Berman & Asbel, LLP

Philadelphia Family Law and Estate Planning Legal Blog

Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Pennsylvania But There Are Still Challenges

The right of nearly all adults to marry in Pennsylvania is a matter of law and has been since 2014, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. That does not mean that all existing walls of discrimination against same-sex couples have come tumbling down. Four years later, headlines claiming alleged discrimination still abound.

Just last month, the city of Philadelphia announced a decision to suspend city funding to two faith-based foster care agencies because they refused to work with LGBT individuals or couples desiring to become foster parents.

Can I Sue if An Injury or Death Occurs South of the Border?

Spring break is pretty much over for the college-age set. With the youth crowd back on campus and flights and rents now more reasonable, many older couples and families will take advantage of vacation deals to the warmer climate of Mexico.

Just Because an Asset is Intangible Doesn't Mean it's Not Taxable

Readers may be aware of the fairly recent news involving the estate of singer Whitney Houston. According to reports citing court documents in the case, attorneys for the estate won a significant victory by reaching an agreement with the IRS to pay $2 million in taxes. The IRS had sought $11 million, alleging that the estate had undervalued the worth of certain Houston assets such as royalties, residuals and the value of her name. A term that applies to many of the items on that list is "intangible assets".

The Houston case and others like it reflect the challenge that intangible assets held by individuals and businesses can present in terms of solid estate planning and probate litigation in Pennsylvania.

Property Basics for Unmarried Couples

People are not getting married at the rate they used to. Rather, data collected by the Pew Research Center and other organizations indicates that cohabiting among adults is increasing. Numbers reportedly rose from about 14 million in 2007 to 18 million in 2016.

While not holding legal married status, men and women in committed relationships often live as if they were. Over time, they accumulate assets and liabilities together. Co-owning a home is not uncommon; nor is co-owning a business. Many times, such couples are jointly indebted on a mortgage, or co-sign loans for each other. For many, the question that must surely spring to mind is, "What happens to all of that property and debt if the relationship ends?"

Does Your Estate Plan Encompass All It Should?

Who needs an estate plan? I don't have an estate.

Sadly, this is a widely held misconception, which is why the topic comes up so often in forums such as this post.

The truth is that an estate can be made up of all sorts of things. Big-ticket items, such as your primary residence, your vacation home, a boat or car, count. But small things with sentimental value deserve to be counted as well. Things such as a deceased loved one's wedding or engagement ring and photographs that have special significance can have value And where value is attached, there's reason to include it in an estate plan.

How the Opioid Crisis Can Trigger Increased Criminal Charges

Pennsylvania is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. The severity of the problem is clear from statistics showing that while overdose deaths are down in 14 states, they are still rising in Pennsylvania. In January, Gov. Tom Wolf declared the situation a public health emergency and issued orders so addiction sufferers can access drug treatment more easily.

What Pennsylvania Law Says About Hazardous Products Injuries

When you buy a product, you have a responsibility to use it as the maker intended and according to instructions provided by the manufacturer. On the other side of the equation, the manufacturer has an obligation to ensure that its product is safe, works as advertised and to educate users. If it does not, there is a risk of injury. If you fall victim to such negligence, you have a right to seek recovery for pain and suffering.

Drugs can have serious side effects. Batteries in electronic devices can explode with harmful consequences. Automotive equipment can degrade to the point of being hazardous and medical devices designed to save your life can kill. Deficient construction can cause injury or death. What follows is a brief review of Pennsylvania law on this issue. To secure maximum possible compensation requires the aid of highly experienced counsel.

What Makes a Product Defective?

When a product breaks or causes an injury, people often refer to it as a defective product. In the legal context, however, there is much more to it when making a defective product claim. In order to pursue a claim for compensation citing a defective product, you must be prepared to establish some critical legal elements.

Update on Tax Reform and Alimony

In a blog post we wrote in November 2017, we discussed the potential impact that proposed reforms in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 could have on alimony payments.

The act was signed into law last month and includes new rules for alimony, which will go into effect in 2019. More specifically, the new tax law eliminates the deductions for alimony payments and no longer requires alimony recipients to report payments as taxable income.

Challenging Technology Used in Criminal Cases

Technology is an inexorable part of our lives. But it has its imperfections and can create problems when we rely too heavily on it. Consider the recidivism algorithm called COMPAS that is sold to courts across the country to help determine whether someone will re-offend. Reportedly, it is only accurate 65% of the time.

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