Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer. The information on this site is not a substitute for legal advice, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. This information is general and educational in nature. You may reproduce materials available at this site for personal and non-commercial use.  Distributions of these materials should include the copyright notice.  For any of the issues you are interested in, seek the advice of a qualified legal professional.


Where can I verify Ms. Fioritto's credentials?

Verify Nancy Fioritto’s status with the Ohio State Bar.

What are Ms. Fioritto's diplomas & certificates?

  • Cleveland Marshall College of Law, Cleveland Ohio.   Juris Doctor earned May, 1986. Admitted to practice in Ohio, October, 1986. Supreme Court Registration No. 0037637
  • St. Michael’s College, Winooski, Vermont.  Master of Arts earned May, 1976
  • Kent State University, Kent, Ohio.  Bachelor of Science earned December, 1969
  •  Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Panel
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Certified Arbitrator (No.  A55283)
  • Guardian ad Litem (GAL), Certified for the State of Ohio and County of Cuyahoga

What languages does Ms. Fioritto speak?

Ms. Fioritto’s native language is English. She speaks and writes Italian. Avvocato Fioritto parla e scrive italiano.

What are Fioritto Law's Fees?

Initial 30-minute consultation at no cost.

Attorney Hourly Charge (Non-Litigation) $200

Attorney Hourly Charge ( Litigation) $250

Simple Will $150

Living Trust $1,000 to $3,000

Immigration Petitions and Applications $1,500 to $5,000

Mediation $1,500 to $3,500

Consultant Fees $1,000 to $2,000

* Fees may vary depending upon the complexity of each case. Scheduling payments will be discussed individually per client and case.

Family Law

I'm thinking of ending my marriage. Where should I start?

You can start by knowing your options.  Divorce should not have to be rife with conflict. Separating couples can choose between a divorce or dissolution.

In a divorce, one of the couples files a complaint for divorce in the domestic relations division of the local common pleas court.  In a divorce case, the court may end up resolving any issues that the parties cannot settle between themselves. In a dissolution of marriage in Ohio, the husband and wife file a joint petition where both parties are requesting the court to grant the same relief, namely, that their marriage be terminated and that their separation agreement that is attached to the joint petition be reviewed and approved by the court.  The separation agreement must settle all property disputes and all issues pertaining to spousal support, child custody and visitation, property division, and payment of marital debts. Before filing for dissolution, the couple can mediate the terms of their separation agreement. The outcomes of the mediation are then used to file for dissolution.

I am planning to marry again. Should I explore a premaritial agreement?

Premarital agreements (also referred to as prenuptial and pre-marriage agreements) are particularly useful for people going into a second marriage. Couples who marry for the second time already have accumulated assets, and they have children from previous marriage. These agreements address issues of separate property and marital property, handling of debts, beneficiary and retirement plans and inheritance.

Postnuptial agreements are also gaining in favor. These agreements are created after the marriage when couples have had an opportunity to review their circumstances more clearly.

Living together contracts can serve the same function as pre- and postnuptial agreements between unmarried or cohabitating couples regardless of sexual orientation. These contracts can address the end-of-life wishes of each partner in addition to addressing property issues.

I am living with my partner. Should we consider a living together contract?

Living together contracts are similar to pre- and postnuptial agreements.  They work out important issues, namely, the ownership of property before living together, property that inherited or gifted during the relationship, property purchased during a relationship, the sharing of expenses, the division of property upon separation or death, and methods of resolving disagreement in the event of disputes. Living together contracts provide a greater sense of security for cohabiting couples. They characterize an important part of the relationship, and they are legally enforceable.

Estate Planning

What are some of the advantages of having a trust instead of a will?

Trusts enable you to determine who receives the money, when they receive it, and what conditions must be met. A living trust can be either revocable (you can change your mind) or irrevocable, depending upon your needs. Besides certain tax advantages, if a living trust covers all of your assets, then you may not even need a will. Many people wish to spare their relatives from going through probate, and living trust assets are not subject to probate. Because there is no probate, survivors do not have to reveal the extent of the living trust’s assets through a public filing as happens with probate. A living trust covering property in other states may allow survivors to avoid probate in those states. Aside from the advantages for the survivors, a living trust can help you easily manage financial affairs as a trustee. The trustee takes over the administration of the trust’s assets. Some people are particularly concerned about how their finances will be managed if they should fall ill. A living trust may provide peace of mind because a trustee can continue to manage the trust’s funds should you become mentally or physically incapacitated.

What is probate and how does it work?

When an individual dies owning property in his or her name, that property generally must go through probate. The probate system is designed to ensure the validity of a will, to give notice to all possible claimants of property and to resolve ownership disputes and rights.

Probate courts also distribute property in the absence of a will according to state statute. Some property does not require probate to change hands: joint tenancy property, contractual arrangements such as insurance policies and retirement accounts generally go directly to survivors or beneficiaries.  Also, probate is not required for assets held in trust.

When property does go through probate, the court first establishes whether the deceased left a valid will. If so, the probate process guides the division of property in accordance with the will’s provisions. If the will is not valid, the court applies state laws to divide up the estate. The probate court signs off on the final accounting of the distribution, thereby finalizing the transfers of ownership.

When is it useful to become a guardian?

A guardianship is an involuntary trust relationship in which one party, called a Guardian, acts for an individual called the Ward. The law regards the ward as incapable of managing his or her own person and/or affairs. A  guardian is any adult person, association, or corporation appointed by the Probate Court to assume responsibility for the care and management of the person, the estate, or both, of an incompetent person or minor child. A corporation can only be guardian of the estate and not of the person.  A guardian may be appointed for either an incompetent or minor, which are defined by statute. An incompetent is considered any person who is mentally impaired as a result of a mental or physical illness or disability, or mental retardation, or as a result of chronic substance abuse. As a result, an incompetent is incapable of taking proper care of himself or herself or any property or fails to provide for the family or other persons for whom the incompetent is charged by law to provide, or any person confined to a penal institution within this state.  A minor is any person under 18 years of age who has neither father nor mother or whose parents are unsuitable to have custody and tuition of such minor, or whose interests, in the opinion of the Court, will be promoted.

What is a financial durable power of attorney?

A durable financial power of attorney authorizes the attorney-in-fact to act on behalf of the principal, even after you become incapacitated or incompetent. For a financial power of attorney to be durable, it must include the words, “This power of attorney shall not be affected by the disability of the principal or lapse of time.” If it does not include these or similar words, then it is not durable. Non-durable financial powers of attorney are very rare because they terminate when the principal becomes incapacitated or incompetent.

What is a health care power of attorney?

The decision you make regarding your healthcare and treatment preferences at the end of life are extremely important. A health care power of attorney (or “durable power of attorney for health care,” sometimes known as a “DPOA”) is a legal document that authorizes another person to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. A health care power of attorney:

1) names an individual you trust to make a wide variety of health care decisions for you at any time you cannot do so for yourself, whether or not your condition is terminal;

2)  becomes effective only when you cannot make your own decisions regarding treatment;

3) requires the person you appoint to make decisions that are consistent with your wishes; and

4)  will not overrule a living will if you have both documents. You may hear this referred to as “advanced directives” because it communicate your health care wishes in advance of needing to employ  them.

What is a living will?

Many people will want to have a living will in addition to a health care power of attorney.  A living will applies in only limited end-of-life circumstances, whereas a health care power of attorney covers all other situations concerning your medical care whenever you cannot make health care decisions for yourself.  Through a living will, you can state your preferences regarding aggressive, life-prolonging treatment. You may also hear this referred to as “advanced directives” because it communicate your health care wishes in advance of needing to employ them.

How else can I easily protect my assets?

There are two common and simple ways to avoid probate without preparing a living trust – using joint accounts and using payable on death accounts (POD), also called transfer on death accounts (TOD). An account is owned jointly in the names of two or more people and it is designated “with rights of survivorship.”  When one account owner dies, the surviving owners will simply continue to own the account. All that the surviving owner will need to do is show the bank or investment company a death certificate of the deceased owner and then the deceased owner’s name can be removed from the account. If you have real estate, vehicles or securities, you can register these assets to transfer on death (TOD) to a beneficiary. In registering them in this way, you must name the beneficiaries to whom ownership of the asset will transfer upon your death. When the owner dies, the beneficiary can transfer the asset by using the owner’s death certificate.


Who is considered an immigrant?

Immigrants are those who live permanently in the United States.  Synonymous terms for immigrant status are: Permanent Resident, immigrant, green card holder, and resident alien.

Who is considered a non-immigrant?

This status is for people who enter the U.S. on a temporary basis – whether for tourism, business, temporary work, or study. A person who has entered the U.S. in nonimmigrant status is restricted to the activity or reason for which entry was allowed. Some people may have more than one visa in their passport, but they can only be admitted into the U.S. in one type of nonimmigrant status at a time.  Most nonimmigrant visas are issued only to applicants who can demonstrate their intentions to return to their home country.

Who is considered an alien?

An alien is any person not a citizen or national of the United States. A foreigner who is a permanent resident of the country in which he or she resides but does not have citizenship is considered an alien. To fall under this classification in the U.S., you need to either currently have a green card or have had one in the last calendar year. You also fall under the U.S. classification of resident alien if you have been in the U.S. for more than 31 days during the current year along with having been in the U.S. for at least 183 days over a three-year period that includes the current year.

Who is considered a permanent resident?

Permanent residents are aliens admitted to the United States as lawful permanent residents. They are also commonly referred to as immigrants; however, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) broadly defines an immigrant as any alien in the United States, except one legally admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories. An illegal alien who entered the United States without inspection, for example, would be strictly defined as an immigrant under the INA but is not a permanent resident alien. Lawful permanent residents are legally accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States. They may be issued immigrant visas by the Department of State overseas or adjusted to permanent resident status by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States.

Who is considered a citizen?

Citizenship in the United States is a status that entails specific rights, privileges, and duties. Citizenship is understood as a “right to have rights” since it serves as a foundation for a bundle of subsequent rights, such as the right to live and work in the United States and to receive federal assistance. There are two primary sources of citizenship: birthright citizenship, in which a person is presumed to be a citizen provided that he is born within the territorial limits of the United States and whose parents are citizens, and naturalization, a process in which an immigrant applies for citizenship and is accepted.

Who is considered a visitor?

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), tourism, pleasure or visiting (visa category B-2), or a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2). The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, when they meet all requirements explained below. Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.