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Why You Need an Attorney at a Real Estate Closing

Why You Need an Attorney at a Real Estate Closing

For most folks, there’s no investment more substantial than the sale or purchase of a home. The transaction involves a substantial number of complex documents, from the purchase agreement to the deed, the mortgage, financing documents and title commitments. In a transaction of this magnitude, it’s just good sense to hire an attorney to ensure everything is in order. But you also want your lawyer to go to the closing.

Why You Have a Closing

The primary function of the closing is to ensure the simultaneous transfer of the property to the buyer and payment of the purchase price to the seller. At the closing, the buyer will typically make payment in a form previously agreed upon. If there’s still an existing mortgage on the property, the closing agent will prepare a check to pay off that mortgage from the proceeds of the sale, so that the buyer takes the property free and clear of the prior mortgage. At the closing, the seller will also sign the deed and give it to the buyer, thereby conveying possession of the property. The closing agent then registers a new deed with the appropriate local governmental office (usually a register of deeds).

The Benefits of Having a Lawyer at a Closing

In most instances, your lawyer will review the proposed closing statement before the actual closing takes place. However, you want your attorney at the actual closing to deal with any unanticipated contingencies, and to confirm that everything is as expected:

  • Identifying and addressing any potential cloud or defect on title
  • Ensuring that the deed provided is what was agreed upon
  • Verification that all promised repairs or modifications in the buy-sell agreement have been made
  • Making certain the seller doesn’t try to change any terms at the last minute, or try to back out without sufficient legal reason

Contact Our Experienced Real Estate Attorneys

Send us an e-mail or call our office to schedule an appointment to learn how we can protect your rights in a real estate transaction. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

What Happens If You Die without a Will in Pennsylvania?

What Happens If You Die without a Will in Pennsylvania?

There’s a common misperception that, if you die without a will in Pennsylvania, no one will know what to do with your property and your heirs will have to fight it out in probate court. To the contrary, Pennsylvania, like other states, has laws that specifically provide for the distribution of assets when a person dies without a will. Such a person is considered to have died “intestate,” and the distribution of the estate is governed by Pennsylvania’s laws of intestacy.

Contrary to another common myth, the laws of intestacy do not give all the deceased’s property to the state. Here’s an overview of the general distribution set forth in the Pennsylvania intestacy laws:

  • If there are no surviving children — If you die leaving a spouse, but have no living children or parents, your spouse is entitled to the entire estate. If you have no surviving children, but a parent was alive at the time of your death, your spouse gets the first $30,000 and half of any residuary estate. Surviving parents will share the rest of the estate.
  • If there are surviving children — If your spouse survives you, and all of your surviving children are also the children of your spouse, your spouse will get the first $30,000, plus half of any remaining property. If, however, you have any surviving children who are not the offspring of your surviving spouse, your surviving spouse only gets half of the estate (and is not entitled to the first $30,000).
  • No surviving spouse — If your spouse predeceased you, your entire estate will go to your children. If you have no surviving children, the estate will be divided equally between your parents. If you have no surviving spouse, children or parents, the estate will go to your siblings or their children. If you had no surviving siblings, any living grandparents may share the estate (half to paternal and half to maternal grandparents). If there are no grandparents, the estate goes to your uncles, aunts and their children and grandchildren. Only if there are no such surviving relatives will the estate go to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys

Send us an e-mail or call our office to schedule an appointment to discuss any legal issue affecting your business. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Factors That Can Affect the Validity of a Will in Pennsylvania

Factors That Can Affect the Validity of a Will in Pennsylvania

People do some pretty strange things when it comes time to divide the property of a loved one. It’s not uncommon for potential heirs to engage in wrongful conduct to gain advantage in estate matters. There are, however, ways that you can contest a will. Here are the most common factors that can be used to challenge the validity of a will:

  • Failure to meet formality requirements — In Pennsylvania, a will must meet certain technical requirements to be valid. It must be in writing, and it must be signed at the end of the document. Pennsylvania courts have ruled a will to be invalid because it was signed at the beginning of the document.
  • Misrepresentation or fraud — A will may be declared unenforceable if it can be shown that that testator (the person executing the will) was misled into believing it was something other than a will
  • Forgery — A will can also be rendered void if it can be proven that the testator never signed the will and that any signature on the will was forged
  • Undue influence — If you can show that someone named in the will exerted improper or undue influence on the testator, when the testator was in an intellectually weakened capacity. Undue influence in Pennsylvania requires that you show a confidential relationship between the person receiving a substantial benefit and the testator. The person may be a family member, caregiver or a person with power of attorney. Furthermore, there’s no requirement for undue influence that the testator lacked capacity, only that the testator’s “reasoning power, factual knowledge, freedom of thought and decision, and other characteristics of a fully competent mentality” be impaired.
  • Lack of capacity – For a Pennsylvania will to be valid, the testator must have been “of sound mind.”

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Send us an e-mail or call our office to schedule an appointment to discuss your estate planning needs. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Protecting Your Estate with a Will in Pennsylvania

Protecting Your Estate with a Will in Pennsylvania

Regardless of the size of your estate, you want to make certain your property passes with minimal stress to your loved ones and in accordance with your wishes. One of the best ways to do that is by drafting and executing a “last will and testament.”

Uses of a Last Will and Testament

A valid will can be used to accomplish a number of objectives, including:

  • The orderly distribution of your assets, as well as payment of all final obligations
  • The designation of a person to act as guardian of your minor children
  • The designation of a person to manage any assets or property that you leave to minor children
  • The creation and funding of a trust to benefit loved ones
  • Charitable giving

Though you are not legally required to retain an attorney to prepare and execute a will, it’s money well-spent to do so. An attorney can help you take the right steps to minimize the risk of misunderstandings by beneficiaries—your heirs will be thankful if you use a lawyer to ensure clarity in the distribution of your property.

Pennsylvania does not require that a will be notarized, but does mandate that the will be signed in front of at least two witnesses, and that the witnesses sign the document as well. It’s often easier, though, if you have the will notarized, because then it will be considered to be “self-proving.” If a will is not “self-proving,” there are additional steps that you must take during the probate process to demonstrate the legitimacy of the will.

Other requirements for a valid will in Pennsylvania include:

  • The person executing the will must be at least 18 years old
  • The person executing the will must be of sound mind
  • The will must be in writing

Contact Our Experienced Estate Attorneys

Send us an e-mail or call our office to schedule an appointment to learn how we can assist you with your estate planning needs. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Will a Pre-Existing Injury Prevent You from Recovering Workers’ Compensation?

Will a Pre-Existing Injury Prevent You from Recovering Workers' Compensation?

In Pennsylvania, when you have been hurt on the job, you have a right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits if you can prove two things: that you were hurt and that the injury occurred while you were working. What happens, though, if you had suffered an unrelated injury in the past, off the job, and you have an accident at work that causes that old injury to flare up? Can your employer deny you benefits because the original injury was not work-related?

In Pennsylvania, an injured worker cannot be denied workers’ compensation benefits solely because the injury relates to a pre-existing medical condition. If the old injury never healed, and that’s was causing your current disability, you may find it difficult to get your claim approved. However, if it’s an aggravation of a prior injury, you may be able to recover benefits.

The key, in most cases, is whether you can show that some current activity or accident at work made the condition worse. If you played baseball in college and suffered a torn rotator cuff, limiting movement in your shoulder, you may not be able to recover workers’ compensation if you take a job that requires a lot of heavy lifting and you experience pain in the old injury. However, if you fall at work or are involved in some traumatic accident that causes new pain or injury, that claim may be approved.

Contact Our Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

The workers’ compensation process can be complex and intimidating, and many legitimate claims are initially denied. Don’t risk the denial of benefits to which you are entitled. Send us an e-mail or call our office to schedule an appointment to discuss your rights related to a workplace injury. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Was Your Injury Work-Related? – Part Two

Is Your Injury Work-Related—Part Two

In the aftermath of a workplace injury in Pennsylvania, you have a right to seek workers’ compensation benefits, provided you can show that you suffered an injury and that the injury occurred while you were on the job. In an earlier blog, we looked at whether injuries suffered on a break or while traveling are covered by workers’ compensation. Here are couple other situations where your employer may try to deny your workers’ compensation claim by alleging that your injury did not happen during the course of your employment.

Injuries Sustained at a Company Outing

Many companies have team-building events, such as golf outings or trips to concerts, shows or other attractions. Unfortunately, people are often hurt on these excursions, and employers will attempt to argue that no work was conducted at the event, so any injury suffered was not work-related.

As a general rule, you are entitled to pursue workers’ compensation benefits for injuries you receive at a company event or outing, whether or not attendance is mandatory. Your claim may be denied, though, if your employer can show that you behaved unreasonably and that behavior caused your injury. For example, if you became inebriated at a company function and fell and hurt yourself, you may have a difficult time recovering workers’ compensation benefits. If your employer provided the alcohol, though, you’ll have a better chance of recovery.

Injuries Caused by Your Own Carelessness or Misconduct

As a general rule, workers’ compensation is available regardless of fault—your employer must provide you with benefits regardless of who caused the accident. However, if you intentionally injure yourself, or if you engage in behavior that you know is in violation of company policies or safety guidelines, you could lose your right to recover workers’ compensation benefits.

Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys

Send us an e-mail or call our office to arrange a meeting to discuss your work-related injury. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Is Your Injury Work-Related: Part One

Is Your Injury Work-Related—Part One

In Pennsylvania, to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you must show that the injury suffered occurred during the course of your employment. In many instances, there’s little doubt that the accident was tied to your job. There are, however, some situations where the connection may not be as clear, or where your employer may try to argue that the injury wasn’t work-related.

Injuries that Happen When You Are on a Scheduled Break

Labor laws require that most employees be given periodic breaks, including time off for meals. If you slip and fall when in the break room or while grabbing some lunch in the company cafeteria, can your employer argue that you were off the clock and, therefore, not entitled to workers’ compensation?

The answer, as with most things, depends to some degree on the circumstances of your case. As a general rule, if you are still on company premises and taking an authorized break, you can file a workers’ compensation claim for any injuries suffered, even if you were required to punch off the clock for your break. On the other hand, if you leave company premises for a meal or for any other reason during a break, any injuries sustained would not be covered by workers’ compensation, unless you can show that you were on a company-related errand at the time.

Injuries Sustained While Traveling for Work

Any injuries incurred on your way to or from work are generally excluded from eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. If you travel daily for work, any injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident or other mishap while traveling will probably be covered, unless you were engaged in a wholly or primarily personal task at the time. For example, if you work as a traveling salesperson, injuries in accidents while you are traveling from one customer to another are covered. But if you make a diversion to pick up dry cleaning or go to a medical appointment, injuries suffered on the diversion most likely would not be covered.

Contact Our Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Send us an e-mail or call our office to schedule an appointment to learn how we can help with a workers’ compensation claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

The Acceptable Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania

Grounds for Divorce

Under the laws of Pennsylvania, as in all other states, you can file for a “no-fault” divorce. This can be a little misleading, suggesting that you don’t have to provide any reason for legally ending your marriage. To the contrary, you must still indicate the basis for seeking a divorce—no-fault simply means you don’t have to allocate blame for the collapse of the marriage.

Grounds for a No-Fault Divorce

When neither party is technically at fault, you need only tell the court that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the bonds of marriage. A no-fault divorce may be by mutual consent, where both parties to the marriage agree that the marriage is over, or it may be unilateral, where one party files the petition and the other does not object. With a no-fault divorce by mutual consent, you need only wait 90 days for the divorce to become final. With a unilateral no-fault divorce, you must show that you have not cohabitated for 1 year and that the marriage cannot be fixed.

Grounds for an At-Fault Divorce

There’s no requirement that you allocate blame for the end of the marriage, but doing so can give you an advantage in your divorce proceedings. The permissible grounds for at-fault divorce in Pennsylvania include:

  • Marital infidelity or adultery
  • Bigamy
  • Domestic abuse, violence or cruelty, including mental abuse
  • Humiliation of a spouse, making the marriage no longer tenable
  • Abandonment of the relationship for at least one year
  • Conviction and imprisonment for a period of two or more years

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What to Do Immediately after You’ve Been in a Motor Vehicle Accident

 injured in a motor vehicle

When you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, you have a right to pursue damages for all your losses, including income and wages, unreimbursed medical expenses, loss of companionship or consortium, and physical pain and suffering. But the steps you take immediately after you’ve been in a crash can have a significant impact on your legal rights. Here are some ways you can protect your interests.

Get the Medical Care You Need as Soon as Possible

You want to seek medical attention immediately, and for a couple reasons. First, the sooner you get medical care, the better chance you have of a full financial recovery. But waiting to be treated can put you at risk. The longer you wait, the more ammunition you give defense attorney to argue that your injuries were not serious, or that your injuries were actually caused by some intervening event.

In addition, remember that this is no time to be strong or be a hero…it’s the time to take maximum precautions to avoid further injury. If you don’t think you can move under your own power, or if you are in significant pain, wait until emergency medical technicians arrive. They’ll know what’s best for you. Go to the hospital, if necessary. If, however, your injuries don’t require hospitalization, make a trip to an urgent care or your family doctor as soon as possible.

When you are treated, make certain you mention everything that has happened. Don’t focus on the obvious injuries and neglect to mention the twists and sprains in your neck or back. And ask that doctors and nurses document everything in writing.

Gather Information

If possible, you want to use the moments after the accident to gather information to assist your attorney. Ask for contact information from anyone involved in the accident, including name, address, phone number and insurance provider. You also want contact information from any witnesses.

Take pictures of everything, from the conditions of the road to the damage to all vehicles, from your injuries to the weather. Your camera on your phone should be sufficient.

Contact Our Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys

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How Does a Trust Work?

Trust Deed

You’ve been thinking that it’s time to put together and implement an estate plan, so that you can protect your heirs and ensure the orderly distribution of your estate. You may be uncertain about the different options available to you, including whether it’s in your best interests to establish a trust to meet your goals.

What is a Trust?

In essence, a trust is a separate legal entity that can hold, obtain and distribute property. A trust is created by the execution of a written legal document, which identifies the terms. The trust typically involves three different parties—the trustor, the trustee and any beneficiaries. The trustor is the person who created the trust and customarily the one who places property into the trust. The trustee is the person or entity (a trustee can be an institution, such as a bank) given the responsibility for managing the trust in accordance with the trust terms. The beneficiaries are individuals or institutions that have been granted some right to distributions of income or property from the trust.

How Does a Trust Benefit You?

One of the common objectives of an estate plan is to avoid the probate process. In the probate process, the court oversees the orderly distribution of property in an estate. The process can be complex and time-consuming, tying up estate assets for months or even years. In addition, the costs of probate can be considerable…up to 7% of the estate.

However, the probate process only applies to property owned by the deceased at the time of death. When you place property in trust, you no longer own it, even if you have certain rights to use it. Because it’s no longer your property, it is not subject to probate. Instead, upon your death, it typically stays exactly where it is…in the trust.

Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys

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ADDRESS :

  • B&D Law Group 1110 Kennebec Dr, Chambersburg, PA 17201

  • Call for consultation (717) 264-5194