estate Planning

While you're living and healthy you value being able to make your own decisions about your finances, property, health care, and raising your children. Should become incapacitated or die you hope others will handle these matters for you according to your wishes.

The only way to assure that will happen is through estate planning. This process involves weighing various personal and financial decisions and creating legal arrangements to carry out those decisions.

Estate planning is essential for all individuals to limit estate taxes and to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death.   A key component to estate planning is having a Will, which is sometimes called a “Last Will and Testament”.  The Last Will and Testament is used to transfer property you hold in your name to the person(s) and/or organization(s) you want to have it and specifies the Executor(s) and the nominated Guardians should you pass away leaving minor children.    A Will only becomes effective upon your death and after it is admitted to probate.

Other tools that are helpful in estate planning include  trusts, insurance policies, joint and survivor deeds, and transfer on death deeds to reduce estate-tax liability.

Our office can also prepare Power of Attorney documents to assist you in handling your affairs in the event you are unable or unwilling to handle the matters on your own.   The Power of Attorney documents include Financial Power of Attorney, Real Estate Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.  

Please contact our office at 419-502-2002 to schedule an estate planning appointment to ensure that your wishes are carried out, and your family is properly protected, in the event of your incapacity or death.

Probating of Estates

Upon an individual passing away typically their estate will need to be probated whether or not the individual left a Last Will and Testament.  A common misconception is that by not having a Will, or by having a Will, an individual will avoid their estate from being probated.  This is not the case if there is property which needs to be transferred to others  or there are outstanding bills to be paid. 

In the event of your death, our office will assist your family members in a personal, professional, and efficient manner in handling the probating of your estate.

Other Probate Matters

In addition to handling the probating of estates, our office handles other probate matters, including Guardianships, Adoption, and Name Changes.  Please call our office at 419-502-2002 for details.

FAMILY LAW

Family law practice encompasses a wide variety of matters, including termination of marriage whether by divorce or dissolution, child custody matters, visitation rights, child support and spousal support payments, paternity issues,  and property rights.   Our office can also prepare a  Prenupital Agreement, also called Antinupital Agreement, for you prior to marriage to ensure that your,  and your partner’s,  property rights are protected.

When proceeding on a Family Law matter, keep these simple rules in mind:

  • Hire a lawyer you can trust. Remember, this person should make you feel comfortable and should look after your interests.
  • Gather together to give to your attorney copies of all your financial records including tax returns, pay stubs, and investments. Keep these documents together and make sure you keep copies for your own records.
  • Gather together to give to your attorney copies of any documents relating to ownership of property and personal belongings including deeds and titles for any houses, land, cars, boats, or other vehicles.
  • Discuss with your attorney the timeline of what has to happen when and make sure you keep a running calendar of important dates and documents or appearances that are required of you.
  • Open separate checking and credit accounts. Separate your paychecks from your spouse's as soon as possible.
  • Work on making important decisions regarding any children or other dependents as quickly as possible.
  • Communicate as efficiently as possible and be selective in the matters that are important to you.

Frequently issues occur between parties which necessitate court intervention.  Family Law issues can be emotionally tolling on an individual and frequently our clients are experiencing one of the most difficult times in their life.   Our office has handled hundreds of cases involving family law issues in Erie, Huron, Ottawa, and Sandusky Counties in Ohio and your matter will be handled in a professional manner while giving you the level of comminciation  that you need to understand your legal rights and the options available to you.

JUVENILE LAW

Juvenile criminal and traffic offenses are handled differently from adult criminal and traffic offenses.  Juvenile offenses are handled through the juvenile judicial system and the juvenile courts   have jurisdiction over matters concerning children, including delinquency, neglect,  truancy,  and running away.  Many juveniles are referred to juvenile courts by law enforcement officers, but many others are referred by school officials, social services agencies, neighbors, and even parents for behavior or conditions that are determined to require intervention by the formal system for social control.

Once a juvenile is under juvenile court disposition, the court may retain jurisdiction until the juvenile legally becomes an adult and at times following the release of the juvenile they are  often ordered to a period of probation which is similar to parole supervision for adult offenders. Juvenile offenders who violate the conditions of aftercare may have their aftercare revoked, resulting in being recommitted to a facility.

REAL ESTATE

Real estate law does not just cover the preparation of deeds or review of mortgage documents.  Real estate law also includes, but is not limited to,  buying and selling residences, foreclosure, commercial property development, construction of residential and multi-family developments, mobile homes purchases or use, condemnation, landlord/tenant issues, mortgage matters, property line concerns, easements, right-of-way, property use issues, mechanic liens,  and zoning issues.  Many real estate issues can be resolved out of court but occasionally the legal siutation will need to proceed through the court.

No matter what your real estate needs may be our office will give you the best advice to prepare you for what lies ahead to allow you to make the best decisions for your situation.

CRIMINAL

Unlike civil law, which involves private law suits between two or more private entities, criminal law involves individuals who are being prosecuted by the state or federal government for an act that has been classified as a crime. Crimes are classified as Misdemeanors--less serious offenses that are normally punishable by a fine,  like petty theft, obstruction of justice, or possession of a small amount of marijuana; and Felonies--more serious offenses that warrant imprisonment of one or more years, such as grand theft or  assault with a deadly weapon.

 In criminal law, the suit is initiated by the state or federal government through a prosecutor and the prosecutor has to prove to the judge or jury "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged.

 Sometimes people do not understand that a “no contest” pleas to a criminal charge will result in the Judge finding the individual “guilty” of the charge.   It is important to know your legal rights in criminal matters as statements made to police officers or other investigator may be held against you even if the statement is taken out of context.  Do not take a wait-and-see approach to a criminal situation, contact our office at 419-502-2002 at the onset of the situation for experienced legal representation.  

TRAFFIC 

From illegal U-turns to DUI, if you have been cited for violating a traffic law and would like to learn more about your legal options,  including your right to go to court to fight the ticket, you should contact our office for representation as more serious offenses like reckless driving or leaving the scene of an accident can impact your driving privileges.  Having an experienced attorney on your side can help ensure that your legal interests are protected to the fullest extent possible.

CORPORATIONS AND LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES

If you are considering starting a business, or already own your own business, forming a corporation or LLC can provide you with the personal financial protection that you need.  Plus, incorporating a business promotes a professional image and tells potential customers that you are a legitimate business. 

Our office will provide you with the professional legal advise and the documentation necessary to appropriately form a corporation or LLC to ensure your protection as just incorporating a business doesn’t automatically mean you won’t have personal liability.   Our office will guide you through the necessary steps in properly forming and maintaining a coporation or LLC, such as not co-mingling  your personal and business funds and mainintaing proper documents.

There are many websites that offer canned forms for completion but they are generalized for anyone who visits the website and does not provide you with the personal touch you need to ensure you are properly and fully protected. Don’t leave the protection of your business and personal assets to boilerplate documents that do not tend to you needs, contact our office at 419-502-2002 for professional legal representation for your protection.

CONTRACT LAW

Contracts are promises that the law will enforce and contracts may be written or oral.  The law provides remedies if a promise is broken or “breached”.  To be legally binding as a contract, a promise must be exchanged for adequate consideration. Adequate consideration is a benefit or detriment which a party receives which reasonably and fairly induces them to make the promise/contract.   An oral  promise may be considered a contract, and may be enforced,  if one party has relied to his detriment on the promise ances of the other party.

Contracts are mainly governed by  statutory law and  common law.   Common law is based upon judge’s decisions.   Statutory law may require some contracts be put in writing and executed with particular formalities.  Otherwise, the parties may enter into a binding agreement without signing a formal written document.  Contact our office at 419-502-2002 if you believe you have entered into a contract and have contract law issues.