Gatlin Voelker


What happens if you can no longer make decisions? Who is in charge of making major health decisions, financial if you are no longer capable?

The most important document that I will draft for folks is the power of attorney. This allows an individual of your own choosing to pay your bills, take care of your accounts, buy or sell property in your name if they feel it is important. I have stories wherein certain situations where this was incredibly important. For example, if someone is in the hospital in another state, or foreign country and they need to pay their rent or mortgage here, then this would allow an individual to do this on behalf of that person. I also draft a medical power of attorney that allows a person to make all medical decisions on behalf of someone who is not capable of doing it for themselves. For example, if someone is in a coma.  In my opinion, the power of attorney and medical power of attorney are essential to any estate plan.  I always tell people that they should keep the will in a safety deposit box or some other place which is safe. Always let those close to you, particularly your executor where the will is so that when the time comes it will be easy to find. Other estate planning documents, such as the power of attorney should also be kept in a safe place that is also known to the executor and whoever is appointed as power of attorney.  You will make an appointment to come to see so that we can determine exactly what type of estate planning that you need. For example, you may want advice on Medicaid/Medicare planning. Or it may be that you feel like trust is a good option for your needs. After we talk I will give you my thoughts on how I think you should proceed. With very few exceptions, the simple estate plan can be created within about 7-10 days. This would be will, living will, power of attorney and medical power of attorney.  In ending, I would just like to say that the benefits of an estate plan are that it takes so much of the burden off of your heirs. You are making decisions now  so that they don’t have to do it later.

David Steele – Estate Planning & Probate Attorney

David’s practice includes representing clients in banking, real estate, corporate, probate, and general litigation matters. David is admitted to practice both in Kentucky and Ohio.

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Estate planning and writing a will aren’t necessarily topics that many people want to think about. Whether you already have a will or aren’t sure how to get started, find out what estate planning is and why it matters for you and your loved ones.  Estate planning is defined as the instructions for estate asset disbursement to heirs at the owner or author’s death. This includes drawing up a will, setting up trusts, and gifting property. It is such an important topic because no matter how small your estate may be, planning ensures that your property and assets will go to the people you choose and care about the most after death.

While there are many occasions to start estate planning, such as marriage, divorce, childbirth, adoption, or retirement, it’s best to deal with estate planning sooner than later. There are several reasons why. When someone dies without a will, they are said to have died intestate. While each state has specific intestacy laws to help determine where one’s assets go, as a general rule, intestacy laws favor your spouse and your children by giving them your entire estate after passing. If you do not have a spouse or children, then the intestacy law works to distribute your estate to other close relatives. 

It is not only important for you to have your estate planning documents in place; it also helps your loved ones properly take control of your assets upon death.

The best way to ensure your final wishes are carried out is to have a legal will. Even if you aren’t completely sure what you want to do with your property and assets, it’s better to work something out now with an attorney so the state doesn’t have to work it out for you.  Ready to get started on your will or estate plan? Contact April Gatlin to set up an appointment.  

There are many ways that probate law can cause or deepen a divide between family members. One example of this is when there are two feuding family members who argue over the decedent’s intentions or state of mind at the time of writing the will. 

Sometimes it’s because one family member may have been the main caretaker of the decedent, and the decedent had a will where they left that caretaker more than other family members. The other family members feel like they didn’t get their “fair share” or they feel “left out.” This often leads to a challenge that the decedent was not of sound mind when they made the will, or that they were coaxed into it by the caretaker.   

Other common issues include:
  • Multiple wills
  • Holographic (or handwritten) wills
  • Last-minute wills and soundness of mind in making a will or changes to a pre-existing will
  • Unclear or inconsistent instructions from decedent
  • When the decedent is a part of a family-owned or small business
  • Grieving relatives
  • Who actually owns the assets and real estate
  • Debts left by the decedent
  • Taxes
  • Step-children and adopted children
  • Ex-husbands and ex-wives
  • Boyfriends or girlfriends of the decedent
Creating a will and estate plan early on can help prevent or decelerate these kinds of issues, should they arise.  If you have children who are minors, it’s important to address what will occur if both parents die. A guardian and an alternate guardian for your children must be named. You may want to set up a trust provision to help provide money to the children over time, in which case you need to name a trustee. That should be someone you trust and who is good with money so that they can manage the trust.  

Your attorney can help you appoint guardians and trustees so you won’t have to worry about what would happen to your children in the event of the unimaginable. Everyone needs a will. At Gatlin Voelker, our probate and estate planning attorneys can help you write, review, or edit your existing will and estate plan, and can help you ensure that the people you have chosen for the roles of executor, guardian, trustee, and more are still able and willing to accept those roles. Contact us today to make your appointment.  

April Gatlin – Estate Planning Attorney

If you have questions around estate planning, or would like to set up a will, or to simply revisit your existing will to see if it still reflects your final wishes. Please don’t hesitate to contact ApriL Gatlin today to discuss your estate planning and probate needs.

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Nearly every business owner has had their doubts about being in business with a partner, or multiple partners. This is a common concern for virtually every business owner, at some point in time.  Sometimes, the business partner asking this question may be overvaluing his or her own self-worth, but more often, one partner is either not working as hard, marketing as hard, or adding as much value as the other partners. At Gatlin Voelker, we help business owners make informed decisions about whether to act removing a business partner and guide them through the legal process if necessary. The most common question asked is whether you even can remove an owner from the business. Yes– It is possible to remove a business partner/shareholder/member.  The process to remove a partner/shareholder/member is most likely going to be determined by the corporate documents and by state statute. In all cases, it is always best to work out an agreement with the exiting business associate and to involve an attorney in drafting the needed documents.  Each entity, whether it is a Corporation, LLC or Partnership will have different sets of rules and guidelines.  Jack Gatlin, April Gatlin and Brandon Voelker for Gatlin & Voelker Law Firm - Sitting at a conference table working through legal issues A well-drafted Operating Agreement and Articles of Organization will include provisions for removing a member.  Removal may be as simple as the member submitting a letter of resignation, depending on the relevant provisions. However, if the member is not willing to voluntarily resign, the provisions might provide, for example, a voting procedure allowing the other members to vote for the removal of the recalcitrant member. Whether the member agrees to resign, or a vote is passed to force the member to withdraw, the member is still entitled to compensation for his or her interest in the LLC. Your operating agreement may contain buyout provisions that will assist you in this process, or there may be a separate buyout agreement governing such situations. If there are no provisions in either your Operating Agreement or Articles of Organization, both Ohio and Kentucky have statutory processes for removal.  While neither Kentucky nor Ohio follows directly the Uniform Limited Liability Act or ULLCA, both States have similar provisions. If there are no default voting procedures to fall back on and an LLC member who remains unwilling to withdraw from the company, often the only solution, short of the members being able to sit down and negotiate a settlement of the issue, is to petition the court for judicial dissolution of the LLC. Generally speaking, if matters reach this particular stage it’s often best to retain an attorney to help you with the process. If the petition is granted, the LLC will undergo winding up procedures to terminate the business. It is always best to try and reach a resolution first. As with an LLC, shareholders should first look to the Shareholders Agreement for directions on the buyout procedure of the removed shareholder’s ownership interest.   In many cases, the Agreement allows the shareholder’s ownership interest to be sold at fair market value and adjust the remaining shareholder capital accounts accordingly. The valuation method used to determine the fair market value of the shareholder’s ownership interest should be specified in the buy/sell provisions of the Shareholders Agreement. Next, the shareholders will need to draft a resolution for a vote of approval before the board of directors or designated shareholders, whichever the shareholder’s agreement determines.  The corporate records need to reflect this removal and the corporation needs to adjust the shareholder capital accounts.   If there is no provision in the Shareholder Agreement, then like an LLC, the shareholders will have to seek judicial action. In most states, including Kentucky and Ohio, minority shareholder interests are generally protected.  Under most close corporate and partnership laws, the majority owners owe a fiduciary duty to the minority owners and as such must deal with minority owners with candor, honesty, good faith, loyalty, and fairness.  We have successfully represented both majority and minority interests in ownership disputes. Most of the litigation involves reasonableness in salaries, reasonableness in distributions and reasonableness in decisions.  As an example, it would probably be unreasonable for a 51 percent owner to pay themselves a salary that is significantly above market rate and payout of the business a significant amount of personal expenses and then claims there is no money left to distribute to the minority interest. If your partner/shareholder won’t sell their interest, there are often remedies built into the corporate/partnership agreements.  If not, there are always provisions in both Kentucky and Ohio law that deal with “forcing” the sale of a reluctant owner. However, in virtually all cases, where there is not an agreement, the owner seeking the sale, will have to involve the court system and create some justifiable reason to have a court intervene.  Examples could include an intentionally obtuse partner, financial challenges, or other circumstances that would make it nearly impossible to continue the business with its current ownership structure. Make sure you first ask the following questions:
  • How does this impact business bank accounts?
  • Who do I have to notify about the change of a partner/owner?
  • How does this affect taxes for the year this happens?
  • Security measures (changing passwords, removing access from certain accounts, etc.)
The legal part of the solution may not be the biggest challenge.  Realize there are practical issues that arise as well. In many cases, if the business has debt, both owners may hold personal guaranties and the creditors may be reluctant to release one of the owners.   There are also possible tax consequences. It is always best to be preemptive in working out these issues and detail exit strategies in the initial partnership/corporate agreements.  In many cases, a well-drafted Operating Agreement or Shareholder Agreement acts as a prenuptial agreement for business and works to avoid significant legal costs and time drain in the future.

Jack Gatlin – Business Law Attorney

Our team can help you from the very first days you are forming your business through representation in legal matters during operation. We are comprehensive in our business legal support.

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Jack Gatlin in the Courtroom

Jack Gatlin’s Bio

Justia 10.0 Rating for Jack Gatlin - Attorney at Law 10.0Jack Scott Gatlin Jack Gatlin - a Rising Star rated by

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects a citizen’s right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. Traditionally, the Fourth Amendment has been interpreted to say that individuals lack any protected Fourth Amendment interests in records that are possessed, owned and controlled only by a third party or by what a person knowingly exposes to the public. However, the extension of the Fourth Amendment to our cell phones or information we store online has the potential to be violated, abused and searched differently than traditional types of Fourth Amendment searches. They are often the first thing interact with in the morning, and the last thing we check at night. They go with us everywhere and keep some of our most valued pictures, messages, and data. You can arguably learn more about a person looking through their phone than with talking to them. That is why this area of searching for cell phones is so important. If the power of the government to search phones went unchecked, they could learn almost any desired detail about an individual. The rise of the cell phone has also made it increasingly harder to control what a person “knowingly exposes” to a third party and even harder to know if these Fourth Amendment protections against searches and seizures extend to our cell phones. For example, does a person lack a Fourth Amendment privacy interest in the location data that their cell phone gives out? Can it be said an individual knowingly and purposefully exposes this information to a third party? Luckily, the Supreme Court recently decided these questions in the case of Carpenter v. the United States, 138 S. Ct. 2206 (2018) and Riley v. California, 573 U.S. 373, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014). 4th amendment and the bill of rights image In Riley v. California, Riley was stopped by the police for driving with expired tags. During this traffic, stop officers found his cell phone and searched it finding videos and photos that linked him to a previous crime. The Supreme Court ruled that the government needs a warrant, based on probable cause, to search a cell phone. Id at 401. The Court stated that cell phones are filled with massive amounts of personal and private data that distinguish them from traditional items that can be seized during a traffic encounter, like a wallet. Id at 393. Therefore, in order for the government to search one’s cell phone, it is a fairly simple rule, the government needs to get a warrant issued on probable cause to search that phone, even when the phone is acquired due to a lawful arrest. It is important to note that the Court stopped short of saying this is always required. The Court concluded their opinion stating that some warrantless searches of phones could be permitted if certain exigent circumstances give rise to that warrantless search. Id at 407. However, for the law-abiding American citizen, you can be assured that your phone does receive some Fourth Amendment protections and the government will need a search warrant to search your device. Carpenter v. the United States is another recently decided case that defines what Fourth Amendment rights are given to the data that is transmitted from your cell phone. Before this case, most of the data that you expose to the public was not protected, like bank records or your trash cans when you put them out on the curb. However, in Carpenter, the court again recognizes how cell phones have become an essential part of our daily lives. In Carpenter, the police arrested four men in connection with a series of armed robberies. The government was able to obtain the location records for each of the phone numbers of the men connected with the robberies. With this data, the government was able to see the approximate location where these suspects had been and were able to link them with the robberies. In a 5-4 decision just last year, the Supreme Court held that obtaining this cell site location data violated one’s legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements that were tied to the cell phones location data. Carpenter, 138 S. Ct. 2206 at 2217. The Court found that the acquisition of these cell phone location records was a search and concluding that the The government must generally obtain a warrant supported by probable cause before acquiring such records. Id at 2221. This decision shows a dramatic shift in the way the Court views technology under the Fourth Amendment. In past cases involving technology, the Court focused on what one knowingly and voluntarily shared with the outside world. The Carpenter Court takes a different approach and recognizes the unique challenges presented with our current dependence on technology. The Court states that having a mobile phone is almost a part of the human anatomy and that is indispensable to participation in the modern world. Id at 2218. With this realization, the Court states that a phones location data is not truly “shared” as one would normally understand the term to mean. Id at 2271. This data is not something we voluntarily give to our service providers, and we can’t control when our phones send the data. Recognizing the changing role technology has caused in our society, the Court now recognizes that the government’s warrantless acquisition of cell site location data is a violation of one’s Fourth Amendment rights. An American now has an expectation of privacy in their cell site location data. Data on a computer With these new decisions now standing as the law of the land, how can the government get cell site location data or search your phone? With the cell phone and data, it sends to cell towers now being classified as a search under the Fourth Amendment, the government will now need a warrant based upon probable cause in order to search a phone or get location-based data from them. It is important to note, however, that the Court did not decide if there is a limited period for which the government may obtain someone’s cell-site location data, or how long that period maybe, they simply held that the seven days the government wanted in Carpenter was a search and subject to the Fourth Amendment’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Id at 2222. This leaves the door open to potentially obtaining cell site location data for specific dates or times in conjunction with the requirements of the Stored Communications Act, however anything very broad or spanning multiple dates, times or areas will need a search warrant based on probable cause to get access to one’s cell-site location information. The Fourth Amendment is a right that can often be abused. That is why, at Gatlin Voelker, we handle our clients with respect, we listen to their concerns, and we advise them of their rights and best options. We know that illegal searches and seizures can have serious consequences. As a small, focused, local law firm, we strive to make you feel comfortable and confident with our team. Call us at 859-781-9100.

Brandon Voelker – Personal Law Attorney

If you have any questions regarding your 4th amendment rights, please don’t hesitate to contact our office today.

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Northern Kentucky workers know that they likely have a rightful claim to compensation if they are hurt in an accident at work. However, actually obtaining these benefits can be rather complicated, and you may find it beneficial to make the effort to fully understand your rights. When you know your rights, you will be able to protect your entitlements.

Workers’ compensation benefits are available to individuals who get hurt while at work, in a work-related accident or get sick with an occupational disease. The type, amount and duration of the benefits you may receive will depend largely upon the nature of your accident and the type of support you need for a full recovery.

The intent of workers’ compensation benefits is to provide employees with financial and practical support so they can get better and get back to work. What this means for you specifically depends on your limitations because of your accident and the type of care you need. Injured workers may be able to secure compensation and benefits related to the following:

  • Compensation for a portion of your lost wages
  • Medical care
  • Rehabilitation and therapy
  • Recompense for any permanent injuries
  • Retraining for a new job, if necessary
  • It can be beneficial to take quick action after a work accident to learn about the benefits to which you have a rightful claim. It is possible that your initial claim could come back denied, but that does not mean that you have to give up. You can continue your fight through an appeal.

Workers’ compensation benefits are only available for work-related injuries or illnesses. If you were hurt while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, due to violating a safety policy or if the injuries were self-inflicted, you may not be eligible for this type of financial support. What you should know to protect yourself: Knowing your rights is important, as is knowing what you should do in the event that you suffer an injury in the workplace. It is also beneficial to know your employer’s procedures for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

You would be prudent to know how to protect your interests in the event of a work accident or how to seek support if you are already dealing with a work accident injury. The workers’ compensation claims process can be complicated and daunting, but you have the right to guidance from the initial stages of your claim.

Brandon Voelker – Workers Compensation Attorney

If you have been injured at work, no matter how big or small the issue may seem now, do not put off speaking with an attorney any longer. It’s important to understand your rights before you agree to or sign anything from your employer, or insurance company.

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After being injured on the job, protecting your rights by filing a workers’ compensation claim is the clear first step — but understanding what happens next can be trickier. Once you’ve reached the “maximum medical improvement” defined by your doctor and going back to work becomes a possibility, what should you expect, particularly if you face long-term impairments from your injury? Speaking with a skilled workers’ comp lawyer is crucial for protecting your rights at each stage of your recovery. At Gatlin Voelker, PLLC, our team of skilled attorneys has over 50 years’ combined experience representing workers injured on the job throughout Northern Kentucky and the Greater Cincinnati area. We approach every case with compassionate and dedication in an effort to help our clients receive full and just compensation. Jack Gatlin, April Gatlin and Brandon Voelker for Gatlin & Voelker Law Firm - Sitting at a conference table working through legal issues For many workers who have filed a workers’ comp claim, achieving maximum medical improvement does not necessarily mean that they have made a full recovery. If you’ve been hurt on a worksite, for example, you may find yourself unable to fulfill many of your prior job functions once you’re cleared to return to work. What happens to you in these situations? It may depend on your location: In Kentucky, you have the option of requesting a functional capacity evaluation (FCE). This test is administered by a health care worker to determine which of your job duties you are capable (or incapable) of performing. Ohio has established remain at work programs that allow injured workers to stay on the job (and maintain their wages and employment status) with accommodation for ongoing functional impairments. In both states, vocational rehabilitation is possible if you face a long-term functional impairment following a workplace injury. These programs provide workers with help returning to work after an injury and may assist with funding for further job training or education. If your employer does allow you to return to work in a modified role that reflects the limitations of your injury, it’s important to understand your rights in this new role. For example, you can’t be paid less than you were awarded in temporary total disability benefits, and any restrictions that your doctor places on your duties must be followed.

Brandon Voelker – Workers Compensation Attorney

If you have been injured at work, no matter how big or small the issue may seem now, do not put off speaking with an attorney any longer. It’s important to understand your rights before you agree to or sign anything from your employer, or insurance company.

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