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Pittsburgh Legal Blog

Prenups better than separate accounts in divorce

Marriage looks different than it did in past generations, with millennials deviating from many trends and expectations set by their parents. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though. Marriage and divorce are simply evolving to adapt to new societal standards and the expectations of today's young adults. However, there are some important protections that millennials are overlooking, and it could harm them in the long run.

Watching their parents go through bitter divorces left many millennials in Pennsylvania understandably concerned about protecting their assets in marriage. A seemingly easy way to do so is to maintain separate bank accounts even after saying "I do." Not only does this easily determine whose income is whose, it also prevents one partner from maintaining singular control over the marital funds, which can be problematic during divorce. But despite what many young adults believe, keeping their money separate does not guarantee that it will be protected during divorce.

Estate planning: The need for a special needs trust

Parents in Pennsylvania and across the country want to ensure that the needs of their children are met. Often, they work hard to leave them funds after they pass. As such, careful estate planning can help ensure that any assets left to children are cared for until an appropriate dispersal time. Depending on the needs of a child, a special needs trust may be the best option. 

A special needs trust plays an important role. Because owning assets valued at over $2,000 can jeopardize a person's eligibility for some public funds, how assets are passed to a special needs child is extremely important. Fortunately, a special needs trust does not count toward this amount.

How to have a better relationship with your co-parent

If you are no longer in a relationship with the parent of your child, it is likely that the two of you have gone through some difficult times. However, it is important to put your differences aside for the sake of your child. This is easier said than done because this requires the cooperation of both parties.

If you are struggling to collaborate effectively with your co-parent, you may blame them for being stubborn, easily aggravated and unreasonable. While you cannot control their behavior, you can control your reactions to their behavior. This can, in turn, have a profound effect on the way that they behave. The following are some simple actions that you can take to solve issues in your co-parenting relationship.

Will an important part of estate planning process

Even with all of the technology available today, some Pennsylvania residents still prefer the old-fashioned pencil and paper method. Whenever a thought comes to mind, it can simply be added to the list or a notation made on a piece of paper. This method may be great for day-to-day activities; however, when it comes to estate planning, a more formal process is generally preferred.

It may appear to be a good idea to simply list who should receive what and who should take care of things when the individual dies. However, this approach can lead to unnecessary cost and controversy. In some cases, a handwritten will may be acceptable, but there can be a number of problems associated with this approach. Questions regarding the will's validity can easily arise.

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.

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