Huckabee, Weiler, & Levengood, P.C.

Wyomissing Pennsylvania Legal Blog

What is inheritance tax?

When you plan your estate and have everything in order, you probably think that once you die, there are no worries. Unfortunately, that is not true. While you may have no worries, your loved ones could be hit with an inheritance tax. It is important to understand what this is and how it works, so you can plan your estate accordingly to avoid these taxes if possible. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue explains inheritance tax is a percentage rate based on your heirs' relationship to you that is charged on what they receive from your estate. Not every relative you leave something to will be charged this tax, which is something to keep in mind as you arrange your estate plans. If you leave everything to your spouse or your children who are under the age of 21, they will not pay anything. However, older children would pay a 4.5 percent tax. 

What is a buy-sell agreement?

Whether you have an established business or are starting a new one in Pennsylvania, you should always have your eye towards the future. Things come up often that could drastically change your business. It is better to be prepared than be caught off guard. One situation you want to be ready for is any change in your partnership or owner status. You can prepare for this with a buy-sell agreement. 

As the name suggests and as defined by Forbes, a buy-sell agreement outlines how someone can buy into a business and how an owner can sell their portion of a business. If someone wants to become an owner of your business, this agreement helps to outline the process and details of how that can be done. This helps to eliminate issues with other owners and ensures everyone is on the same page in regards to adding someone to the business. 

How long do I have to pay child support?

If you have been ordered by a Pennsylvania court to pay child support, you may wonder how long you will have to pay. It can sometimes be difficult to make your payments and put a financial strain on you, so it is understandable that you want to plan for when your support order ends. When a court makes a child support order, it may includes an end date. Otherwise, you have to follow the general laws. 

According to the Department of Human Services, you are expected to provide financial support in most cases until your child is 18 years old. However, there are many exceptions which may apply in your case. For example, if your child has a disability or debilitating medical condition, you may be required to continue paying support long after he or she turns 18. In addition, if your child has not yet graduated high school when he or she reaches age 18, support is usually continued. 

Common executor mistakes

If your loved one named you an executor over his or her estate, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all the responsibilities the role might entail. In addition to dealing with the emotional aftermath of your loved one’s death, you must also now navigate the estate administration process, which, in some cases, can prove highly complicated.

As important as recognizing what to do as an executor is understanding what not to do in your role; learning some of the most common mistakes executors make can help you learn to avoid making the same errors yourself. So, if you have the duty of handling your loved one’s estate after his or her passing, make every effort not to do the following:

What are the requirements for a legal will?

Having a will is a good idea to prevent issues after your death. It can enable you to ensure your assets are distributed the way you want them to be and to provide for your minor children. However, if your will is not properly written and created following Pennsylvania law, then it could be deemed invalid by the court, leaving your assets in the hands of the state. 

Fortunately, the Pennsylvania General Assembly has laid out the guidelines for writing a legal will. The requirements are rather simple and require attention to the signatures included in the document. You must sign the document to make it valid. If you cannot sign, you may make a mark to represent your signature as long as you have two witnesses who also sign to validate your mark. You may also have someone else sign on your behalf, but there must be two people to sign and it must be done in your presence. Signatures must go at the end of the document, but if there are words after the signature, they will not invalidate the will. 

Deciding if a sole proprietorship is right for you

Aspiring Pennsylvanian entrepreneurs may be a little overwhelmed when first tackling all of the rules and regulations associated with starting a business. One thing they may have heard is that sole proprietorships are the easiest of all business structures to manage, but just how true is that?

FindLaw does show that setting up a sole proprietorship is relatively simple. This is because it's meant as a structure for a solo business. In other words, these are extremely small businesses only run by one person. There are no employees involved, and because of that, a sole proprietorship doesn't need to register as a separate business entity for tax-related purposes. In some cases, you don't even need to file paperwork in order to have a working sole proprietorship.

How are pets handled in divorce?

Your pets are a part of the family. When you get a divorce in Pennsylvania, it may become a struggle to figure out where the pets go. Do you get them or your spouse? Who has the right to a pet? Are pets handled by the courts in the same way as children? When it comes to Pennsylvania law, CBS explains that pets are considered property in a divorce.

This can make things difficult. You probably do not look at your pet as property, like it is a piece of furniture or a car. The idea of dividing the ownership of pets based upon property rules can be upsetting, but that is the way the law sees pets. In fact, the highest court in the state set precedence in a case involving a man trying to get visitation rights for his dog after a divorce. The ruling became known as Barney's law and stated clearly that pets are property. They are not subject to vistation and other custody rights. It also says that whoever has physical custody of the pet gets to keep it, and even custody agreements that may have been included in a divorce agreement are not enforceable.

Why the name of your business could land you in court

Picking out a name for a Pennsylvania business seems like a no-hassle proposition, especially compared to the legal hoops a business owner has to jump through in filing the correct paperwork, drawing up articles of incorporation, and preparing the right bank accounts. However, you might find a hidden liability sneaking up on you just by naming your business. It seems strange to believe, but giving your business the wrong name may actually land you in court.

Given the large number of companies that exist, there is a chance that when you pick out a name for your business, someone else might have picked that name before you did. Having the same name as another business can confuse potential customers when they search for your company online. Also, according to Findlaw, a business that has already chosen the same name as your business has likely filed it as a trademark, which is protected under federal law. The other business may decide that you have infringed on their trademark and could take legal action against you.

Is your business a sole proprietorship?

One of the important aspects of forming a business in Pennsylvania is deciding on the business form you will use. You have options, but the most common for a person forming a business by themselves is a sole proprietorship, as explained by Entrepreneur. This business form is the easiest to create because it requires no legal steps. You are operating the business as the sole owner, so you do not have to worry about partnership agreements. You are not forming a legal entity, such as a corporation, so you do not need to file any special legal documents in forming your business.

As a sole proprietor, you may only need to file forms to set up your business name if you are not using your name as the business name. You also have to handle taxes, licenses and permits, but you can do all this easily because you are the sole owner of the business and can sign all the necessary documents yourself. 

Divorce: What happens if we comingle non-marital property?

One thing many Berks County couples do not give much thought to unless they separate involves combining their personal assets. Divorce is often challenging enough when establishing spousal and child support, custody and parenting time. When concerns arise regarding the division of assets, re-dividing the property is not always as easy as it was to combine. 

Property and assets that benefit a marriage are shareable. Anyone who is thinking about marriage or divorce should consider the following information about separate and marital assets

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