News

LIVING TRUSTS – REVISITED

If you created a Living Trust or a Revocable Trust years ago when the Federal Estate Tax Laws were completely different than they are today, it is a good idea to have the Trust reviewed by an attorney.  It may no longer be appropriate to have your assets titled in the Trust, and it can even be harmful from both a tax standpoint as well as an estate administration standpoint.  It may now be advantageous to have the Trust updated or even revoked.  In some instances, a Trust may have been created, but the assets were never properly transferred to the Trust, which entirely defeats the purpose of the Trust. 

Even if you have established a Trust, it is still important to have an appropriate Will and other estate planning documents in place. There are instances where a Trust is beneficial, but frequently under the current Estate Tax Laws, a Trust serves to create an additional layer of complexity to administering an estate, and there is typically no Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax or Estate Tax benefit.

PYFER REESE STRAUB GRAY & FARHAT PC is here to assist with your estate planning needs and to help you navigate through the complex process of estate planning and administration.  Our experienced attorneys can provide you with an individualized plan to meet your needs.  Contact us today at 717.299.7342 for a convenient appointment with one of our Attorneys: Christopher C. Straub, Sandra Edwards Gray, Albert J. Meier, and Linda F. Gerencser. 

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YOURS, MINE AND OURS

The key question in nearly all divorce matters is the division of property.  Spouses typically have property acquired before the marriage, during the marriage, and after the marriage.  Under 23 Pa.C.S. §3501, marital property is defined as all property acquired by either spouse during a marriage and the increase in value of non-marital property. The “entirety” of the marriage is from the date of marriage to the date of separation.  Any property acquired or any growth of a marital asset after date of separation is non-marital property, unless marital funds are used to acquire the new asset.  The increase in value of non-marital property may be offset by losses on non-marital property. For example, if one spouse brings two investment accounts to a marriage as pre-marital property, the gain in one account may be decreased by the loss in the other account.

You can control how property passes.  For example, marital property can also be excluded through a pre-nuptial agreement. And gifts and inheritances from others are excluded from marital property even if received during the marriage.  A gift or inheritance to one spouse will remain as the sole property of the spouse if the gift or inheritance is not placed in a joint account of the spouses. Once the funds are placed in a joint account or a joint asset is purchased with the funds the gift or inheritance becomes marital property. All marital property is subject to equitable distribution at the time of divorce.

You should be aware there are special rules that apply to transferred property. Attempting to classify property during a divorce can be an overwhelming and emotional process.  The attorneys at Pyfer Reese Straub Gray & Farhat PC. have more than a century of experience guiding clients through this difficult process and protecting their property rights.  Please contact us today to help you determine what is “yours, mine and ours” but more importantly, to help you preserve what is rightfully yours.

 If you need to discuss your property rights, contact our office at 717.299.7342 to schedule a consultation with one our experienced Family Law Attorneys Christopher C. Straub, Sandra Edwards Gray, Gerryanne P. Cauler, Jeffrey C. Murse, Albert J. Meier and Daniel C. Bardo.

~Gerryanne P. Cauler, Esquire

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As a Non-Biological Parent, What Are Your Custody Rights of a Child?

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently recognized the custody rights of non-biological parents in R.L. v. M.A., 2740 EDA 2018.  In the case, a couple decided to have a child using the egg from the biological mother and the sperm from a relative of the non-biological mother.  The non-biological mother helped decorate the nursery and selected the child’s first name and was present at the birth of the child.  The couple broke up soon after the child was born.  Initially the non-biological mother had custody of the child every other weekend and when the child was two (2); but the couple agreed to share 50/50 custody.  When the child turned five (5), the couple had a dispute and the biological mother attempted to stop all custody rights of the non-biological mother.  The trial court gave 50/50 custody, finding the non-biological mother in loco parentis and therefore eligible for any form of custody.  In loco parentis means “in the place of a parent.”  Under Pennsylvania Custody Law, an individual who has in loco parentis status can seek primary, shared or partial physical custody of a child.

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Social Security Disability Income vs. Supplemental Security Benefits

There are many circumstances in which an individual may need government financial assistance and one of those circumstances is the need to apply for social security benefits.  Fortunately, the experienced Attorneys at Pyfer Reese Straub Gray and Farhat are well-versed in these circumstances and recognize when you may be eligible for such benefits.

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IS THE PERSON WHO IS LIVING IN YOUR HOUSE UNWELCOME?

Most people are not aware that if they have a domestic partner or significant other residing with them in their own home, it may be difficult to force that person to leave the house.  If your paramour/significant other refuses to leave the house when you request that they do so, and you change the locks on the door and put their possessions in the front yard, the police may advise them that they have a right to enter the house because it is “their residence.”  

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Exile is not a Sentencing Option for Corporate Defendants

While corporate criminal cases are rare in Pennsylvania, companies are not immune from criminal prosecution. If convicted, a trial court may subject a corporation to fines and harsh probation conditions, but it cannot ban the company from operating in the Commonwealth.

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DO YOU WANT A CLEAN SLATE?

On June 28, 2019, the second phase of Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law went into effect.  Under this law, criminal history information about eligible summary and misdemeanor offenses will automatically be sealed, i.e., removed from public view if an individual has been free from arrest or prosecution for ten (10) years after conviction or release from prison or supervision, whichever is later.  Continue reading

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You signed an Agreement Not to Compete with your former employer.

You signed an Agreement Not to Compete with your former employer.  Can that former employer keep you from working at your new job?

Perhaps there is a Noncompetition and Confidentiality provision included with the employment contract that you had previously signed when you worked for your former employer.  Or, maybe you did not sign an employment contract but you did sign something called “Agreement Not to Compete” when it was shoved at you for signature along with the other usual personnel documentation.  Now you are ready to move on to a new job opportunity.  Should you first review that Noncompetition and Confidentiality provision/Agreement Not to Compete that you signed with an attorney?

The answer is yes. Continue reading

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Warrantless search not justified when to delay it would not have put anyone at risk!

The exception to the warrant requirement for domestic violence calls does not apply once the victim is no longer at risk. In those circumstances, the police must get a warrant.i

Police in Franklin County responded to a domestic violence call. When they arrived, the victim told them that her boyfriend fled during an argument that she feared would turn violent. She reported that her gun and ammunition were missing, along with a few other items. Police knew that he was a felon, and therefore, could not legally possess a gun. They also thought that he was headed for a house in Chambersburg.ii Continue reading

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DOUBLE JEOPARDY AND COMPULSORY JOINDER RULES

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania: The Commonwealth may not prosecute other crimes after disposition of related summary charges.

Once the courts dispose of summary offenses, police cannot go forward on other charges from the same criminal episode. The Pennsylvania legislature’s double jeopardy and compulsory joinder rules stop the Commonwealth from prosecuting misdemeanor and felony charges after a verdict on related summary offenses.

In Philadelphia, police charged a man with driving without his lights on and three counts of driving under the influence. The Municipal Court found him guilty of driving without his lights. He, later, moved to dismiss his DUI charges because they were barred by the Pennsylvania double jeopardy rules. The trial court agreed and dismissed the charges. Commonwealth v. Perfetto, ___ A.3d ___, 7 EAP 2018 at pp. 4-6 (Pa. 2019). Continue reading

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