Here are some items worth updates:
Probate deed project
Summit County Probate Judge Todd McKenney’s yearlong project to help county residents better understand court procedures and examine more than 238,000 residential deeds is moving along.
Meetings were held last week in Tallmadge, where 2,500 letters were mailed to homeowners who could be affected.
A meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday will be held in Copley Township at the Copley Community Center, 1278 Sunset Drive. In Copley, about 2,300 letters were sent to homeowners whose property, by the way it is currently titled, could be headed to probate court.
If you missed a meeting held by McKenney in your community, you can catch a future one anywhere, since he is sharing the same information each time.
McKenney said he will be at the Copley meeting by 5 p.m. if anyone would like to come early.
The judge launched the project in January and continues to look for partnerships with communities and volunteers.
Residential deeds on file in Summit County are being checked to notify homeowners who could benefit from creating a Joint and Survivorship Deed or another document called a Transfer on Death Affidavit (often called a TOD or a TOD deed).
The transfer allows a property to go from a single person or widow or widower to heirs. Both scenarios would transfer property without probate court involvement and save time and money for families, he said.
McKenney said these are recommended for people in a first marriage or those who are single with adult children and with a home as their largest asset. Single or divorced parents with minor children might not want to have a TOD to young children.
“It is going better than I expected, and I am very encouraged by how many people are looking at their deeds for the first time and making a change with a better result,” McKenney said.
There are numbers to back up the positive nature of the project.
According to Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise’s office, there has been a 40 percent increase in survivorship type deed filings in the first three months of this year compared to last year. Last year, there were 295 filings and the first three months this year, there were 413.
The reviews continue in other communities. New communities that have requested reviews are Cuyahoga Falls (with a meeting in mid-September), Stow (a meeting in early August), Coventry and Springfield townships (meetings in July), Bath Township (meeting in September), Clinton (meeting in July) and Peninsula (meeting in August).
Letters of invitation have gone out to all Summit County communities to participate in this project, but McKenney said communities will need to sign up by the end of June.
“We can still do a few more, but with our scheduling, we will begin to push up against the end of my term,” he said. McKenney was appointed probate judge last November, resigning as a state representative to take the position after the retirement of Bill Spicer.
A few days after taking his oath in December, McKenney announced he would not run for election to the job because he had community projects in mind that needed his full attention.
Whether the project continues after his term will be up to the next probate judge, McKenney said.
Communities and volunteers interested in participating may call 330-643-2330.
Previous Beacon Journal stories with contact numbers about McKenney’s project, as well as information about how to look up the deeds and read about estate-planning, can be found at www.ohio.com/betty under “Probate project.”
McKenney said volunteers have been very helpful in reviewing the deeds and preparing the letters to mail.
“Seven unpaid interns, most from the University of Akron School of Law, are helping us push forward this summer,” he said. “They join many other great volunteers who have been looking at thousands of deeds since the first of the year.
“A group of developmentally disabled adults from the Blick Clinic’s Office Services Group has done our last three mailings and we could not have done it without them.”
The project is gaining interest outside the county.
“Geauga County is considering the same project. I met with their probate judge, county records and bar association officials and stressed that these same partners in Summit County, with the support of local governments, make this project work,” he said.
Groupon class action
An email in the spam filter of my personal account the other day notified me of a possible class-action settlement regarding Groupon. Naturally, I wanted to check it out and make sure it wasn’t a scam.
I have since found the actual lawsuit filing and some news accounts from early April describing the situation.
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Groupon, the biggest seller of daily deals, and the company has reached an $8.5 million settlement. The lawsuit alleged expiration dates on the coupons are illegal.
However, the settlement has not yet been approved by the court. As with most class-action lawsuits, you are automatically included in the class unless you opt out. But keep in mind that even when approved, class-action settlements can take years before anyone sees the few dollars or vouchers or whatever is agreed upon.
It’s something to file away and be pleasantly surprised years later, when you get a little check or voucher.
In this proposed settlement, filed in federal court in San Diego, customers who bought Groupon vouchers before Dec. 1, 2011, can either redeem them past their expiration date or, if they are unable to do so, obtain a refund from the $8.5 million fund. According to a Bloomberg News report, residents in some states may seek refunds only for vouchers sold after Aug. 22, 2010.
Groupon also agreed for three years not to sell more than 10 percent of its daily deals with an expiration date of less than 30 days after the issue date, according to the filing.
The settlement resolved 17 lawsuits that had been combined in court.
More details can be found at www.grouponvouchersettlement.com.
Here’s the bottom line from what I can tell after reading through documents: If you had a Groupon voucher during this time period that you did not use and it expired or a portion of it expired (sometimes with Groupons, a portion of the discount will expire after a certain amount of time), then if the settlement is approved, you will get a voucher to redeem that Groupon or possibly some of the settlement money for your refund.
However, if you already used your Groupon, this settlement doesn’t affect you.
There’s nothing to do at this time.
The best advice — when buying Groupons or other daily deal discounts — is to make sure you use them in a timely manner.
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty.