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February 2013 Archives

Taxes go hand in hand with estate planning, Congress talks gifts

Estate planning occurs over a lifetime. Bequeathing property upon death is certainly a part of it, but there are a variety of factors to consider and tools that can be utilized to create an effective estate plan. When it comes to estate planning, one of the most important things to consider is taxes.

Same-sex couples and divorce: Options abound

If we were to form our beliefs about divorce solely from examples in the media and pop culture, we would walk away with the assumption that the end of a marriage is always nasty, contentious and bitter. Making matters worse, virtually everyone has a friend or family member who went through the wringer when ending his or her marriage. However, it is important to know that in terms of same-sex couples and divorce, there are many options available concerning how to end a Pennsylvania union.

Property division a concern for second and third marriages

Learning from our mistakes is a simple concept, but one that many Pennsylvania residents struggle to integrate into our daily lives. In matters of love and finances, we often tend to repeat our poor choices, leading many of us to experience the same negative outcomes again and again. One area that combines these two concepts is divorce, and the resulting property division process.

A healthy dog costs $688 per year, a trust can provide for it

Pet owners love their pets; there is no doubt about that. Most even consider them to be an important member of the family. As much as we may consider our pets a true companion, the law still considers them to be property, not a person. Pets cannot inherit a gift like a brother, aunt or friend could. You can't leave your ranch to your free roaming cat or your truck to your dog because he loved riding in it.

Recluse leaves estate to 2 actors and a non-profit animal group

A very large percentage of estate plans name children or other family members as beneficiaries. Why? It isn't just about tradition. Those are most often the individuals who are closest to the testator. But what happens when someone doesn't have any children or close relatives?

How real estate appraisals factor into property division

Pennsylvania couples who are preparing to divorce often focus on the financial implications of the change in their family status. This is a valid and understandable concern, as the decisions made during the property division portion of a divorce proceeding will determine the financial stability of both parties in the months and years following the end of the marriage. One factor that comes into play in many divorces involves use of a professional real estate appraisal.

Can you disinherit an adult child?

Whether you have a large estate or a small one, you have every right to dispose of it after your death in the way you wish. There are laws on the books that limit that right to some extent -- you can't disinherit a living spouse or your minor children -- but once your kids are grown up, do you have to leave them equal shares of your estate? Could you intentionally leave nothing to one or more of your grown children?

Share mis-valuation results in 2 years of probate litigation

The widow and estate of former president of the nation's oldest theme park, Indiana's Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, won a major victory after two years of probate litigation over the valuation of shares in the small business. A judge has ruled that the president of Koch Development Co. ("KDC"), the family-owned company that owns the park, improperly valued the widow's shares in a way that cost her more than $5.2 million and majority ownership of the business.

Football star wins joint child custody in family court

When a Pennsylvania family court judge is tasked with making a determination in a child custody case, he or she has a wide range of factors to take into consideration. Chief among these is the best interests of the child or children involved. A judge will carefully review any evidence and testimony presented, and will work out a child custody plan that both parents must comply with.

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