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Pittsburgh Legal Blog

Full disclosure needed in estate planning

The average Pennsylvania resident attempts to paint his/her family in the best possible light. This means that some details are left out of conversations, and information regarding family dynamics, finances and other significant details are kept hidden. While this is often the best policy in social situations, it can lead to problems if the same strategy is used when it comes to estate planning.

Intimate discussions regarding a wayward child's drug addiction or gambling problem may need to be kept off social media; however, they should be discussed with one's estate planning attorney. There are steps that can be taken to protect the individual's estate and the beneficiary in light of his/her problems. Additionally, there are times when an individual may decide not to leave assets to a particular child or relative. This information needs to be shared with the estate planning attorney so as to structure the estate to ensure that assets cannot be claimed by this individual.

Business law considerations when starting a second business

After launching a successful business, it is not uncommon for a Pennsylvania entrepreneur to consider starting a second business. Far different from simply opening a new branch of the existing company, this often means beginning from scratch with an entirely new model, a new product or service, and a new strategy for success. Maintaining one successful business while starting a new one may require a delicate balance and some solid business law advice.

Those who have succeeded in opening a second business recommend taking one's time in getting the new business started. It is important for an entrepreneur to put the same energy into maintaining the existing business and to keep oneself financially afloat. It may be wise to schedule time for building the second venture and allow it time to grow slowly while continuing to operate the first company.

Collaborative divorce is one option to avoid litigation

Pennsylvania couples going through a divorce may be pleasantly surprised at the choices they have. No longer do divorces occur only in the courtroom where spouses battle for every decision and sometimes walk away enemies. One of the more popular options is a collaborative divorce. While similar in some ways to mediation, collaboration has its unique features that may be more appropriate for certain situations.

Spouses who are able to find middle ground in their breakup may not need a long courtroom scene to dissolve their marriages. Using alternative dispute resolution like mediation or collaboration, they can reach decisions about their future together. Unlike mediation, collaboration does not include a third-party facilitator. Instead, the parties may call on professionals in other areas, such as finances or child advocacy, but mostly, they spouses meet together with their individual attorneys to work through their differences collaboratively.

These 5 co-parenting tips can save you from a lot of stress

Even if you're looking forward to putting your marriage in the past, you may still have some concerns about the future. This is particularly true if you have children with your ex-spouse.

Co-parenting is challenging on many levels. From arguments over what's best for your children to questions about parenting time, it always seems like there's something else to figure out.

Estate planning with unusual assets

An important part of estate planning and probate is verifying and protecting the assets within an estate. It may be relatively easy to secure real estate and keep track of bank accounts, but for those with unusual or easily transportable valuables, extra precautions may be necessary to prevent them from disappearing before the heirs can obtain them. Items such as art, jewelry, weapons, coins and other collectibles may require a few extra steps in one's estate planning.

It is easy for certain transportable items to get lost or taken. Naturally, someone in Pennsylvania with valuable items may take precautions against this, such as purchasing a safe, using an alarm or storing the items in a safe deposit box. Purchasing insurance is also a smart way to protect one's investment. However, documentation may be the key to including such items in an estate plan.

Taking on a mortgage after divorce is a major decision

When ending a marriage, the decisions made can have effects on Pennsylvania residents for years to come. It can be difficult to make certain choices because arrangements that seem fitting now may not prove as useful later on. This may be especially true when trying to decide what to do with the family home during divorce.

Taking on a mortgage is a major financial responsibility, and if a person wants to keep the home, it is wise for him or her to ensure that it will not cause an unnecessary financial burden later. If that assurance has been made, it is then important to determine how the mortgage will be handled. Some parties may find that they can work together and maintain a joint mortgage even after divorce, and others may feel it is the sole responsibility of the person keeping the property to pay the mortgage.

Proceeding cautiously with a later-in-life divorce

When an older couple decides to end their marriage, it can take a significant financial toll on their future. Gray divorce, which is a divorce involving two people age 50 or older, can have various implications on things such as retirement and long-term savings. With fewer years remaining to work, save and recoup financial losses, these are serious matters a Pennsylvania reader would be wise to consider if he or she is moving forward with a later-in-life divorce.

The rate of gray divorce has skyrocketed, and there are many reasons for this. People are living longer than ever, and they may feel they want a chance at happiness in their golden years. However, these divorces can be quite complex, especially when the couple has been married for decades and has lived together, worked and saved for retirement together for a number of years. 

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. 

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