Law Offices of Kathleen D. Schneider
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Pittsburgh Legal Blog

Business law: Do I need contracts for every employee?

Contracts can protect Pennsylvania business owners in many circumstances. It is wise to have a contract with customers when performing a service so both sides understand the expectations and obligations. Employee contracts are also a helpful part of business law since they can clarify what an employer requires of workers and what the worker can expect in return. However, some positions carry an implied contract that does not need a formal agreement.

It may be difficult to know when a contract is beneficial, but some guidelines may be helpful. For example, if an employee has special skills or will undergo extensive training for the job, an employer may find it difficult to replace that worker. A contract may restrict the worker's ability to quit or motivate him or her to commit to a long term employment.

Do you need to amend a tax return from a previous year?

Tax season is in full swing, and for many people this can be overwhelming. Tax laws are complex, and recent changes in the tax code drastically changed how many people prepare their returns and anticipate refunds or necessary payments. Unfortunately, this process can also bring to light further complications if a person or business realizes that they made errors or used incomplete information while filing taxes in a previous year.

If you find that you need to amend a tax return, it is wise to take this matter seriously and give it the attention and resources that it deserves. Failing to straighten out these issues can lead to problems with the Internal Revenue Service, which are famously difficult to navigate. Make sure that you have proper legal guidance and resources as you amend a tax return, to keep your rights protected and ensure that you do not create even greater problems.

Collaborative divorce succeeds when parties stay focused

Pennsylvania and other states are amenable to alternative dispute resolutions in court cases,  including in the family law arena. A collaborative divorce is often most desired by those who have young children because it is based on the parties working together to find a peaceful resolution and exit strategy. The impact on the children will thus be far more benign than in a bellicose divorce action that includes bells, whistles and unleashed emotions that reverberate like earthquakes against the courtroom walls.

However, in order to make it to the collaborative settlement table, the parties have to temper those kinds of ill feelings. An adult state of mind must prevail. Where the emotions run wide and unbridled, a collaborative divorce is going to be hard to achieve. It will take work for some participants to get to that point where they can put a lock on their emotional triggers. 

Common mistakes that can derail a divorce settlement

Ending a marriage is a complex and difficult process, and it is easy to allow temporary emotions to drive the decision-making process. However, Pennsylvania readers know it is prudent to set aside anger and frustration and focus on what will really work best well into the future. Mistakes during divorce can affect a person for years to come, and every person walking through this process would be prudent to know how to avoid them

One mistake that people often make during divorce is failing to get all of the information they need. Both sides must provide full financial disclosure. When a person does not have all pertinent documents and access to the right information, it can lead to a lopsided settlement. Additionally, a person would be wise to avoid the mistake of failing to consider the tax implications of any settlement.

Trusts are part of estate planning re addicted children

The tragedy of drug addiction has hit every state, including Pennsylvania. With heroin and prescription painkillers increasingly responsible for addiction and overdose, few families are untouched by the issue. Watching an adult child become entangled with substance abuse is the worst nightmare of many parents, and it adds a new challenge to the already complex process of estate planning.

Parents who are writing their wills and preparing their estates may be conflicted about how to handle the child who is in the throes of addiction. Often, these parents have already spent untold amounts of money trying to help their child, whether through rehab programs or legal matters. Handing a lump sum of cash, such as an inheritance, to a child with a substance abuse problem can be a death sentence, but disinheriting the addicted child may offer the child little hope for recovery.

Careful planning can avoid tax issues in 2019

It may be too late for many Pennsylvania taxpayers to make a difference in their taxes for 2017, but this is the perfect time to prepare for next tax season. In light of the many new tax rules the federal government enacted last year, many are seeking advice about the best ways to avoid tax issues on their returns for the 2018 tax year. Of course, the point is to keep one's tax bill low and to take advantage of every opportunity to save money.

Some advisors recommend that taxpayers start with a clean slate by assuming everything has changed. Enough of the rules are different this year, including changes in standard deductions, that a mistake could cost a taxpayer considerably. For example, while child tax credits have increased, so have the qualifying income limits, so many taxpayers may qualify who were not eligible in the past.

New tax rules in 2018 could leave some people vulnerable

Tax laws in the United States frequently change from year to year. Issues like the cost per mile someone can claim or the credit you receive for each dependent may change to reflect current costs and the modern economy. It's important for all taxpayers to understand their obligations for filing and paying taxes, as well as all the permissible deductions and credits that can limit how much they pay.

Broader reform to tax laws can also have profound implications for the tax obligations of the average worker. The 2018 tax season will likely leave some people in a difficult position. Some experts believe that a significant number of Americans are not withholding adequate money from their paychecks to cover the changes in taxes, especially at the state and local levels.

Technology often contributes to divorce

There is no question that technology is a vital role in modern life. Even those in Pennsylvania with minimal technology in their homes may have a computer or mobile device, and motor vehicles are equipped with programs and devices that practically operate the vehicle automatically. However, when it comes to marriages and relationships, studies show that too much technology can have a negative impact on the way people communicate. In fact, it may be one of the contributing factors that leads a couple to divorce.

More marriage counselors and divorce attorneys hear from clients that social media had a devastating effect on their relationships. It is not unusual for couples to have difficulty communicating face to face the thoughts and feelings they may easily share on Facebook; sending a quick text has replaced conversation between many spouses, and this leads to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Perhaps more urgently, social media and other technologies allow people to connect with others outside their marriage. Whether rediscovering an old romantic interest or seeking a new one, a partner has access to apps and forums that allow one to stray from his or her spouse, often without leaving the room. Even without meeting in person, a spouse can have an emotional affair that can have a ruinous effect on the marriage.

Business law advocate can help form solid strategic plan

Creating a strategic plan for a business is a complex undertaking, but a Pennsylvania business owner can use such a plan to keep his or her operations focused on the future. Whether one is starting a new business or already has an established venture, defining objectives, strengths and weaknesses can set one's business on the path to long-term success. Having a business law professional as an advocate may be an added advantage.

Besides evaluating what is happening within the business, savvy entrepreneurs have a finger on the pulse of their industries. They know what their customers want and how their competitors operate. Obtaining this information should be the first step of any strategic plan, and from there a business owner can take a critical look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, also called SWOT, within the company.

Estate planning for special needs children

Welcoming a child with special needs into the family means accepting a lifetime of joys and challenges. If parents understand that the child may be dependent on them for the rest of his or her life, they carry a heavy responsibility. They also know the time may arrive when they will not be around to care for the child. This is where careful estate planning can provide important safeguards.

Pennsylvania parents of special needs children likely seek any financial means possible to assist their children with their medical and educational necessities. This may include benefits offered by the federal government, such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. These government benefits require the recipient to have less than $2,000 in assets, so leaving a special needs child an outright inheritance could seriously compromise his or her eligibility for those important federal benefits.

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