Huckabee, Weiler, & Levengood, P.C.

Wyomissing Pennsylvania Legal Blog

Taxes and the changing face of divorce

For many decades now, countless divorces in Pennsylvania have been finalized in which one spouse was ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse. These payments are often regarded as a support to the person who has a lower income and designed to allow them time to transition to being able to fully provide for themselves financially after the divorce. 

The person who pays alimony has historically been able to get a deduction on their federal income tax return in exchange for making these payments. That deduction has often helped ease the sting of paying the alimony and facilitated agreements during divorce negotiations. Then, the person who received regular alimony payments was required to report them as income on their tax return and pay federal income taxes on the funds. 

How debts are handled after death

After a loved one dies in Pennsylvania, it is necessary for you as the surviving family members to address many important legal matters, such as handling any debts that the deceased has left behind. Part of the purpose of the probate process is to settle any outstanding debts. We at Huckabee, Weiler & Levengood know that it is difficult for you to face these practical matters in the midst of your grief. It may help if you understand how the probate process pertains to the settlement of your loved one's outstanding debts.

If your loved one leaves behind outstanding debts, such as credit card balances, the appointed administrator or representative of your loved one's estate will apply assets from the estate in order to settle the accounts. The probate process begins with a petition, that is, a request to open the estate. The administrator notifies known parties with a possible interest in the estate by sending a Notice of Administration. In order to inform interested parties who may be unknown to the representative, a local newspaper publishes a Notice of Creditors.

What should I know about purchasing a franchise?

If you want to be a business owner in Pennsylvania, one option you have is to buy a franchise. A franchise allows you to own your own business that is part of another larger business. For example, you may be able to own a fast food restaurant from a national chain. You will sell all the same products that customers expect from this fast-food chain. You also get support from the corporation. However, not all franchises are created equal.

According to Canon, there are some things you must pay attention to when you buy a franchise. To begin with, you have to look at the company track record. Make sure it is a stable business. Check that it attracts customers and has a good overall reputation. This will give you a solid foundation upon which to build your own business.

Plan to avoid paying estate taxes

For all of the plans you make and the precautionary measures that you take throughout your life, there are two things you simply cannot escape from: death and taxes. Many in Wyomissing might tell you that the two go hand-in-hand. Indeed, several of those that come to see us here at Huckabee, Weiler & Levengood, P.C. are concerned that much of their estates will go towards paying estate taxes (leaving little to actually go to their beneficiaries). While it is true that there in an estate tax, you should not that there are ways to avoid having to pay it. 

First and foremost, however, you should know whether or not you will even be required to. Per Forbes Magazine, the estate tax threshold for 2018 is $5.6 million per individual. What this means is that if the taxable portion of your estate is not above that amount, you (or more correctly, your beneficiaries) are exempt from having to pay federal estate taxes. 

How can I provide support for my special needs child?

One of the most difficult concerns a parent of a child with a disability faces is how to provide the best social, emotional, medical and financial support throughout the child's lifetime. Many complications may affect this decision, such as the type of disability, parental ability to set aside funds for future support, whether the child has received a court-appointed settlement, as well as the child's likelihood of achieving mental competence upon reaching adulthood.

Adults with special needs are individuals over the age of 18 who have a medical condition or disability.

What happens to home equity when you divorce?

As someone currently making your way through a Pennsylvania divorce, you are probably experiencing considerable upheaval in your life, and your separation may affect everything from where you live to how often you see your children. While there are numerous matters you and your soon-to-be-former spouse will need to work through, one of the more significant matters you will need to address will involve what is going to happen to your shared home.

According to Nerdwallet, divorcing couples who own their homes have several options at their disposal in terms of dividing up their home’s equity. The first involves simply selling your shared home and dividing the proceeds from the sale between the two of you. A second possible option of dividing home equity involves either you or your former partner keeping the home and refinancing the mortgage to remove the other party’s name.

Business structures that limit personal liability

Regardless of the nature of the business you plan to establish in Pennsylvania, you are going to run into areas where you face possible exposure to liability. Just how much it can hurt your personal assets when someone sues or files a judgment against your company will depend on the type of business structure you operate, with some business structures protecting your personal assets far better than others. At Huckabee, Weiler & Levengood, P.C., we understand the benefits and drawbacks associated with each type of business structure, and we have helped many people looking to create their own businesses determine which business type best suits their needs.

According to QuickBooks, if you are looking to minimize personal liability within your business, you may want to consider creating a limited liability company or an S corporation, as opposed to a sole proprietorship. Why? In a sole proprietorship, there is nothing acting as a shield between you and your business, meaning if someone sues you and your business cannot cover it, your personal assets may be at risk.

What are the signs your spouse is hiding assets?

If you are getting a divorce in Pennsylvania, one of the most trying parts of the process is dealing with your marital assets. You will need to split them between you and your spouse. If you fail to come to an agreement, the court will divide your assets. While many times, the process goes smoothly, there are sometimes when a spouse tries to hide assets. Knowing the signs of this beforehand can help you to uncover if your spouse is trying to hide away money so you do not get your fair share.

One sign you may notice, according to Forbes, is the transfer of assets. This is often done discreetly and you may have to investigate to discover what is happening. Another sign is an increase is spending or expenses. A bill can easily be altered and the extra money stashed away.

What is the difference between general and limited partnerships?

The prospect of forming a new business in Pennsylvania can be both exciting and overwhelming. Based on the goals you want to accomplish and how you want to operate, one of the first things you need to do is decide on a business structure. Business structures range from the simple (partnerships and sole proprietorships) to the complex (corporations and LLCs).

A partnership is one of the simpler business structures that you can adopt but can be more complicated than a sole proprietorship because there are different types of partnerships you can enter into. According to FindLaw, there are two basic types of partnerships: a general partnership and a limited partnership.

The importance of opening a business bank account

Some Pennsylvania small business owners may find it redundant or unnecessary to open up a bank account strictly for their business. Why go through all the trouble of setting up a new account when you can use your existing one to write checks and receive deposits? However, in reality, setting up a business account is both a wise and in many cases the legally prudent move.

Chron.com points out a having a business account can work wonders when it comes time to organize your expenses. Remember that you have to track expenses for the purposes of filing your taxes, and you would likely find it a major pain to have to separate all of your personal expenses from those related to your business. The mere fact that you have a bank account devoted to your business lets you know that everything in that account pertains to your company.

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