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Pennsylvania Law Blog

Parents can protect their children and assets by preparing a will

The idea of dying is not something that most Pennsylvania residents like to consider. However, not making plans for what will happen after a person's death could have serious consequences. This is especially true for parents, considering the fact that if a parent does not name who they would like their children's guardian to be, the children could be placed in foster care. Clearly laying out who will receive specific assets can prevent a lot of conflict.

It is necessary for a person to plan for every scenario. This includes determining who will get specific assets and when they will receive them. This will help to ensure that the assets are handled in a responsible way.

Moving away from the parent of your child

Not every divorce ends on good terms. Negative feelings can linger after the dissolution and you may wish to not see your ex any longer. You think that you’ll just pack up the belongings of you and your child and move away from them.

Unfortunately, moving away from your co-parent isn’t so simple in Pennsylvania. If your co-parent has joint custody or visitation, you must likely have a court approve your move. This is to keep custody fair for both parents rather than just the parent with primary custody.

21st-century business ideas with great potential

Up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania have a variety of business opportunities available that have the potential to thrive. The best choices for individuals revolve around their personal abilities and market growth areas.

Young people who have grown up participating on social media platforms might have the knowledge to launch successful social media services companies. Many companies have a constant need to stay visible and encourage social media engagement. Content creation services also have a large market because businesses need a continual flow of fresh content for their websites. Almost any form of content, including writing, video and audio, could form the focus of a content creation business.

Beneficiary designations important to estate planning

When people in Pennsylvania plan for the future, it can be important to think about beneficiary designations as well as traditional options like writing a will. Once people have written a will or planned a trust, they may need to check to make sure their beneficiary designations are up to date and reflect their overall plans for their estate. Many types of accounts and assets do not pass through probate but are transferred on death through the naming of a beneficiary. The most well-known of these are life insurance policies, but retirement accounts, investment funds and even regular bank accounts may transfer in the same way.

In some cases, people can run into problems because they forget to change a beneficiary despite life changes that have taken place. In the most common example, people may not remove a former spouse as a beneficiary or add a new spouse, despite years of changed relationships. In some cases, it may be possible to correct the error after the distribution, but it requires significant evidence and a substantial cost in fees.

GM study says automated safety features reduce car crash risk

Drivers in Philadelphia can reduce car crash risks with the help of advanced driver assistance systems. ADAS was the subject of a recent study from General Motors, and though the study focused on GM vehicles, the results have been echoed by other studies covering a broader range.

The study involved 3.8 million vehicles, models years 2013 to 2017, that were involved in crashes. GM and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute compared the crash risk of vehicles with ADAS to those without ADAS. The benefits of automatic emergency braking became clear with AEB almost cutting the number of rear-end collisions by half.

Using a life insurance policy and a trust in estate planning

Some people in Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia who are creating an estate plan might want to consider using a life insurance policy or a trust as part of that plan. There are a number of advantages of using the two in combination. This would involve setting up the trust as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy.

The estate tax deduction is high enough that few people need to use this combination to save on taxes, but there are other benefits. Cash from a life insurance policy can be used to fund a trust in need of money. Trusts have administration expenses, and an influx of money from a life insurance policy can help with those costs. Trusts also offer more flexibility when it comes to naming additional beneficiaries in case the main beneficiary does not live long enough to inherit. A trust allows a person to specify when and how those benefits will be distributed.

3 worst estate planning mistakes to avoid

No one likes to think about death, but a lack of proper estate planning can cause confusion and turmoil for your family once you’re gone. Too many people fail to follow through on creating a plan, while others don’t update their plans after significant changes occur.

Some people in Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia believe estate planning is for older people and something to do later, while others may think they don’t have enough assets to worry about creating a will, trust or other option to pass along their money and property.

Estate plans can see to the needs of pets as well as heirs

Incorporating the needs of dogs or other companion animals in an estate plan would have raised eyebrows just a few years ago. However, pet provisions in wills and pet trusts are commonplace in Pennsylvania and around the country today. A pet of some kind can be found in two out of three American homes, and many of their owners take great comfort in knowing that their animals will be taken care of should something happen to them. However, including pets in a will may not be the wisest way to accomplish this as the probate process is lengthy and pets could languish in a shelter for several months as it runs its course.

Estate planners often use trusts because they allow estates to avoid the probate process. Furthermore, they provide a reliable way to make sure pets are cared for according to their owner's wishes. Adding pet provisions to an existing trust or creating a separate pet trust allows pet owners to set aside care money and designate a trusted individual to look after their companion animals.

Backing out of a contract to buy a home

In Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, buying or selling a home often falls through for various reasons. A buyer may later decide they no longer want to buy a home after their offer has been accepted. In this case, a complex legal matter may ensue. However, it is possible to get out of a signed real estate contract if the prospective buyer includes escape options before the signing.

A quick answer to the backing out issue is that a buyer can get out of an accepted real estate offer if the signed contract has contingencies. This legal option also enables most buyers to obtain refunds on their earnest money. However, sellers and realtors are not fond of buyers who back out of their contracts. A contract must stipulate specific reasons that make backing out a legally acceptable option.

The pros and cons of short-term mortgages

First-time homeowners in Pennsylvania are often faced with the dilemma of determining which mortgage option is best for them. The two main possibilities are short-term and long-term loans. Here's a closer look at the pros and cons of the short-term option.

Homeowners with a high-paying job and a stable source of income may benefit from a short-term mortgage. This is typically a 15-year loan with higher monthly payment. On the positive side, a short-term loan can help a new homeowner build equity on their home faster. Another perk is the ability to save money by enjoying lower interest rates. This arrangement could also be preferred if a homeowner doesn't have other significant debt obligations that may stretch their budget.

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Vinsko & Associates, P.C.

Wilkes-Barre Office
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Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702

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