My approach is simple…Provide the highest level of professional legal representation based on the needs of my clients and establish a long-term relationship to assist my clients, their families and their businesses with their legal needs.
My office is located in the North Hills and I have been representing clients in five counties of the greater Pittsburgh area since 1995 in the areas of:
* Estate Planning: Wills, Living Wills, and Powers of Attorney
* Decedent's Estate Probate Administration & Inheritance Taxation
* Real Estate: Purchase & Sale of Commercial and Residential Property, and Leases
* Incorporation, LLC/LLP, Partnerships, and Sole Proprietorships
* Contracts and General Business Law
As a result of my experience in these areas of law, most of my new clients come to me as referrals from CPA firms, financial advisors, financial institutions, and current clients.
I believe that establishing the right team of attorney, CPA, financial advisor, financial institution, and insurance specialist is crucial to a well thought-out business and estate plan. I have an on-going working relationship in the North Hills area with several of these professionals and can recommend the right team for my client's particular needs.
When buying or selling real estate, it is likewise necessary to have the right team of professionals; including: an attorney, mortgage broker, home inspector, appraiser, pest treatment company, general contractor, professional surveyors & engineers, and Title Insurance Company. I, also, have worked extensively with such professionals in order to provide the best possible full range of services to my clients.
Please feel free to contact me to discuss your specific legal needs or simply to discuss any general questions you may have. I look forward to working with you.
TOP TEN ESTATE ISSUES:
10. Jointly-owned Assets
Often utilized to avoid probate, jointly titled assets are popular because of the ease in transferring title upon the death of a joint owner with right of survivorship and the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax savings. Nonetheless, it can become a problem especially where too many assets are titled jointly – even between husband and wife.
9. Life Insurance
While Life Insurance may be a good method of adding liquidity to an Estate to pay creditors and taxes, if not contemplated properly it can be a problem. The proceeds, when payable to a named individual beneficiary, do not become part of the Estate assets and are not available for the payment of creditors, taxes or for distribution to heirs named in the Will. The proceeds might be payable to the wrong beneficiary at the wrong time who is, emotionally, physically or legally, incapable of handling it.
8. Lack of Liquidity
Not having sufficient assets available to the Executor that can be readily converted to cash (for the payment of Estate creditors and taxes) can become a serious estate problem. Federal Estate Tax, Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax, decedent’s Federal and Pennsylvania Income Taxes, probate and administration costs, payment to creditors, payment of specific bequests provided for in the Will, etc, must all be taken into account to determine sufficient liquidity.
7. Naming the Right Executor
The person named as the Executor, even though he/she may be assisted by an attorney, accountant and financial advisor, nevertheless has the ultimate fiduciary responsibility to administer the Estate on behalf of the heirs and creditors. An Estate might be on-going for a year or longer, and often, the physical, financial, and emotional responsibilities are too much for an elderly, out-of-state, or otherwise busy Executor.
6. Will Errors
The BIGGEST Will error is dying without a Will or dying without a valid Will. Without a Will, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through the intestate statutes, determines to whom and when your assets are distributed. Without a Will, the Estate might be distributed to unintended or remote heirs. Even if a Will has been prepared, if it is not up-to-date it can be as bad as not having one at all.
5. Leaving Everything to your Surviving Spouse
Since there is no Federal Estate Tax or Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax assessed against the first-to-die, many people feel that it is best to leave all of the assets to the surviving spouse. But, the surviving spouse might not have the skills or stability to manage a large sum. Upon the death of the surviving spouse, everything that he/she received is added to his/her own assets and it is all taxable, (under both Federal and State tax laws) in his/her Estate. The Federal Unified Credit that is available to both the husband and wife, can be “lost” to the first-to-die.
4. Wrong Asset/Wrong Time
An unwise disposition of assets can occur when a large or complex Estate is left outright to a surviving spouse or a child who lack the skills to manage it; or when left to a minor without the provision and protection of a Trust; or when left to a physically or mentally handicapped individual without the provision or protection of a “special needs” Trust.
3. Failure to Plan
Business owners simply assume that the business will be sold upon their death. But, depending upon the circumstances, selling the business interest might not be the best plan. Depending upon the business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc) a Buy-Sell Agreement (possibly funded by life insurance) could be essential to the value and continuation of the business.
2. Cardboard Boxes Full of Important Papers
An Executor left with cardboard boxes filled with “important” papers, with no filing system and no regard to what might be outdated, has the additional burden of sorting through all of these papers. Lack of an ESTATE PLANNING CHECKLIST places the Executor and attorney in the position of guessing where the assets are located (banks, securities firms, collectibles, safe deposit boxes, etc) and what the assets consist of, to be certain that all are accounted for.
1. Not Planning for the Inevitable
The old adage that “nothing is certain except death and taxes...” is as true today as always. Although we do not like to face it – we have an “expiration date”. Many people have the intelligence and skills to amass assets and to “live the good life”, but do not plan for their Estate. Some try to establish a “do-it-yourself” estate plan and can do a very good job, however, very few people have the knowledge and capability to do it correctly and efficiently.