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Pittsburgh Family Law And Estate Planning Legal Blog

How to maintain family unity during the holidays

The holiday season can be especially stressful for a parent in Pennsylvania who has recently ended a marriage. The good news is that there are ways for families to come together to have a happy holiday season even if they lack a traditional structure.

Parents will ideally collaborate to create a schedule that is in the best interests of their children. This typically means that parents will do their best to continue holiday traditions. Those who cannot continue past traditions for any reason are encouraged to start new traditions with their kids. These traditions could include celebrating holidays on different days or otherwise finding time for both parents to spend with a child. It's important to note that both parents and children can feel isolated if they aren't allowed to see each other.

What are common reasons people give for challenging a will?

Creating a last will is an act that protects you, your wishes and the people that you love the most. Although many people find it unpleasant to spend time considering their future death, estate planning can often provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing their loved ones will have support after they die, making it worth that temporary discomfort.

Sadly, after you take all the time and effort to create an estate plan that reflects on your wishes and the needs of the people who depend on you, it is possible for people in your family to challenge your wishes in court, potentially undermining your estate plan or convincing the courts to throw it out entirely.

Improve estate plans with these simple tips

Music fans in Pennsylvania may remember learning about the estate problems that occurred after the passing of Aretha Franklin and Prince. Neither singer had an estate plan in place, causing legal battles and frustrated family members. Those who have worked hard and planned for retirement also need to make end-of-life plans and organize their estate.

The first thing to do when making or improving an estate plan is to review the beneficiaries and designations. Some accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, may be transferred to beneficiaries without costly and time-consuming probates. This can be done by simply filling out a beneficiary form. Back-up beneficiaries may also be added. Next, individuals should go over life insurance benefits. It's important to have enough for funeral costs and end-of-life expenses. It is also a good way to pass the money onto loved ones without taxes.

How a divorce impacts a person's business

Most people start out their married life thinking that their love and happiness will last forever. The unfortunate truth is that a sizeable portion of marriages end in divorce. Pennsylvania residents may be interested in seeing how a divorce could impact their small business.

When a small business owner gets a divorce, the business can become part of the fight. It could end with a person completely losing their business or being forced to take on debt in order to push an ex-spouse out and prevent them from sharing ownership of the business.

Estate planning changes require new focus

When it comes to estate planning in Pennsylvania, there are a number of things people should keep in mind besides having a will and one or more trusts in place. The creation of new asset categories and the passage of new regulations in recent years have changed the estate planning landscape. It has become necessary for estate planners and people doing their own estate planning to broaden the scope of their knowledge and consider issues that were not so important before.

Among the things to keep an eye on are funding for a living trust, the estate tax and account passwords. Once a living trust is established, it still must be funded with assets in order for those assets to avoid probate. With a revocable living trust, the settlor is able to make changes to beneficiaries and trust terms. In order to fund the trust, the title for the assets must be put into the name of the trust.

Planning to move forward after divorce

When couples in Pennsylvania decide to divorce, they may have a difficult time in the immediate period following the separation. It can be challenging to adjust to a newly single life, especially after a longer-term relationship. Since almost half of first marriages end in divorce, it's wise to think about how one could recover from the end of a relationship and deal with the potential for depression and other mental health concerns.

Turning to friends and family can help an ex get through the difficult time after a divorce. They can offer warm support and a listening, understanding ear. Some may also want to consider professional support, such as that provided by a therapist. A therapist's office can provide a safe space to talk through more complex or intimate issues.

How to handle a familial adoption in Pennsylvania

When people think of adoption, they often imagine someone taking in a child whom they never met and with whom they have no relationship, which certainly does happen.

However, many adoptions that take place in the United States involve people with a pre-existing familial relationship.

Critical aspects of a power of attorney in estate plans

When crafting estate plans in Pennsylvania, there is much to consider. Frequently, people will concentrate on the basics like wills and trusts. However, some individuals can benefit from a power of attorney. Understanding the responsibilities that the agent will have when granted power of attorney is imperative.

There are certain factors to consider when selecting the agent. Once the power of attorney is granted, that individual can make financial decisions. That includes control of bank accounts, assets and more. There also is the choice of a springing power of attorney or durable power of attorney. The former is activated when the person is incapacitated. The latter is in effect once it is signed and continues if the person is incapacitated. A springing power of attorney will require proof the person is incapacitated.

Common myths to ignore when ending a marriage

Couples in Pennsylvania may believe that ending their marriages will make their lives better. While this may be true for some, there are several myths about divorce and separation that couples should disregard. One of the big misconceptions is that child custody or alimony is awarded solely based on a person's gender. Child custody rulings are made based on what is in the minor's best interests.

It is possible for a father who acts as a son or daughter's primary caregiver to be awarded legal and physical custody of that child. If a wife earned more money than her husband during a marriage, she may be the one making alimony payments. This may be more likely if a man was the one who stayed home to watch the kids while his wife went to work.

Easy steps for creating an estate plan

Estate planning can be a difficult concept for many people in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. However, it may be easier to create a plan by breaking the process into different steps. The first step is to consider who the beneficiaries of the plan will be. For the most part, retirement plans allow the owner to designate a beneficiary. The same is generally true for bank, brokerage and other financial accounts.

As beneficiary designations trump any language within a will, it may be a good idea to review them at least once a year. Adding a medical directive to an estate plan can make it easier for family members or others to determine what type of care the estate owner should receive. A medical proxy is a person who is allowed to make decisions about what sort of treatment the estate owner should get.

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