Wyomissing, Pennsylvania Family Law and Estate Planning Blog

January bring on divorce season

Marriage can be hard and as we know, not all of them work out. And throughout the year, marriages end for many reasons. According to the American Psychological Association, the divorce rate in the United States is anywhere from 40 to 50 percent.

While divorce filings happen in all months of the year, attorneys’ offices see a surge in divorce inquiries and filings starting in January and continuing through March. The first Monday after the holidays brings an uptick in divorce traffic for attorneys with a lot of requests to start the process. Not all will end up filing, but there are many questions about how to begin the process and how it will work.

Mistakes executors make

Being asked to be the executor of a will is an honor–someone believes that you are trustworthy, responsible and competent. However, since the job comes with many important legal responsibilities, it can also be a challenge. To complicate things, an executor is often a trusted family member who in addition to trying to settle the estate, may be dealing with their own emotions from the death.

Many executors underestimate the responsibilities ahead of them and the job can be overwhelming. At the time of a death, a person’s assets and property become part of an estate. The assigned executor is responsible for following the wishes set forth in the will and administering the estate including, among other things, distributing assets and paying off debts or taxes.

Before beginning a business together

Getting started in a new business is an exciting time. You may already have someone who has been by your side while you have gotten started or you may be feeling the need to bring someone along so to make your workload easier.

Choosing a partner for your new business can be tricky. While you may feel obligated to choose a certain person who has been a friend and confidant through the early stages, that person may not be best suited for your business and the goals you have. Here's what to consider before creating a formal partnership.

How both contested and uncontested divorces work

Pennsylvanian residents have numerous options available to them when it comes to calling it quits with a significant other. Today, we will take a look at two: uncontested and contested divorces. Each one can benefit different couples in unique ways, though they also have their own drawbacks.

Make the terms of your financial trust clear

The specter of divorce leads many Pennsylvania couples to fear for their money or property. Can they safeguard their belongings from being divided up in a divorce? The dividing line between separate and marital property is not always clear. Putting your assets in an irrevocable financial trust is one way to possibly avoid losing them in a divorce, just as long as the terms of that trust are clear.

Avoiding the inheritance tax

There are several potential ways to avoid or minimize the burden of Pennsylvania's inheritance tax on a given estate, but all of them are specific to a certain set of conditions. Some of the most prevalent current strategies include establishing trusts, giving to tax-exempt entities and carefully choosing heirs.

Trusts are usually the tools that afford the highest level of control over estate assets. These alternative wealth-management structures largely bypass inheritance taxes in various ways, by separating control and ownership, for example. 

Strong networks and successful businesses

At Huckabee, Weiler, & Levengood, P.C., we are proud to represent Pennsylvania business owners and families. We believe that our support prepares them for success by clarifying plans, advising on structures and helping to make business formation more efficient.

We also are thankful for many of the other professionals that provide similar support. We are happy to give our clients the legal advice they need as they are starting up — but we do not do it alone. We would like to take some time to acknowledge that there are many other people that go into making a new business successful.

What is equitable distribution during a divorce?

If you decide to divorce, you will have to divide up your marital assets. You may be wondering, and even a little concerned, about how this will be done.

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means the court will distribute the property of both parties as it sees fit.

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.

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1136 Penn Avenue
Wyomissing, PA 19610

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