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Pennsylvania Law Blog

You’re buying a house. Who pays the realty transfer tax?

While Pennsylvania does not have a mortgage tax or revenue stamps, it does have a realty transfer tax. When buying property, the tax is the responsibility of both the seller and the buyer. The tax is usually split between both participants.

Splitting the tax is usually easy because it often amounts to 1 percent for the state and 1 percent for local government and schools.

Holiday Presents

Every year we think of gifts to give our children or grandchildren during the holiday season. Your children or grandchildren may already have many of today's coolest gifts, ear buds, beats, iWatch, sunglasses or even a Canada Goose jacket. What to do, what to do???

This year, think about a gift that keeps on giving, funds for educational expenses. Many of my clients are already familiar with 529 Plans, but did you know you can also use a trust for educational expenses?

"Giving Tuesday" and Charitable Donations

Holiday time 2018 is upon us and, in addition to the gifts we'll give to family and friends, it's also a time to think about charitable giving. A 'Charitable Donation' is a gift made by an individual or an organization to a nonprofit organization, charity or private foundation. Charitable donations are usually in the form of cash, but can also be real estate, motor vehicles, appreciated securities, clothing and other assets or services.

Three Things You Should Know About Moving to a Nursing Home

Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month begins on November 1. Alzheimer's Disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks," according to the Alzheimer's Association. This disease affects more than 3 million people in the US each year.

Tax sales can be deals or disasters in disguise

If a homeowner or the owner of commercial property fails to pay property taxes, that property may eventually be sold by a city or county municipality at a tax sale (also known as a sheriff's sale or an upset sale). These sales are part of the foreclosure process as stipulated in Pennsylvania's Real Estate Tax Sale Act (RETSA).

In a tax deed sale, the property is often sold for the amount due in unpaid taxes, plus interest and fees. Acquiring a property at a deep discount may seem too good to be true; in some cases, it is. Veteran and inexperienced real estate investors alike have entered into tax sales they thought they researched thoroughly only to discover it wasn't the deal it appeared to be.

When Your Dream Kitchen Turns into a Nightmare

Has this ever happened to you? Your friend tells you about her great plans to renovate her kitchen - new cabinets, granite counter tops, maybe a stainless steel fridge, but when you ask her how the project is going a few months later, she sadly shakes her head and replies, "Can you believe it? We paid the contractor half of the money up front for supplies, he started the job, but then he just disappeared and my kitchen is a wreck."

Don't Make This Mistake!

As you probably know, the "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16 after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. The singer, a mother of four, never made an estate plan, leaving her "intestate," which means died without a will. Now her four children, including a son with special needs, will have to go to court to have her estate probated and these matters will no longer be kept private. Additionally, according to her state's law, when a person dies without a Last Will and Testament the assets of an unmarried mother are divided equally among her children.

Answer these questions as you prepare your finances for divorce

As you ponder life after divorce, a good portion of your attention will turn to your finances. Although things are sure to change, especially if you were not the primary breadwinner in your marriage, there are steps you can take before and during your divorce to put yourself in the best possible position for success in the future.

Here are five important questions to answer as you prepare your finances for divorce (and the years to follow):

  • Do you have copies of all your most important financial records? You'll need this during the divorce process and maybe in the future. These can include but are not limited to: bank account statements, retirement account statements, pay stubs and life insurance policies. You can never collect too much information.
  • Do you have a clear idea of your assets and debts? You don't want to assume you'll work through this as you move through your divorce. It's best to get everything in order as soon as possible. For example, make a list of both joint and separate property.
  • What is your credit score? This doesn't seem important, until you realize that it is a big deal when applying for a loan. Maybe you want to buy a house or a car after your divorce is finalized. With good credit, this is possible. With bad credit, you'll run into some issues along the way.
  • What's the best way to cut expenses? You don't necessarily have to do this, but if you're going from two incomes to one, it's probably in your best interest.
  • Where can you turn for help? Although you know your finances better than anyone else, there may come a time when you require some assistance. From a tax professional to a financial planner or an experienced family law attorney, there are people who can show you the way.
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