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Harrisburg Legal Blog

Request probate documents when you suspect wrongdoing

The loss of a loved one could leave anyone with questions. While you may have expected your loved one's passing for some time due to health issues, you may still wonder what will happen to his or her estate and whether you will play a role in the probate process. Though you may already know that you are not the executor, you may still want to review certain probate documents.

In most cases, the executor will contact the necessary parties, including beneficiaries, to let them know that they have been named in a will or otherwise named in an estate plan. However, it is not always easy to get in contact with executors, and some do not handle their duties correctly. As a result, you may want to take matters into your own hands.

Should the family home be kept in a divorce?

The family home often becomes a focus when a couple decides that it is time to end the marriage. Should one of the individuals keep the home, or should they sell it? Will the children be better off if they are able to remain in the home, or would a change of scenery be better? While these may appear to be the pertinent questions in the divorce negotiation process in Pennsylvania, there are other, perhaps more important, questions that need to be addressed.

Prior to digging in the heels and insisting on keeping the home, the individual will want to take a careful look at his or her financial picture post divorce. What will the individual's budget look like? Will there be enough income to cover the expense of keeping the home along with all the other expenses that will need to be paid? In some instances, the simple reality is that it may be a financial struggle for the individual to keep the home. If this is the case, it may be better in the long run to go ahead and sell it.

Financial secrets to look for in divorce process

Where is the money going? This is a question that many Pennsylvania residents ask. In many cases, it is simply being spent on legitimate household expenses. However, in other cases, a spouse may be attempting to stash money in a secret account or hiding a debt that he/she does not want the other spouse to be aware of. Often, this is a prelude to an impending divorce decision.

In many cases, there are subtle signs that one needs to pay attention to. When money that is usually available is no longer there, it may be time to do a little research. Where is this money going? Perhaps one's spouse is attempting a surprise. But, is such a surprise going to be a pleasant one?

The risks you accept as an estate executor

When a loved one recently died, you may have felt surprised and, perhaps, even honored to learn that he or she had named you as executor of the estate. On the other hand, it may have been no surprise if the deceased had wisely communicated his or her intentions of leaving you with the duty to guide the estate through its final phases. In either case, the deceased must have had great faith in you to entrust you with the responsibility.

As executor of an estate, you have many obligations. It is your duty to locate and secure the assets, open the probate process, notify the heirs and pay any lingering debts. After these and other items, you may distribute the assets as the deceased wished. Of course, as with many legal procedures, it is not always that easy, and it is wise for you to prepare for the worst that can happen during the probate process.

Why consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Sometimes, life throws financial curveballs that are difficult to overcome. You've done your best to keep up, but now you are on the verge of losing everything and are receiving frequent calls from creditors. You can't take it anymore. You are ready to move past this point in your life. This is when a bankruptcy filing may be appropriate.

If you are one of the many Pennsylvania residents drowning in debt, even though you make a solid income, you may qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. What benefits are there to pursuing this debt relief option?

Prenuptial agreement more than just planning for divorce

The decision to marry carries with it the implicit decision to work together. For the average Pennsylvania couple, this decision to work together needs to begin in the initial planning stages rather than after the couple has said "I do." One of the first steps is often an open, honest discussion regarding finances, spending and expectations. When this occurs, the likelihood of divorce may decrease.

In some cases, one of the individuals enters the marriage with considerably more assets than the other. This situation can create an imbalance of power that can have a detrimental effect upon the marriage. One way to address this imbalance is through a prenuptial agreement.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers chance to re-establish credit history

Financial problems can do more than just damage the credit of a Pennsylvania resident. They can disrupt one's life with the constant collection calls and cause the individual to lose sleep worrying about how to resolve the current dilemma. Many find that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection is actually more of a relief than an additional burden.

By taking no action at all, it may take years to gradually climb out from under the current debt burden. However, with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the matter can be resolved within just a few months. Additionally, as one is gradually attempting to climb out of debt, additional debt, late payments and other credit marks are being accumulated. Although the bankruptcy will have a negative impact on one's credit history, it allows the individual to begin rebuilding his or her credit sooner rather than later.

Estate administration and probate can affect one's assets

Estate planning is a critical part of protecting one's assets and providing for loved ones. Many decisions need to be made, including whether a will is adequate or if the Pennsylvania resident will benefit by creating a trust. These decisions can have a profound impact upon one's assets, how they are distributed and whether they are subject to estate taxes. There are many aspects to the estate administration and probate process that need to be taken into consideration.

With a revocable trust, the individual establishes the trust and designates its beneficiaries. Assets are transferred to the trust and a trustee is established. In many cases, the trustee and the individual creating the trust are the same. This type of trust is useful for transferring assets without the need for probate. Additionally, with this type of trust, the individual can make changes as he or she sees fit.

Unmarried parents can seek child support payments too

Raising a child is expensive. From smaller expenses, such as shoes and clothes, to more costly expenditures, like extracurricular activities and health insurance, Pennsylvania parents put a significant portion of their finances into their children.

For unmarried parents, these costs are not always fairly shouldered. Child support orders help ensure that both parents are providing adequate financial support and can ease the burden that custodial parents bear.

Pet custody and the Pennsylvania divorce

Pets are children too. At least this is the case in many Pennsylvania households. Although pets are still treated as a part of the property division process in this state, they are often considered to be a part of the family and can become an area of controversy when the couple decides to divorce.

In families without children, the pet often acts as a surrogate child. Both "parents" dote on the pet and cater to its every whim. In fact, there is often a competition to see who can get the pet to play or snuggle with each individual.