Roberson Law Focusing on Estate Planning, Trust, Probate and Elder Law


Roberson Law Staff Receive Two Prestigious Awards 

For the second time in seven years, our firm was chosen as a finalist for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Eclipse Integrity Award.

This award is one of the most difficult for a business to receive because of the rigorous process that a business has to go through after being nominated for the award.  We estimate that about 40 hours of work went into submitting all of the evidence and substantiation to the BBB to prove that we operate with integrity and abide by strict ethical standards.

We thank all of our clients and peers who submitted testimonials on our behalf, but we especially thank our clients and cherished friends Pam Walker, Mike Crawford, and Kim Vesey, who came to our office and gave live testimonials about our firm to the BBB Eclipse Integrity Award judges.  We are truly humbled by all of the support we received throughout the award nomination process, for we couldn't have become a finalist without the help of everyone who participated.   
The second honor was received by our probate paralegal for the past 16 years, Jennifer Burkitt, who for the second year in a row was given a reputable award for her work in our profession. At the 2017 Law Day on May 1st, Jennifer was presented the award for 2017 Outstanding Paralegal by Montgomery County Clerk of Courts, Gregory Brush. 
Jennifer was honored alongside notable attorneys in Dayton who were also given awards.  Last year, Jennifer was given the award as the Paralegal of the Year by Sinclair College, so we feel extremely blessed to have had Jennifer's accomplishments recognized for two years in a row. 

Elderly Woman

Elder Care Corner: Alzheimer's Patients URGENT Need For Legal Documents

We see a lot of families in our office who cannot assist their loved one who has Alzheimer's Disease or dementia with financial and health care matters because no one has the legal authority to act on behalf of the loved one.  Often by the time the caregiver calls us, it is too late for us to help the loved one.  This is because the mental capacity and cognition level of the loved one with Alzheimer's Disease or dementia have deteriorated too much for him or her to be able to sign any legal documents.  Because o ne of the symptoms of the disease is combativeness, the loved one will often refuse to sign legal documents, even if she or he still has the mental capacity to do so.  

In addition, at one time, it may have made sense for spouses to name each other as their legal representatives to make financial and health care decisions for the other, but when a dementia diagnosis is made, the healthy spouse usually should revise his or her legal documents and remove the diagnosed spouse from having any legal authority.  This can be gut-wrenching but necessary.  After all, how can the diagnosed spouse make quality decisions for another when he or she can't even take care of himself or herself?

If you or your loved one shows signs of Alzheimer's Disease or dementia, we can offer guidance about the legal and financial consequences of dementia. As soon as a diagnosis is made, please call us; w aiting to obtain legal assistance until the disease has progressed is very unwise.
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Alzheimer's disease is relentless.  So are we.   Join our team or sponsor one of our team members for the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's®, the world's largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support, and research.  Together we can help those affected by dementia and Alzheimer's Disease and move closer to a world without these two devastating illnesses.
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Did you know that we have a department dedicated to senior services?
  • Preserve your savings from nursing home costs
  • Keep your home in the family
  • Know when to apply for Medicaid
  • Obtain a Personal Services Agreement for your loved one who needs home care
Check out our  web page on Elder Law! 
Clients of the Month
The clients of the month for May are the dear McElroy family.  The McElroys were an absolute delight to work with not only because of their cheerful attitude and warm disposition, but also because they were so thorough with completing the estate planning "homework" that we gave them to do. They followed instructions, met deadlines, and did what they said they were going to do with regard to their estate planning goals.  In summary, the McElroys made our job very easy. Thank you to Eddie, Della, Delores, and Angela McElroy for being a joy to serve!
News You Can Use
In This Issue:  
  • Roberson Law Staff Receive Two Prestigious Awards 
  • Recent Changes In Ohio Probate Laws
  • One Attorney's Case Against Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning
  • Think You're In A Common Law Marriage?
  • Character Matters
  • Trump And The Death Tax
  • Elder Care Corner: Alzheimer's Patients URGENT Need For Legal Documents
  • Clients Of The Month  
  • Upcoming Grief Support And Resources
  • Need A Speaker For Your Next Event?
  • New Office Hours In June Because It's A Girl!
Recent Changes In Ohio Probate Laws Probate Court

Ohio House Bill 432, which went into effect on April 6, 2017, made some changes to Ohio's laws that are worth noting.  Below are just a few highlights of this bill:
1.  Ohio law previously allowed a surviving spouse to receive two automobiles valued at $40,000 or less without taking the vehicles through probate.  Under the new law, a surviving spouse may now claim an unlimited number of vehicles having a total combined value of no more than $65,000.
2. The Ohio Transfers to Minors Act has been changed to allow distributions to a beneficiary to be deferred through a custodial account until age 25. (Previously, distribution was required to be made at age 21.)  This is a great way to protect young adult beneficiaries from quickly blowing through an inheritance.
3.  For our clients who serve as guardian of a ward through the probate court, there has been a very favorable change relating to the sale of the ward's real estate.  A guardian is now able to sell a ward's real estate without going through the process of a land sale, which is often a long and expensive court proceeding, if the ward's spouse and "all persons entitled to the next estate of inheritance" consent to the sale of the real estate.  More simply put, this means the ward's spouse and next of kin or beneficiaries under a will, if any, must consent to the sale of the real estate.  

One Attorney's Case Against Do It Yourself Estate Planning 

by Kim Estess, Attorney at Law


Everywhere you turn these days, it seems you hear another advertisement for a company that can help you set up a simple will online, from the comfort of your own home. As an estate planning attorney, it's pretty common for friends or acquaintances to say to me, "We need to get a will. Can we do it ourselves or do we need to use an attorney?"

Regardless of the people asking, their financial situation, their marital status, or whether or not they have kids, my answer is going to be the same every time...

Read the rest of the article here.
Strata Leadership is a company that focuses on a character quality each month, with the sole purpose of building character in organizations.  Our office has subscribed to the Strata Leadership monthly bulletins for years as a tool to promote character within our law firm.  

The character quality highlighted this month is humility.   According to Strata Leadership, the definition of humility is, "Recognizing the people and factors that have shaped my life.  The act of humility creates a feeling of trust and approachability.  It also engenders openness and good will on the part of others. 

The action plan for practicing humility is: 
 1) Share the credit.
 2) Ask for help. 
 3) Serve others.

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." 
-Micah 6:8
Trump And The Death Tax

One of the issues that President Trump will mostly likely tackle this year is tax reform pertaining to estate tax legislation, a topic of interest for estate planning attorneys.  Estate tax repeal is one of the actions on the horizon due to House Republicans' desire to "eliminate the estate tax and the generation-skipping transfer tax, so that the death of a family member or loved one will no longer be a taxable event;" however, the 40% death tax affects only a minuscule number of people (individuals who die with $5.49 million and married couples who die with $10.98 million in 2017).
Changes in Medicaid are also on the horizon, so people who foresee that they will be applying for Medicaid in the near future need to be aware of how the program changes may affect their eligibility.  Right now, we know that the Republicans are proposing that more of the costs of Medicaid be shifted to the states.  Doing so could affect how much each state will be able to pay on behalf of recipients, which could eventually affect the eligibility requirements for Medicaid.  As usual, we advise our clients to always seek legal counsel when devising a plan for long-term care provided by Medicaid.  One wrong move with regard to asset transfers and gifting could disqualify a person from being approved for Medicaid in the future.
"If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?  And why are you waiting?"
Stephen Levine
Need a Speaker For Your Next Event? Speaking
Nancy Roberson has another busy year giving speeches to various non-profits, clubs, civic organizations, and businesses on the importance of planning for death and disability.
If you would like Nancy to speak at your next event, please call 937.643.2000 or email Amy Cary at to book your event.  Nancy has an inspiring personal story that captivates and motivates audiences to get their personal and legal affairs in order. 

As always, we do not charge a fee for our professional speaking services as long as you confirm that at least ten people will attend.  If fewer than ten people attend the event, then we just request that a donation be made to the Young Widows or Widows Support Group.  You may also go to our speaking engagements page on our website to read some testimonials from past attendees and to obtain more information about speaking topics.  
Think You're In A Common Law Marriage? 

Very few states adhere to the legality of common law marriage.  Ohio is not one of them unless the common law marriage was created before 1991.  After that date, in Ohio, if you want to gain all of the economic and legal benefits of being married, you must go through the formal process of getting married.

A myth that many people believe is that common law marriages are automatically recognized after 7 years of cohabitation.  We couldn't definitively determine how the figure of 7 years was ever concocted, but nevertheless it is the figure that people often incorrectly assume is the "magic number."  In Ohio, the magic number is 26 or more years as of this date.

So you are probably wondering why a firm that practices estate planning and probate law, and not family law, cares about the topic of common law marriage? The answer is simply because the validity of the marriage comes into play when determining how assets are distributed in a decedent's estate, especially when a will doesn't exist at death.  That is why we ask all of our clients to provide us with a copy of their marriage certificates before we draft their estate planning documents. 

According to an article that published about common law marriage, "Courts most often apply the rules of common law marriage in situations where one partner dies without a will and the other claims there was a common law marriage so as to inherit property under intestate succession laws. These laws automatically give a share of property to a spouse but don't recognize an unmarried partner."

In summary, if you desire for your partner to inherit your assets at your death, then your estate planning documents need to reflect your wishes.  Without a will and a valid marriage, your longtime partner could be disinherited, and your assets could instead be distributed to your next-of-kin upon your death.   
Upcoming Grief Support And Resources

This is a reminder that the Young Widows' Support Group (under age 50) meets on the first Thursday of each month from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and the Widows' Support Group (over age 50) meets on the first Friday of each month from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  (Dates may change, however, due to holiday conflicts.)  Both groups meet at Normandy United Methodist Church, located at 450 West Alex-Bell Road, Centerville, Ohio.  There is no cost to attend.

We had an interesting presentation at our May meetings that we want to share with you:  "Beyond Closure" is a superb TED talk that enlightened us about our journey through grief.  You can watch it at here.

The upcoming meetings are:

June 1, 2        Young Widows' Support Group:  Panel of  Former YWSG Members
Widows Support Group: Grief Presentation

July 6, 7          Show & Tell:  Share precious memories (tangible & intangible) of your loved one (both groups)

August 3, 4     Secondary Losses presentation by Pam Walker (both groups)
For more information about the Young Widows' Support Group, visit the website, call Pam Walker at 937.672.8810, or email
For further information about the Widows' Support Group, call Sherry Matsel at 937.878.9707 or email
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New Office Hours In June Because It's A Girl!

For the month of June only, our office will be closing at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. This is due to the birth of Attorney Kim Estess' baby girl Abigail Lee on May 8, 2017! Unless there is an emergency appointment that is scheduled for Nancy Roberson on Fridays, Kim is the only attorney who works in our office on Fridays. That being the case, due to Kim's maternity leave, there will not be any attorneys at our office on Fridays during the month of June. We will still have our administrative staff and 3 paralegals in the office until 1:00 p.m. on Fridays. We will continue to be open from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday. Our normal Friday hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. will resume in July.

Office picture


Our mission is to  provide excellent, compassionate legal services to help people plan for the unexpected and prepare for the inevitable.
All material in this newsletter is Copyright © 2017 by Nancy A. Roberson. All rights reserved.