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Remote notary services now available!

We’re excited to announce that Holland & Muirden is now offering online notary services in Ohio!

Online notarization became legal in Ohio in September 2019 and requires the individual notary complete special training and pass an examination. Our notary public is authorized by the Secretary of State’s Office to perform these services.

An online notarization is performed by an authorized Ohio notary public when a signer personally appears before the notary using audio-visual technology instead of being physically present in the same location as the notary.  An online notarization requires the use of an online notarization system to perform the act, as the signer is not located in the same location as the notary. The ability to have a document notarized online is convenient and simplifies the entire process for notaries and clients alike. It also provides additional benefits such as:

➡️Providing a service to clients who simply are not able to make it to an office.

➡️Maintaining social/physical distancing.

➡️Saving trees! In addition to eliminating travel, online notarization can be a green service with digital-only copies of the documents being notarized.

In addition, this process offers clients additional security measures and creates a video recording of the entire notarization process. There is a state maximum fee of $25.00 per notarization.

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COVID-19: Responsible RestartOhio and Pets

The Ohio Department of Health and Gov. Mike DeWine issued a plan to restart Ohio’s economy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on April 27, 2020.

How does Responsible RestartOhio pertain to pets and pet-related business?
✔️On May 1, 2020, veterinary services can resume. Yes, this means “non-essential” spay/neuters can be performed! Facilities that plan to resume providing services must adhere to infection control practices and have sufficient PPE.

✔️On May 12, 2020, consumer, retail, and services, may reopen. Consumer, retail, and services are not further defined, but many services that are often essential for pets, including retail grooming shops, dog walkers, and training centers, are NOT included on the continued closure list. Continued closures include:
-Schools and daycares
-Dine-in restaurants and bars (carry-out is still permitted)
-Personal appearance and beauty businesses
-Older adult daycare serveries and senior centers
-Adult day support or vocational rehabilitation services in group settings
-Entertainment, recreation, and gyms
The full list of continued business closures is available here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/…/responsible-restart-ohio/Co…/

Thus, previously closed pet-related businesses such as retail grooming shops and doggie daycares are likely not prohibited from re-opening on May 12. Pet-related businesses that plan to resume providing services must adhere to the Sector Specific Operating Requirements, which include protocols such as ensuring a minimum of 6 ft between people and/or having barriers, employee symptom checks, handwashing, accessible sanitizer, cleaning protocols, and maximum occupancy limits. As of April 28, 2020, face coverings are recommended for employees and guests. The full list of Sector Specific Operating requirements can be found here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/…/Sector-Specific-Operating-R…/

Businesses with questions about operating procedures can contact the ODH COVID-19 hotline (1-833-4-ASK-ODH) and/or an attorney for guidance.

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Covid-19: Connecting to loved ones in lock down

How do you connect with loved ones in lock down at nursing homes? Residents in nursing homes, assisted living, group homes or other care facilities are isolated in the best of times. Now, with the lock down of facilities to protect against Covid-19 infection, they are completely cut off from family and loved ones. What can you do to help?

Lockdowns protect the fragile

The elderly are the most likely to die from the Covid-19 virus. Most already have underlying conditions and the ravages of aging itself makes it harder to fend off virus symptoms that may be very severe.

Some of the very first precautions taken during the pandemic was the screening of visitors to nursing homes. A masked employee would take your temperature, give you a survey about recent travel and ask if you had any symptoms. Very soon after that, facilities completely closed to visitors and any other unnecessary personnel. Non-medical staff moved off site, and medical staff were screened before each shift. They would wear masks for their entire shifts.

Know what’s happening inside

Visiting a loved one in a nursing home is the best way to ensure they are being treated properly and are doing well. But, there are other ways to check on them during this lock down.

In Ohio, the Department of Health issued an order that nursing homes must notify family members within 24 hours if someone in the facility tests positive for Covid-19. Ohio also provides a list of facilities with reported cases at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/dashboards/long-term-care-facilities/cases

Family members also may wish call the facility and ask. Specific questions may include: Are patients confined to their rooms or allowed to be in the halls? Are they eating in their rooms? Have you had any cases? Have you had any deaths? What are you doing with those who test positive? Are you taking in new residents? Are you quarantining them before they are mixed in with current residents?

Also ask questions about your loved one’s general wellness: How is he/she? Is he/she eating properly? Do they seem worried or depressed? Are they less active than before? Is their health good? Are they showing any symptoms?

You may want to call every 7 to 10 days in most circumstances. Care facility staff are busy, but most will take a few minutes to update you on your loved one.

Some facilities have a web page available only to family members and loved ones to give updates on the facility and its response to the pandemic.

Connecting with your loved one

While you can’t visit, there are other ways to connect with your loved ones. The news is full of families standing outside windows waving or holding signs for their loved ones. Many facilities are offering Skype or other video sessions so you can see your loved one as you speak to them. Phone calls cheer up residents who can speak on the phone.

You might also try sending cards or letters. Having a child write a letter or draw a picture for their grandparent, uplifts the spirit of the child and the elder. If you usually bring a favorite snack to your loved one, ask the facility if you can mail it.

Keeping your loved one safe

The safest place for your elderly loved one is in a care facility which is taking the utmost precautions to prevent spread of the virus. As much as you would like to visit or take them out for a day, the most thoughtful thing you can do is to leave them in place until the virus threat is past. Meanwhile, keep in touch with the facility and your loved one.

For information about specific areas of law, see our web page: http://holland-muirden.com/

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COVID-19: Saving Pets with Special Contracts and Addendums

As a result of the coronavirus crisis, rescues, shelters, animal control facilities, dog wardens, and humane societies have an increased need for volunteer foster homes, who are a lifeline to alleviate overcrowding and economic hardships, as employees and volunteers are unable to come in and care for pets as they normally do.

Complicating matters is that in some situations, routine spay/neuter surgeries have been deemed “non-essential” in order to preserve supplies, such as PPE and oxygen, and to promote staff safety by encouraging social distancing.

Some rescue and shelter operations do not release pets into foster homes until they are spayed or neutered. Most do not release pets into permanent adoptive homes until they are spayed or neutered. Given the lack of available spay/neuter surgeries, a strong foster home, foster-to-adopt, or adoption contract with special spay/neuter provisions can be used to ensure that rescue and shelter operations are able to continue to place pets into foster and adoptive homes while still safeguarding their mission of reducing pet overpopulation. Such agreements give the shelter or rescue the ability to enforce the delayed spay/neuter and reclaim the pet (and/or its unintended offspring) if necessary.

The following sample language is a volunteer foster home agreement addendum. This is a supplement to a foster home contract and is only as strong as the foster home contract is itself. This addendum is not formatted to be used on its own and may not be legally enforceable on its own.  An effective and enforceable foster home contract will include additional critical provisions pertaining to the foster program, such as jurisdiction for enforcement and reimbursement for expenses such as food, transport, and medical care.

This sample addendum is provided for informational use only and should be reviewed by legal counsel in conjunction with the organization’s foster home contract. Rescues and shelters may also consider foster-to-adopt or adoption contracts with special addendums related to spay/neuter and COVID-19.

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Animal Care Exemption Letter during Coronavirus

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Some animal shelter, rescue, and humane society employees and volunteers have reported that they are uncomfortable traveling during Ohio’s Stay at Home COVID-19 order, effective March 24th, because they fear being pulled over by law enforcement without documentation about their activities.

While most law enforcement agencies do not seem to be aggressively questioning citizens, a letter explaining that animal care activities are exempt may help quell these fears.

Here is a sample which you may wish to review with your own legal counsel:

To Whom It May Concern:

Please be advised that _____________ is a current employee/volunteer at ABC ANIMAL RESCUE (the Rescue) located at ___________________.  The Rescue is committed to taking responsible action to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including compliance with all orders from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH.)

The Rescue is aware of the “Director’s Stay at Home Order” issued by ODH requiring all persons to stay at home unless they are engaged in an “essential work or activity.”  Paragraph 12(c) of that order specifically exempts “businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, rescues, kennels, and adoption facilities.”  Furthermore, Paragraph 7 of the order permits travel for the purpose of providing “veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals.”  Finally, Paragraph 5(e) permits travel in order to provide care for and the transportation of pets. 

The Rescue is an organization described in Paragraph 12(c) and is therefore exempt for the activities described above.  The person named above is authorized by the Rescue to travel for the purpose of providing these essential services.

Please call _______________ if you have questions or concerns.

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

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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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Ohio Nonprofits Beware– “OH Certificate Service”

Nonprofits Beware!
This very official-looking letter purports to provide your new Ohio nonprofit organization a Certificate of Good Standing for the fee of $67.50. This letter is NOT from the Ohio Secretary of State and is extremely misleading. Similar letters are being sent to nonprofits across the country with state-matched names such as “MI Certificate Service” (Michigan) and “CA Certificate Service” (California).

The letter suggests that your organization may need this certificate as “official evidence” of your organization’s existence. In reality, when an Ohio nonprofit organization is formed, you receive an approval certificate with your charter number from the Ohio Secretary of State.

Please review solicitations like this carefully before sending funds and when in doubt, reach out directly to the governmental agency rather than using the contact information contained in the letter. OH Certificate Service’s website does not exist and its address is a UPS Shipping Store. The website uses a “.com” domain, rather than “.gov.” In a tiny font in the middle of the letter under “Business Information,” there is a line that reads “This is not a government agency.” Are they referring to the nonprofit organization or “OH Certificate Service”?

Certificates of Good Standing are rarely needed for Ohio nonprofits and are most often used when dealing with financial institutions. If your organization needs a Certificate of Good Standing, it can be obtained online from the Ohio Secretary of State website for $5.00 (https://www.sos.state.oh.us/businesses/business-reports/#gref) or contact an attorney for help (it won’t cost you $67.50!).

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