Huckabee, Weiler, & Levengood, P.C.

Wyomissing Pennsylvania Legal Blog

What does it mean to be a fiduciary?

Creating an estate plan involves becoming informed about all the various terms and what they mean. One term that trips up many individuals is "fiduciary."

Basically, a fiduciary is a person who has accepted the role of taking care of someone else's money and assets. It is a position that requires a great deal of trust and confidence. Although many people use the terms "fiduciary" and "financial advisor" interchangeably, it is critical to remain aware of the differences. This will allow people to make decisions in their own best interest. 

Why you should have legal counsel during divorce mediation

Not all divorces end up in court. Some Pennsylvania couples, seeking to exert greater control over their divorce and to try and come to an agreement amicably, will choose to take their divorce before a mediator. However, just because a couple elects to mediate their divorce does not mean there is no need to retain legal counsel. In fact, having an attorney present for the mediation process can be vital in making sure the mediation agreement can be enforced.

With a divorce meditation, the two spouses can mutually negotiate an agreement outside of the judicial system with the assistance of a mediator. Once an agreement is finalized, the agreement is submitted to the courts to take effect. However, according to Forbes, it is possible for a mediation to produce an agreement that the courts will not enforce.

The pros and cons of forming multiple businesses

You may have an exciting idea to start a brand new business in the state of Pennsylvania. However, many creative people do not have just one idea. What if a Keystone State entrepreneur has an idea for a printing company and a lawn mowing business at the same time? It would seem strange to form a business that offers both services, so the entrepreneur may choose to form two businesses instead. Like any business venture, you should consider the benefits and drawbacks to starting up two or more businesses at once.

Perhaps the most important benefit is that by creating multiple businesses, you have isolated each business from possible litigation. According to entrepreneur.com, if a client sues one of your businesses, the other businesses will not be affected by the suit. Keeping your businesses separate can also keep the financial difficulties of one business from dragging down the other companies you own, since each business will have its own cash flow and profit margin.

Beneficiary designations can trump a will

Imagine you have just finished composing your last will and testament. You might believe that your will has covered everything you want to happen after you die. However, your work may be far from over. In fact, a Pennsylvania will can actually be superseded by other documents, particularly financial documents in which you have already designated a beneficiary.

The problem with wills is that if they conflict with beneficiary designations, the designation is very likely to win. CNBC.com quotes a financial planner as saying that beneficiary designations are the “go-to document” when it comes time to distribute the assets of a decedent. So for instance, a person may want a child to receive all the assets from a retirement pension, but if the pension’s designated beneficiary is an ex-spouse, the pension is highly likely to go to the former spouse instead.

Can my ex-spouse take half of my business?

Dividing a business in an Ohio divorce is one of the more complicated topics in family law. Your situation, if your business qualified as community property and you could not reach an immediate agreement on its division, would likely involve your legal team and that of your former partner performing lengthy valuation and discovery techniques before entering into similarly time-consuming negotiations.

Two situations that might speed up the division process for a business are, as briefly mentioned above, if the assets of your business are your own separate property or if you are able to reach an agreement without argument regarding who gets the company. The latter would probably depend mostly on the attitude of your ex-spouse. If there is no interest on the opposing side in the ownership or operation of your business, then it is likely you could easily negotiate a fair-value replacement for the assets it represents.

The pros and cons of general partnerships

Starting your own small business with other partners is exciting, but certain aspects of it can be daunting. If you have concerns about what type of business structure you should choose, you are not alone.

A general partnership may be a good choice for you depending on your unique business needs. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of starting a general partnership. 

Joint custody keeps parental ties strong

Sometimes Pennsylvania couples who have shared everything for years decide to end their marriage. When they do, they have countless decisions to make about un-sharing all the things that once tied them together. One of the most important of those decisions is how to share custody of the kids.

If neither spouse has abused the children, research shows joint custody is the best arrangement. In fact, the Institute for Family Studies states explicitly: "In the 54 studies - absent situations in which children needed protection from an abusive or negligent parent even before their parents separated - children in shared parenting families had better outcomes than children in sole physical custody families." 

What are roles of an estate executor?

Dealing with the death of a friend or family member is often accompanied by strong emotions of grief and loss. If you have been named as the administrator of an estate in Pennsylvania, you may feel even more overwhelmed. The estate executor has many crucial responsibilities in finalizing the finances and property of the deceased’s estate. Once given this important role, you must ensure that you fully understand what is being asked so that you can perform the role to the best of your ability.

Depending on the specifics of the situation, you may be asked to put the estate through the probate process. However, if the funds were left in a trust before the deceased passed away, they may avoid going to probate. It is your job to protect and maintain the estate while you find and contact the beneficiaries named in the last will and testament. As the administrator, you must calculate the value of the estate, including property, assets, vehicles, term life insurance policies, antiques and art. You may choose to have an estate sale in order to liquidate the property, making it easier to transfer to the beneficiaries named in the will.

What is the best type of corporation to sell?

Pennsylvania entrepreneurs unfamiliar with the various incorporation structures usually shy away from certain types of business formations. After all, there are some that seem to carry advantages above others. If you are considering these questions before you form your business, then you might already be a step ahead of your competition.

Most small business owners or startup leaders tend to operate right from the beginning with a solid exit strategy. Depending on the type of organization you intend to run, a C-class corporation could be an interesting structure in this regard.

It takes a team to end a marriage

As you might imagine, our divorce clients at Huckabee, Weiler, & Levengood, P.C. often hold working collaboratively as one of their lowest priorities. After all, they are typically nearing the end of a significant partnership in which teamwork, compromise and mediation have failed. However, we usually advise our clients here in Pennsylvania to work together with their spouses and our extended network of experts to obtain the best possible resolution for their own interests.

While you might assume that you would gain more independence from a divorce, the opposite is often true — at least in the short term. The initial stages, including mediation, discovery and litigation, would be more likely to feel like you were inviting everyone into your relationship. We find this is especially true when our clients' spouses do not wish to comply with reasonable requests.

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