Attorney and Counselor at Law
mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
(412) 288-0303 ext. 113
1600 Law and Finance Building, Pittsburgh PA 15219
In our estate planning services, we will work closely with your accountant and financial advisor to ensure that your children and grandchildren get your estate, not the tax collector. For information on simple wills and probate, see will and trust information.
If you have more substantial assets, generally over $600,000 for an individual or over $1,200,000 for a married couple, proper planning to minimize the federal estate tax is imperative. Certain assets may be subject to federal tax (income and estate) in excess of 75% of their value if not properly treated in your will. Don't forget that life insurance can be fully taxable for federal estate tax purposes.
If you have young children, proper planning for their custody in the event of your death is extremely important. See trusts below for more information.
We handle proceedings in chapter 11, chapter 13 or chapter 7 on behalf of business and individual debtors. We also handle creditor's cases in bankruptcy court.
If you have fallen behind in paying debts and it appears that you will not have the money to satisfy your creditors, you should take action rather than let the situation become worse. Your lawyer will interview you and prepare a bankruptcy petition for chapter 7 or chapter 13.
When the bankruptcy petition is filed with the Bankruptcy Court, you will receive the protection of an "automatic stay" under which all listed creditors will be prevented from further collection activities. The court will send notices to all creditors listed in the petition, ordering a halt to collection efforts against you, including most proceedings in state courts. The court will also set a date for your first meeting with your creditors. At that meeting, creditors may question you about your property, debts, and other facts relating to the bankruptcy filing.
Under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most types of debts will be discharged, allowing you to make a "fresh start". You will probably be able to keep you car and home if they are not yet paid for. But if you have substantial assets, or a lot of equity in your home, a chapter 13 may be required.
You may receive a discharge of your debts under Chapter 13 where you retain your assets, but must provide for a Plan to pay your creditors all, or a portion of, their claims within 36 to 60 months. This is done under court supervision with an appointed trustee.
Chapter 13 is useful when you are far behind on your mortgage, but want to keep your home, or when you need to repay certain debts, such as back taxes, which cannot be discharged.
Wills and trusts are at the core of every estate plan. Whether you have a large or small estate, a will is essential to ensure that your assets are distributed as you wish.
You may also want to set up a trust. There are two basic types of trust, the living trust and the testamentary trust. Living trusts are often used to avoid probate, but they do not avoid any death taxes. Testamentary trusts (ones set up by your will) can be used to protect children and provide for their proper care and custody if both parents die.
When the will is probated, an Executor or Executrix named in the will is appointed as the personal representative. The general duties of the Executor are to collect the assets, pay the bills, and distribute the remainder of the Estate as the will directs. The Executor will file an Account with the Court, who will approve it and dischage the Executor from liability. The probate process is easily handled with the assistance of your lawyer.
Pennsylvania has no fault grounds and fault grounds for divorce. There are two types of no fault grounds: First, in a divorce by mutual consent, the court will grant a divorce 90 days after the filing of the Complaint in Divorce if both parties sign Affidavits of Consent. Second, if only one spouse wants a divorce and the parties have been separated for at least two years, then a divorce will be granted if the other party does not deny the two year separation or that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In a divorce proceeding a party may request alimony, child support, custody, equitable distribution of marital property and reimbursement for attorney's fees and other expenses related to the divorce litigation. The divorce code provides that all property acquired by either spouse during a marriage, with certain exceptions, is marital property regardless of who holds title to the property. If the parties cannot agree to divide the property between themselves then the court will do it for them according to equitable principals. This does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. The court will consider economic and non-economic (homemaker) contributions to the marriage as well as the parties financial prospects for the future.
IF YOU DO NOT FILE A CLAIM FOR ALIMONY, DIVISION OF PROPERTY, LAWYER'S FEES OR EXPENSES BEFORE A DIVORCE IS GRANTED, YOU MAY LOSE THE RIGHT TO CLAIM ANY OF THEM.
Matters of child custody, child and spousal support and protection from abuse are also handled in Family Court. Pennsylvania follows rule that the best interests of the children prevails in all custody cases. Custody may be divided or one parent may be granted partial custody. Support will be granted in accordance with guidelines made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. A protection from abuse order may be granted where one spouse has been injuring to threatening the other, or the children.
We offer a full range of litigation on both business and other matters, in all state and federal courts.
Personal injury matters, such as auto accidents, malpractice, slip and fall, workers compensation and the like are usually handled on a no recovery - no fee basis, with the lawyer receiving a percentage of the money recovered from the defendant or insurance carrier.
We handle incorporations, partnership formation and dissolution and business contracts, negotiations, litigation and collections, including representation of secured and unsecured creditors in bankruptcy proceedings. Frequently, the need to go to court over a business matter can be avoided if your lawyer is contacted early in the process to ensure that your contract is valid and enforceable.
Frequently we get calls from people who have have been stopped for minor traffic violations, only to find themselves in unexpected trouble on a DUI (driving under the influence, sometimes called DWI). Many times police officers make mistakes and a DUI can be beat, or you may be eligible for ARD (accelerated rehabilitative disposition) instead of a jail term.
We have fourteen lawyers in our office who handle virtually every type of legal matter, including many not listed above. If you're in town, stop by for a cup of coffee.
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