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October 2014 Archives

Using a living trust in Pennsylvania

A living trust is a legal arrangement that protects an individual's assets and distributes them according to his wishes. The history of living trusts goes back at least a few centuries, with early trusts being called inter vivos trusts as a way to avoid confusion with testamentary trusts that are set up upon a person's death.

Going through probate in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the probate process must be started if an individual dies with property in his or her own name. The probate process begins with the executor or administrator of the deceased person's estate handling assets and other affairs for the deceased. The person overseeing the estate is called an administrator if the person appointed by the courts or an executor if he or she is specifically named in a will. Either an individual or a corporation may oversee an estate during probate.

Understanding different types of child custody

Child custody in Pennsylvania has two forms: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make decisions that affect the child's health and welfare. Physical custody determines where the child will live, is further divided into four types: primary, partial, shared and visitation. Child custody cases are decided by judges who base their decision on several factors. Legal custody is most often shared by the parents, but physical custody arrangements can be more complex.

Creating a special needs trust

Some readers from Pennsylvania may be interested in establishing a special needs trust for their children. Special needs trusts are intended to allow a disabled child to supplement their government benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, while still providing for a child's financial future. Through a properly established special needs trust, a child can benefit from the trust's assets without losing eligibility for these government benefits.

What is a separation and property settlement agreement?

Before a husband and wife divorce in Pennsylvania, they may choose to legally separate. When this occurs, the two parties may come to a written agreement called a separation and property settlement agreement. This agreement spells out who gets custody of the child, when visitation may occur and whether or not spousal or child support payments will be made.

Advantages of living trusts

Pennsylvania residents may choose to establish a living trust in order to make certain that their wishes are carried out after their passing. A living trust may replace a will or work in conjunction with one. Although there are similarities between a revocable living trust and a traditional will, they both have advantages for particular situations.

Understanding legal unions or domestic partnerships

A domestic partnership can exist between two people of the same sex or those of different sexes in the state of Pennsylvania. Most of the domestic partnerships that exist are between those who are of the same gender. They often live together in the same home, and some states recognize the partnership as legal so that the couple can receive certain benefits.

Factors Pennsylvania courts consider in child custody cases

In Pennsylvania, courts take a number of factors into consideration when determining which parent will be awarded primary physical custody, if the custody will be jointly shared and whether legal custody will be joint or solely held by one party. In making the decision, judges always keep in mind what is in the best interests of the child or children involved. Courts give added weight to any relevant factors that potentially affect the safety of the child or children.

Tax considerations when planning an estate

It is important for Pennsylvania residents to consider their estates and decide how their life savings and assets will be divided between heirs, charities and other groups. There is more to consider than just which people should be included in the division. The Internal Revenue Service taxes the estate taxes on the amount leftover after final income taxes, debts, funeral expenses and gifts to charity are deducted from the original estate amount. Currently, the IRS only imposes taxes on estates valued at more than $5.34 million. Once the taxes are paid, the balance may be distributed to the names heirs.

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