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Ohio’s Coronavirus “Stay at Home” order and Animal Care

Image result for dog at home alone

Ohio’s COVID 19 “Stay at Home” order does not prevent you from caring for animals.

The Ohio Department of Health issued an emergency order effective March 24, 2020 requiring all Ohio citizens to shelter at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But there are exceptions:

  • Paragraph 5(e) permits a person to travel in order to provide care for or for the transportation of pets.
  • Paragraph 7 permits travel for the purpose of providing “veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals.
  • Paragraph 12(c) specifically permits people to engage in “essential work or activity,”  including “businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, rescues, kennels, and adoption facilities.”  This means that humane societies, dog shelters, animal rescues and animal boarding facilities can continue their important work.

Remember, anyone who keeps, harbors or confines an animal has a legal duty to provide care to prevent unnecessary suffering. Failure to do so could result in criminal penalties. (See O.R.C. 959.13 and 959.131.)

We urge everyone in this time of emergency to use social distancing and to take extra efforts to clean and sanitize to avoid spreading the virus while you care for your pets, and while you continue the vital work of animal rescue.

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How do I prepare for my child’s IEP conference?

Meeting with school officials about your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) can feel like your worst nightmare. Sitting alone across from five or six administrators and experts has all the markings of a bad dream. But, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Preparing for an IEP

You can prepare for the meeting in a few simple ways.

First, familiarize yourself with the form used for every IEP. The Ohio Department of Education offers a sample at http://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Special-Education/Federal-and-State-Requirements/Ohio-Required-and-Optional-Forms-Updated/iep-pr-07-form-static.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US .

This is the form the school will complete and review with you at the IEP meeting. Read through the 16 sections and think about how you would answer regarding your child. Above all, consider what is right for your child.

Knowing the players

Next, consider who may be at the meeting. The school district can include your child’s general education teacher, a Special Education teacher, any experts such as the school psychologist or a therapist, an administrator from the school, among others. Therefore, you may be know one or more of them, and this may relieve some of your angst.

Also, request an advanced copy of your child’s IEP. If the school has prepared a draft IEP, ask them to provide you with a copy. This extra time can help you formulate questions or seek additional information about the matters discussed in the IEP.

Be prepared to disagree

Finally, make yourself ready to disagree with part or all of the plan the school has developed for your child. When the conference is over, the school district will ask you to sign in Section 15, found at the end of the plan. Your signature acknowledges that you attended the meeting, and another signature indicates you agree with the plan.

Before signing, read this section carefully. If you agree with the school’s ideas and plans for your child, sign it in the appropriate place. However, if you do not agree, make sure that is clear in this signature area.

Preparation beforehand can take the turmoil out of the IEP conference. The shear number of school officials can be overwhelming. Remember, you can bring other people to these meetings including family members, friends, other professionals or even an attorney.

Let us help

At Holland & Muirden, we understand how overwhelming the IEP process can be. We can help at any stage of the process to make the IEP less of a nightmare. Contact us today. http://holland-muirden.com/contact-ohio-law-firm-free/

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When I’m gone, who will speak for my disabled child?

Every parent of a child with a disability worries – what happens when I’m gone?   Other children grow up to become self-sufficient. A child with a disability grows into an adult with a disability. They will need someone there for them. Who will speak for your disabled child when you’re gone?

Finding someone who “gets it”

Caring for a special needs child is tough enough. Parents know their own child. They know what they need now and what they will need as an adult.  Along the way, there are family or friends who also “get it.” These are people the parent would entrust with their child.

Parents planning for the future can ensure their child –whether a minor or an adult – is looked after by one of these trusted people.  Ohio law permits them to nominate a specific guardian for their disabled child, even if their son or daughter has entered adulthood.   

Parents nominate a guardian for the future when they may not be there. A guardian who will speak for their disabled child.

Who will speak for your child?

An adult with disabilities may need a guardian whether they live independently, in a group home or in an institution.  Even if a guardian doesn’t provide direct care, they will need to make important decisions about health care, living quarters or special educational needs.  A guardian oversees their care and steps in if something goes wrong. They become the disabled person’s voice.

If you pass away or are unable to make decisions for your child, the court can appoint a guardian.  If you have nominated someone for the post, the judge must consider that person, ask if they meet the legal requirements and determine it is in the best interest of your child.   Without a nomination, the court must consider whoever applies to be the guardian of your child.

We can help

At Holland & Muirden, we understand that the future – and estate planning – is different when you care for someone with special needs.  Contact us today to make your plans. http://holland-muirden.com/ohio-law-areas-of-practice/ohio-estate-planning-probate-attorneys/

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What happens to my Facebook page when I die?

By now, you’ve probably seen someone’s Facebook page change to memorial status when they pass away.  Facebook even lets you appoint a “Legacy contact” to manage your memorialized account.  Or, you can choose to delete your account completely once you die.

This Online Tool handles your Facebook account, but what about everything else?  Snapchat? Google Hangouts? Amazon? The online electric bill?  What happens to your email when you die? If you die, can someone else sign on to your account and pay your bills? Or turn off an automatic payment?

Ohio has a law to help answer these questions and let you plan for your Digital Assets if you die or become disabled.   In 2017, Ohio legislators passed the Digital Assets Act which gives you the tools to include online information in your estate planning.

If I am incapacitated…

 First, the newest Statutory Power of Attorney (a POA) form includes “Digital Assets” and “the content of electronic communication sent or received by me.”   In a POA, you select an agent to handle your affairs if you are alive but not able to make decisions. 

  The Digital Assets option gives them access to everything EXCEPT the content of your emails.  So, your agent can pay your electric bill or use your email address book to send health updates to some or all of your contacts.  So, if you want your agent to actually read your emails, you select the “content of electronic communication” option.  State lawmakers felt email content was highly personal and need to be chosen separately.

If I pass away…

However, a POA expires when you die.  So, to ensure someone has access to your Digital Assets and/or “the content of electronic communication” you should specify this in your will.  This language can be as general or as specific as you want.  It can be for all of your accounts or for a specific account, such as LinkedIn.

In conclusion, you can make sure someone has all your passwords, but accounts and passwords change.  Using “online tools” such as the Facebook options helps manage some accounts.   However, adding digital assets to your estate planning can ensure that all of your accounts are covered.  Your POA agent or the executor of your estate will be able to open and use your accounts to do what you wish or what’s best for your estate.

We can help

So, contact us today to talk about your Digital Assets and all your estate planning needs.

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Courts may order forfeiture of horses in animal cruelty case

On September 20, 2019, the 11th District Court of Appeals in Ohio held that a sentencing court may order an animal cruelty offender to forfeit horses as a condition of probation without going through the more cumbersome process of a full forfeiture proceeding.

The history of this case is complicated. Defendant Bianca Marcellino was convicted after a jury trial of two counts of animal cruelty for neglecting two horses, which were found to be emaciated and suffering from rain rot. Bianca Marcellino stated in a sworn affidavit that she was the sole owner of the horses. However, just before her sentencing hearing, Bianca’s mother, Karen Marcellino, filed a motion claiming to be the owner in an attempt to block forfeiture of the horses to the Geauga County Humane Society. The Court found that there was no evidence supporting Karen’s claim and ordered the horses to be forfeited.

The horses were rehabilitated by the Humane Society and placed in a new home. 

Karen filed an appeal. The Court of Appeals dismissed her case, finding that the case was moot, as the horses were already placed with a new home. State v. Marcellino, 11th Dist. Geauga Nos. 2019-G-0199, 2019-G-0200, 2019-Ohio-3329. Karen filed a motion to reconsider, claiming that there should have been a separate forfeiture proceeding beyond the sentencing in her daughter’s case.

The Court of Appeals denied the motion to reconsider. This appears to be the first appellate case in Ohio holding specifically that a sentencing court may order forfeiture of livestock as a condition of probation under R.C. 959.99(D) without further court proceedings.

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