Why it’s so important to start estate planning while you are still young.

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Not just the elderly need to be concerned with estate planning. Maybe you are a single mother or father with children and want to make sure they are taken care of properly. College students who own a car and a bank account. How about a couple without children, that own a house, have a joint bank account and land in a different state. While each one of these situations is indeed different they all have one thing in common. Each one will require the help of an estate planning lawyer to make sure their wishes are carried on after they pass on.

With a properly planned and organized estate plan your loved ones won’t have to bear the emotional stress of trying to carry out what they think you would have wanted. By starting your estate planning early you are not only cutting down on the stress and emotional stress of your family but you can be assured that your wishes are carried out.

A few things that may arise if you don’t have a proper estate plan before you pass.

  1. Your surviving family may incur tax burdens as well as expensive probate costs and fees.
  2. Without an estate plan your estate may get hung up in probate after your passing, causing more heartache for your loved ones.
  3. Having a proper estate plan in line will help prevent creditors from getting greedy.
  4. Without an estate plan you are leaving the decision up to your surviving family to choose who receives your assets. This can be a very emotional and stress full decision. With a proper plan you will be able to state who will receive what asset and any circumstances that go along with it. Think family heirlooms and prized processions.
  5. In some cases with the proper estate plan you are able to distribute your assets to who you want to before your passing. This cuts out some of the emotional stress your loved ones will incur.
  6. By having your estate plan in place, you may help to ease the emotional stress on family members from the rigors of planning a funeral and paying extensive fees that are often associated with them.

How You Dress For Court Does Matter

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You have an important date and you want to make a good impression. It’s not exactly an evening date that you’ve had on your mind, but you still want to look your best. When you have a court date, whether it addresses driving violations in traffic court or the consequential business of family and civil court, or the weighty matters tried in criminal court, how you dress is important.


If you were stepping out on a first date with Mister or Miss Right, or you were going to interview for that highly competitive job opening, you would make sure everything about your physical appearance was as close to perfect as possible. So why wouldn’t you dress for an all-important court date? It could make the difference between winning and losing your case, which may be a life changer.


Whether you are a defendant, witness, juror, or just along as an observer, if you are going to be in the courtroom for any reason, the following unspoken dress code will suffice for any type court in just about any area of the country. In many areas some courts have a minimal dress code that court-goers are expected to comply with.


If a judge does not think you are dressed decently, he can order you to leave his courtroom. So, devote some time to selecting appropriate clothing to wear in court. The following will provide some good guidelines for appropriate courtroom attire. A basic rule of thumb is to dress conservatively and to keep it modest.


Think of court as a formal setting. A woman should wear either a suit, blouse and skirt or slacks or a simple dress with hose and a bra. The blouse or dress should not be too low cut; the skirt or dress not too tight or short. Shoes should be a medium to low heel and not some outrageous fad type footwear; they should never be open toed


A man should wear a dress suit or sports jacket and slacks. If you do not have a suit or jacket, at a minimum wear a nice pair of slacks and an ironed shirt and a tie. Dress shoes are best, not sneakers or work boots.


No type of hat or head apparel should ever be worn. Both men and women should take off their coats before entering the courtroom.


The following items are viewed as inappropriate courtroom attire and should always be avoided. While not necessarily banned in a courtroom, these items will make a less than favorable impression and may signal disrespect for the court. In some instances, the judge can require that you leave the court and not return until you are more suitably dressed.


  • shorts or cutoffs
  • tee shirts
  • halter tops
  • flip flops or sandals, sneakers
  • damaged or stained clothing
  • overly revealing garments
  • over-the-top, faddish hairstyles
  • heavy perfume


How you dress for your court date does say a lot about you, and the judge and any jurors will definitely notice, so dress accordingly.

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Two Decisions That May Cost Your Life If Charged With a Serious Crime

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When a person is charged with committing a crime, he will be confronted with making several important decisions. Two of these decisions involve hiring a lawyer and then choosing a jury trial or a bench trial.


Of course, anyone charged with a crime wants the best lawyer he can get. However, when he is charged with a serious crime that carries a life sentence or, even worse, the death penalty, he wants the best lawyer he can get, no matter how much he costs.


The lawyer’s competence is naturally of great concern, but of other concern is the price. Expensive attorneys charge a premium fee for a reason, which clients should be willing to pay for good reason.


A premium price enables lawyers to accomplish several objectives. Rather than merely taking on as many clients as possible in order to make a profit, a lawyer can focus on providing quality service that produces better results for his clients.


When your lawyer has sufficient time to concentrate on your case, it allows him to time to think “outside the box,” looking for innovative ways to defend you, which requires a great deal of time. So the fewer cases your lawyer handles, the more reason he will need to charge a premium fee.


By attempting to make money off of client volume a defense lawyer does his clients a disservice. It is illogical to think that an attorney can juggle hundreds of cases simultaneously and still give your case extraordinary service.


Therefore, do not let premium fees run you off. People who pay more usually receive excellent, personalized service. For instance, a lawyer who focuses on quality over quantity strives to give his client excellent customer service so that when you call the office, you can expect outstanding service from a dedicated staff.


Also, do not be fooled into believing you will receive quality service at a budget price. Hiring a criminal defense attorney at a budget price is risky, especially if you are charged with a serious crime that carries a life sentence or one punishable by death. Hiring the wrong lawyer could mean paying with your life.


How To Find a Good Lawyer Online.

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You’re in a bind and you need a lawyer. But where do you even start looking? Online, of course! But while you can find a lot of lawyers online, how do find a good lawyer this way?


Start by figuring out what kind of lawyer you need. While some lawyers may specialize in business law, that might not be too helpful if you need a divorce or were injured by someone else’s carelessness. You can always go to your favorite search engine and search for a lawyer that handles your type of case. Try entering “Lawyer (your type of case) (your state).” That will bring up a list of lawyers in your state that specialize in what you need.


Okay, so now you have a list. But how do you narrow it down? Randomly picking a lawyer from that list is no better than randomly picking one out of the phone book. Start narrowing the field by looking at the individual lawyers’ websites. Those sites will contain more information about their areas of expertise and their experience. Start looking for a few that fit your needs. Make sure you pick a few; don’t narrow your field to one lawyer just yet.


Once you have your short list of lawyers that seem to fit your needs, it’s time to check out what other people have to say. Their websites are their ads, and, of course, tell you all the positives. But you want to know what their clients think. You want to know their track record. You want to know them. Again with the help of your favorite search engine, search specifically for that lawyer or that law firm. See if anyone has posted a review.  See if your potential lawyer has been featured in an article or participated in a high-profile case.


When you are reading reviews, though, never place too much weight in any one review. Look for long-term trends. Are the majority of reviewers happy with their result? With any overly positive or overly negative review, be suspicious of the motives and the objectivity of that reviewer. You should also check the Bar Association webpage and see if your potential lawyer has been reprimanded for anything.


After you’ve done your online research, your short list should be very short. Now is the time to abandon the internet and start calling lawyers. Before you call, decide what you want to ask. Have a few specifics of your case ready so you can ask detailed questions and get a real feel for how this lawyer will handle your case. Once you’ve made some inquiries, you might only have one or two lawyers left on your list.


Before you hire one of them, you should make a point to meet them in person. It takes time, but in the end it could mean the difference between getting the lawyer that can best represent your interest and just getting a lawyer. Starting your search online is a great way to begin, but ending it online leaves out a vital part of the lawyer-client relationship: the relationship.

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Do You Think Lawyers Charge Too Much or Too Little?

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To determine whether a lawyer is charging you too much or too little, you need to look at the value of what you are getting for your money. Are the services you are receiving worth the money you are paying out? If you hire a less expensive attorney, will you get the same quality of service? How important is the end result to you?


You need to find a lawyer who will give you a comfortable balance of the highest level of service at the lowest price. Contact several attorneys and ask for an estimate to determine what is a reasonable cost based on your needs. Never forget the old adage that you get what you pay for.


Obviously, if you are suing someone over a matter of a few hundred dollars, you don’t want to rack up a thousand dollars in legal fees. But as the value of your lawsuit grows, the higher fees may seem worth it. Because a win is not guaranteed, using a higher profile law firm with more resources and a good track record may be the difference between a judgment in your favor or a dismissal of your case.


Remember, you will pay for the name and reputation of the law firm you hire, but that still does not guarantee a legal victory. If you’re dealing with a criminal case, you have more at risk than just money. Your personal property and even your liberty may be at stake. You need a lawyer who will give you the best chance of beating any charges against you.


When you are determining what value you are receiving for your legal fees, you need to look at the whole picture. You may only spend a few hours with your attorney and have a bill well over a thousand dollars. You may ask how someone can justify billing hundreds of dollars per hour. No one makes that kind of money in the non-legal world!


Chances are your lawyer is not making that kind of money either. Your payment does not go directly into the lawyer’s pocket. He or she has to pay their secretary, their paralegal, the rent, the electricity, the phone bill, the janitor, and any other overhead. Your fee pays for everyone who worked on your case, and that’s not a lot per person per hour now.


Also take into consideration your attorney. You are paying for his or her expertise. This person studied for many years (and accrued a vast student debt) to provide you with a level of service that you may not get elsewhere. This is the true value of your lawyer’s time, and the bang for your buck, so to speak.


There are shysters out there who will gladly take your money and provide you a low level of service. Yes, they charge too much for their services. But if you take a close look at what value you are receiving for your legal investment, you can find a lawyer who will give you the level of service you require at a price that won’t break your budget.


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What Makes up a Legally Binding Document?

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A document that two or more people sign and notarize is legally binding and is one form of agreement that can be upheld in a court of law. In fact, any agreement between two parties can be enforced legally, whether the contract made was verbal or written.


However, a signed document is valuable proof that such an agreement exists and that both parties have agreed to the same terms. In the absence of such a document, it’s difficult to determine exactly which conditions were agreed upon in the event the two parties remember the terms differently.


The document that describes the agreement is your contract. When both parties fully understand and agree to the terms outlined in that contract, each will signify his or her acceptance by signing it. Even if the agreement has not been notarized, the signatures alone legally bind both parties to the terms in the contract,


Having the contract notarized provides evidence that each party actually signed the document. Since a notary must witness the signatures, no one can claim that his or her signature was forged or otherwise illicitly obtained. Furthermore, the document bears a notary’s mark and seal. A notarized document is a more secure way of signing the contract, but the contract itself is still legally binding with or without being notarized.


Wording your document is another story, however. Once signed, this document becomes the entire scope of the agreement. If something is not included in the document, it does not exist in the agreement. The wording does not make the document more or less legally binding, but it does clarify exactly what you are legally bound to do.

A vague or poorly worded contract leaves room for interpretation, and more dangerously, misinterpretation.


Regardless of poor or inadequate wording, the contract is still legally binding and can be enforced by a court of law, but in court the judge must interpret the terms that were documented. Without clearly written terms and details, the judge may construe them differently than you originally intended them. More specific terms create less chance that a judge would favor the opposing party’s portrayal of the agreement over yours.


A good contract will describe in detail the offer, the acceptance of the offer, the value or payment to be exchanged for the offered product or service, and the timeframe in which the transaction will take place. The more clearly each of these items is documented in the contract, the easier it will be to enforce the terms in court.


If you are creating your own contract without the advice of a lawyer, make your wording clear and easy to understand. Do not try to add fancy legal or Latin terms unless both parties fully understand them and their legal ramifications. Contracts do not need to be fancy or use long, intricate words and phrases to be effective. The most effective contract will demonstrate that both parties entered into the agreement in full understanding of each of the terms set forth.


One point to note, however, is that no matter how well worded your contract is, and no matter how specific the terms, if the contract involves any type of illegal activity, it is not enforceable in court. No party can make a contract to break the law.

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I Want to Take Someone to Court in Pennsylvania, but I Live in a Different State. Can This Be Done?

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Where you take someone to court depends on a few things, but not on where you live. There are several different factors that determine where you can take a person to court, including where that person lives, where the event or dispute about which you are suing took place, and whether that person was acting on behalf of a company. As long as your case meets one of these criteria, then yes, you can sue the person in Pennsylvania.


If you are suing a person who has hurt or wronged you and you sue them in small claims or state court, then you can take them to court in the state in which they live or in the state in which they wronged or hurt you. These courts only handle local cases. So if your defendant lives in Pennsylvania, you can sue him or her there.


If they committed the act about which you are suing them or your dispute with them arose in Pennsylvania, you can sue them there. If this person does not live in Pennsylvania and the event or dispute over which you are suing did not happen in Pennsylvania, then you cannot sue them there. The location of the lawsuit must be related to the defendant who wronged you or the location of the event where you were wronged.


When you sue someone, the court will serve that person with a summons informing him or her of your complaint and that they are being sued. The person must be served with the papers in the state in which they are being sued. So even if you are able to sue someone in Pennsylvania, if they are never within state limits to receive the summons, your case cannot proceed. You would need to sue them in their home state. Exceptions would be if your lawsuit involved a motor vehicle incident or an out of state landlord who owns property in the state. Then they can be served out of state.


If the person you wish to sue lives in Pennsylvania, your first step would be to file a complaint in that person’s home county. Some counties may allow you to send paperwork through the mail, but at some point you will need to travel to the site of your lawsuit. Take travel time and expense into consideration as you pursue your suit, and keep your receipts. Be sure to include any applicable court costs in your suit, such as fees for serving the summons and filing the complaint.


If this person was acting on behalf of a company and your lawsuit is against the company, then there is a slightly different set of rules. If the company is licensed to do business in Pennsylvania and has a presence in that state — a store, an office, a warehouse, or any other facility — then you can sue that company in Pennsylvania.


Even if the person’s headquarters is in another state, as long as you can provide a valid in-state address for the court to serve the defendant, you can sue them in that state. But if the company is completely based in another state and has no presence in Pennsylvania, then you need to sue them where they are located.

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When to get an attorney and when not to get one!

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To Hire or Not to Hire?


“Your Honor, I object!” How many times have you heard that on a TV show? Often times the judge’s response is along the lines of “On what grounds?” It is then the attorney’s job to explain why he thinks what the other attorney is doing is wrong. The reasons can range anywhere from leading the witness, to badgering the witness, to showing off. The fact of the matter is, however, that it is the attorneys who know what to look for in these cases.


It is their job, and they have received a high level of training in order to make themselves qualified for the position of defending you. The question many people ask themselves, especially in today’s economy, is “when do I get an attorney involved?” The truth is, attorneys are expensive, and many times people don’t see a need for them.


If a person has the time to do his own research and the case is not a serious one, a diligent person could probably run the case mostly on his own. But how many people have the time to thoroughly do the necessary research? How many people even know where to start when it comes to researching their case?


Most of the time, people who try to run their case on their own tend to create a bigger mess than they had to begin with, and wind up hiring a lawyer in the end anyway just to clean up the mess for them. When this happens, fixing the mess often leads to more expenses than would have normally been incurred, and the client would have been better off hiring an attorney from the start.


Some of the benefits of hiring a lawyer are:


  • Getting the work done: That is, after all, what attorneys are being paid to do. They have the resources and the time to focus on the research for your case and have a vast amount of knowledge regarding different cases, so they generally know what they are doing.


  • Resources: Have you ever tried to work your full time job while trying to learn something completely new without a teacher? You just won’t have the time to do one of them properly, and most likely it won’t be your day job. Most law firms are equipped with several attorneys as well as paralegals that have nothing better to do than work on your case. Doing research and determining how specific laws apply to your case is what they are in business for.
  • Education and experience: Lawyers have at least three years of law school, in addition to however many years of work experience they have acquired. This means that they have exposure to obscure cases that may apply to you, in addition to knowing what each law says and how to apply it to your case. They  know what they are doing, and in this business, that is hard to beat.


The only real downside to hiring a lawyer is the cost. However, when you look at the benefits of having an attorney, it is difficult to choose not to. So the answer to the question “When do I get an attorney involved?” is  “As soon as possible.”

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What happens if there is a problem with Probate?

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In Pennsylvania probate is a simple process.  Your attorney will prepare a Petition for Probate and an Estate Information sheet in most counties but in some, like Philadelphia, your attorney must pre-register with the Register of Wills.  The main function of the Register of Wills is to ascertain the correct party to administer the Estate.  If the decedent died with a Will the Register will examine the Will, have the Witnesses sign affidavits if the Will is not self proving and swear in the Executor or Executors.  If the decedent died without a Will the persons that will inherit under the Intestate Laws have the right to be appointed Administrator.  The Register could ask those who want to serve to provide proof of relationship, usually a birth Certificate.  If there is more than 1 party who is named in the Will as Executor or there are more than 1 beneficiary who could serve as Administrator and only 1 of those wants to serve the party who does not wish tom serve must sign a Renunciation before  notary.  Probate in Pennsylvania is usually a simple process and, with the aid of an experienced attorney, it should be completed within an hour.


There are situations where more than 1 person eligible to serve cannot agree or there are questions of the validity of a Will.  This will result in litigation before the Register of Wills.  The Register will not interpret clauses in a Will which may be ambivalent but will only determine if the Weill is valid and the person or persons name in the Will are qualified to serve.  In a case where there is no Will but more than 1 of the Intestate heirs want to serve without the other the Register will determine if one is more qualified to serve.  If the Register finds there is so much animosity between the parties that they neither can serve he will name a neutral party to serve.  The neutral party will retain an attorney to represent him or her, both charging fees.  A contest is commenced either by filing petition for Citation (similar to a complaint in civil court) and the Respondent will be given time to file an answer.  If there is a contest then a hearing will be scheduled before an Assistant Register who will hear evidence and make a determination.  If there is a question of the validity of a Will a party opposing the probate will file a Cavaet requesting the Register not probate the Will.  That will be followed by a hearing similar to the other forms of contest.  Any party can appeal the Register’s decision to the Orphan’s Court division of the Court of Common Pleas.


Although probate is a simple process in most cases it is important that a party be represented by a qualified attorney.  Decisions regarding the information on the Petition for Probate will determine the fee charged by the Register of Wills.  If the Decedent died without a Will and the Administrator does not reside in Pennsylvania a bond must be filed with the Register of Wills which your attorney can arrange to be done at probate.

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Should I retain an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia to guide me through settling an Estate?

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If you had to cross a beautiful meadow but there was a big sign saying “Beware, this is a mine field.  An experienced professional guide is available to guide you through the field and you are guaranteed you will not strike a mine if you retain him.”  Would you risk serious injury, maiming or death to save the fee of the experienced guide?  I doubt it but many people do just that and try to administer Estates without the guidance of an experienced Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphia. Do you know how to marshal a Decedent’s assets, how to find out what assets a decedent owned, how to obtain a federal tax ID number, which obligations can be settled at a fraction of the debt, how to prepare the documents required by the Register of Wills and the Orphan’s Court, how to prepare a Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax return, a United States Fiduciary tax return, a Pennsylvania income tax return?

These are things that must be done even in the smallest Estates.  But retaining an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia can, in addition, reducing the Pennsylvania Inheritance Taxes paid by the Estate, you can save future income taxes because of his knowledge of the interrelation of the Inheritance tax and the federal income tax, he can settle debt obligations for a fraction of the claim even through there are enough assets to pay the debt in full, elect to shorten the statute of limitations available to creditors to file claims.  The list goes on and on.  The Administration of an Estate without the guidance of an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia is a mine field as the layman will not even be aware of any problems until they strike.  2 recent examples of people who called me because they found my web sight come to mind.  An executor administering an Estate without the guidance of an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia made decisions on her Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax returns designed to save Inheritance tax.  She was unaware of the effect that made on the Estate’s income tax until she was presented with a very large bill from the IRS.

Another example was an Administrator who believed she was the Decedent’s next of kin, transferred the Decedent’s home to herself and, when she had it under agreement of sale found out that she was required to get the Orphans’ Court’s permission and ended up loosing the house. These and other horror stories are too common and they could have been avoided by retaining an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia.  Avoiding situations like the ones described here are part of the routine services that are offered by an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia.

I accept fees based upon a fee schedule setting forth the guidelines of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and/or the Pennsylvania Attorney general. These fees are based upon the size of the gross estate and start at 7% of the first $25,000 of the gross estate.  That means that if your gross estate is $25,000 the fee will be $1,750 leaving $23,500 to pay debts, taxes and inheritance.  The percentage falls as the value of the estate grows.  The fee also reduces as the Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphia saves you Inheritance taxes, income taxes and settles debts at a fraction of the face value.  Please do not walk into a mine field but retain the services of an experienced Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphia to make sure the path is easy and safe.

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How does an Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphiaset fees?

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Our courts have ruled that Estate Lawyers inPhiladelphiacan only charge reasonable fees. Of course that leaves the key question of what is a reasonable fee up in the air.  Our courts take into consideration the complexity of the Estate, the time expended by the Estate Lawyer, his or her experience and education as factors.

All Estates require certain routine services to be preformed.  The question of a fee’s reasonableness is reviewed in every Estate by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue in reviewing Inheritance Tax returns and the Pennsylvania Attorney General when a charity is involved.  Both the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and the Attorney General have guidelines as to the reasonableness of an attorney’s fee based upon the size of the gross estate, but they will not publish those guidelines. In 1980 a Judge wrote an opinion in the Johnson Estate case that attached the guidelines of either the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue or the Attorney General to it.

Both the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue deny the Johnson Estate fee schedule is their 1980 guidelines but admit they are pretty close.   Although there are no higher court rulings a number of Orphans’ Court judges have ruled that the Johnson Estate Fee schedule will be accepted as a reasonable fee for an attorney performing routine services in an Estate.  If the fee is larger than the Johnson Estate fee schedule the attorney will have to demonstrate he or she was required to spend more time because non-routine services were required, usually litigation between beneficiaries or taxing authorities.  I will agree to a fee for routine services based upon the Johnson Estate fee schedule even though it is based upon 1980 rates.  This is because an experienced Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphiahas purchased proprietary soft wear that has reduced the amount of hours required to settle an estate.  I pass this savings on to my clients.

Many clients only look at the gross fee and then compare each fee selecting their attorney based upon fee only.  This is a costly mistake.  The gross fee is not what the services of an attorney cost a client. There are many other factors to consider.  All fees are deductible for Pennsylvania Inheritance tax purposes.  That reduces the fee by between 4.5% and 15%. If you retain the services of and experienced Estate lawyer inPhiladelphiahe will know how to pass his fee through to the beneficiaries so they may deduct it from their personal income taxes and therefore reduce the fee further with their tax savings.  Further, an experienced estate lawyer in Philadelphia can settle certain debts at a fraction of the amounts owed even through the Estate has more than enough funds to pay the obligation in full.  I have represented clients in Estates where the savings were so substantial that the attorney’s fee did not cost the estate anything.  The key to selecting an attorney is not the fee but should take into consideration the attorney’s experience and education and the net cost of the fee.

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How to Pick a Good Attorney, Abowitz Law Offices

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Choosing a lawyer can be a daunting task, as there is so much to consider. Obviously, you want a lawyer who can deliver the best possible results for your case, but preferably without emptying your bank account.


The first step is to identify your needs. Determine what type of case you have — civil, real estate, disability, etc. — and look into the steps needed to file for the case. The more informed you are about the process, the easier it is to know what you need your lawyer to do for you. You must also decide whether you will need a general attorney or a specialized attorney.


Once you have identified what type of lawyer you need, do not be afraid to vocalize your search for one. Referrals can come from anywhere: family, friends, a cashier, teller or loan officer at your bank. Anyone you come in contact with may know the perfect attorney for you.


Of course, you shouldn’t choose a lawyer on reputation alone. There exist many free online referral services, which list local lawyers and their specialties. Sometimes these online services even provide ratings, reviews, and success rates.


Additional referrals include local sources, such as your area’s Chamber of Commerce or especially your local law library. For advice in cases of divorce or adoption, consider non-profit organizations, such as women or family counseling.


After narrowing down your list of prospects, you should contact each attorney and ask to meet them in person. As a general rule, if an attorney doesn’t offer a free face-to-face consultation of at least thirty minutes, it could indicate that they value their time above yours. Likewise, however, when you find one that is willing to meet with you, be sure to come well prepared so as to make the most of your consultation.


Bring an outline of your needs, any pertinent details and all documentation that supports those details. During the interview, try to gauge if the lawyer’s personality is one you will be comfortable working with.


You want legal representation that is confident but not overly so. For example, a capable attorney should be able to outline a basic strategy, but should never guarantee that he can win your case, as it is impossible to guarantee a sure win.


Lastly, the questions you ask could be the deciding factor in your choice. Therefore, it is important to ask how you can contact him with questions or concerns. You want an attorney that is willing to make time for you and your case, so he should indicate a willingness to meet personally with you as needed. Upon request, a good attorney should be able to provide a timetable of how soon the paperwork can be filed.


To keep fees to a minimum some attorneys will allow you to do as much of the research, filing, etc. as possible. Most good attorneys will understand and respect your need to monitor the costs closely.


Armed with this information and a clear plan, choosing the right attorney for you should be a rewarding and less stressful experience.

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Tips for Choosing a Probate Lawyer in Philadelphia

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Are you searching for an experienced Probate Lawyer in Philadelphia? When it comes to selecting someone to deal with the important matters involved in the estate of a deceased loved one or family member, then you need to find someone who is suitable and sensitive to your needs. Below I will explore the top tips for choosing a probate lawyer. With over 1.5 Million people in the City alone, there is a selection of probate lawyers available for you to consider. However finding someone who is both experienced and compassionate can be a challenge, read on to understand my top 5 tips for choosing a probate lawyer:


1)     Research - It is important to learn what types of services a probate lawyer can offer you. You should aim to find someone that can offer both probate advice but also estate planning. By having a broader experience of estate law you can ensure the best experience. You should learn what areas of practice your probate lawyer specializes in such as dealings with complex wills and special needs trusts.


2)     References - Asking around friends and family to see if they have had dealings with a probate lawyer in Philadelphia can be a great help. Alternatively you may also ask the probate lawyer themselves if they have any testimonials or example cases for you to check over.


3)     Location - You don’t want to be driving too far to be having probate meetings and so it is important to choose a probate lawyer that has an office close to your home. Alternatively ask if the probate lawyer can visit you and the other family members if possible.


4)     Qualifications - Experience is more important than qualifications in probate law, however it is worth checking to see if your preferred probate lawyer has any qualifications. You can ask if the probate lawyer is up to date with the latest local probate laws and practices.


5)     Fee Policy - The benefits of using a probate lawyer are invaluable, however all lawyers have a standard fee structure in place. It is important to receive an up-to-date fee policy before you sign anything. You should aim to understand any costs and ask if an initial consultation fee would apply.


I hope that this guide has helped you to understand the importance of research when it comes to finding a probate lawyer in the Philadelphia area.


Considering Estate Lawyer Fees in Philadelphia

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Are you considering hiring an estate lawyer in Philadelphia but are worried about fees? Estate Law can be a complicated process including complicated family wills and probate tax issues. Today I will explore some of the most popular questions you may need answering before contacting your new probate lawyer. Read on to learn more about the most common things you should consider before signing any agreement with an estate lawyer in Philadelphia.


  • Are there any initial consultation fees? – On your first meeting with your estate lawyer you need to ask if there is any cost involved in the initial session. A good experienced Lawyer will not charge you any fee for the initial conference. Use this session wisely to fully understand the fee policy going forward so that you can decide if the estate lawyer is suitable for you.


  • Are there any contingent fees? – During your initial meetings your estate lawyer should be able to predict how long and costly your service will be based on the complexity of your estate and the Will. However it is important to clarify if there will be any contingent fees should things crop up along the process. A good experience  lawyer should not charge any contingent fees other than those outlined in the fee policy.


  • Do you have to sign a fee agreement? - A well-drawn up fee policy agreement is in both your interest and that of the estate lawyer. This is sort of a contract that is signed to agree on the fee prices and time expended in rendered services. This can also be known as an engagement letter. Although it is rare, should anything go wrong with your estate process then you can always come back to reference this agreement.


I hope that I have helped to explain the most important initial questions that you should be looking to consider when signing up with a probate lawyer in Philadelphia. A good experienced lawyer will pay for himself in the long term, however it is important that you fully understand the estate lawyer’s fee policy from the beginning of your journey. Work out the total estimated fees and avoid any estate lawyers that may charge unknown contingent fees. Read your agreement letter carefully before signing and you should be best protected and receive the highest value from your estate lawyer in Philadelphia.


Top 3 considerations for your Estate Planning Lawyer in Philadelphia

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Are you considering formal estate planning in Philadelphia? There can be many important factors to initially discuss with your estate planning lawyer. Today I will explore some of the questions you may experience when searching for a good quality experienced professional. Remember that in Philadelphia, laws may govern whom your estate will be left to without a will, therefore it is vital to have a professional draw up a clear estate will plan. Below are my top 3 considerations to check during your first consultation session:

1. Clear Declaration – Estate Wills can be complex documents and may be often misinterpreted. It is therefore vital to make a clear declaration when estate planning to ensure that everyone understands who gets what. In Philadelphia the law can determine who receives your estate without a Will therefore it is important to make a clear declaration of your wishes, which your estate planning lawyer can provide for you.

2. Discuss Estate Taxes – You may be surprised to learn that the beneficiaries of your estate may be subject to additional estate taxes after you pass. You should discuss these with your estate planning lawyer in Philadelphia, who will be able to explain the options your family and loved ones can try to reduce the amount of these taxes.

3. Consider College Funds – If you would like part of your estate to go to family ones to pay for their future college funds then you need to explain this to your estate planning lawyer. They can write up a bond type agreement to ensure that these funds are held for college education.

I hope that you would have found this information valuable on your search for an estate planning lawyer in Philadelphia. As you can see estate planning is a complex process involving complicated legal documents and you also need to consider other issues such as income taxes and any charitable donations. While you may be able to estate plan yourself, a mistake can be costly and may result in the most important people in your life missing out on what they deserve.

An experience estate planning lawyer in Philadelphia is the best way to cover all these issues. Nobody likes to consider these questions while you are alive and healthy but estate management is important and should not be put off. By following these tips you should be confident of discovering your new estate planning lawyer and enjoy peace of mind for you and your family.

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Settle Your Divorce Out Of Court And Save Money

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Almost half of marriages today end in divorce. Many end for one of the following reasons: high expectations that don’t materialize. One or both parties are unfaithful. You and your spouse are incompatible. You are rigid, meaning both of you want things your own way and cannot compromise. Lastly, there is an extreme lack of communication.


Although divorce for any reason is difficult and can be expensive, if you find yourself in the midst of a divorce because of a lack of communication or because your spouse is rigid or both, you will find the settlement phase especially difficult.


No matter how difficult it will be to agree on a settlement with your estranged spouse, your divorce will not be final until all five of the following issues are resolved. Three of these issues concern your children: Child Custody, Child Support, and Visitation.


The fourth area is Division of Marital Property, and the fifth is Alimony. Regardless of whether you settle out of court or go to trial, these issues must be resolved before your divorce is final.


Of course, if you go to court, there will be a winner and a loser, or it would appear. In monetary terms, however, due to attorney fees and other expenses, winning may cost you a lot of money, not to mention the emotional cost, especially if you have children together.


In addition to high court costs, you may have to take time away from work. On the other hand, if you are a full-time homemaker, at the very least, going to court will interrupt your daily routine and activities.


If you have children, this interruption could be a major consideration, plus the fact that you will be spending your children’s college money. Consider also that attorney fees required for trial and expert witnesses may climb into the thousands of dollars.


Just getting to trial may take a long time for reasons out of your attorney’s control. Remember, too, that a judge may not render a ruling but take your case under advisement, which could be for weeks or months. There is also the appeals process, which means paying more lawyer fees.


At the end of a trial, one party wins and one party loses. The judge is constrained by the legislature in how he must rule, whereas you can be a lot more creative in crafting an agreement than a judge can.


For these reasons you should try to settle out of court, especially if your finances are not ideal. Following are some popular alternatives to divorce court.


  • Alternative dispute resolution — Parties employ the services of a neutral third party. Cases are private and resolved fairly quickly with less hostility.


  • Divorce mediation — Parties work together with a neutral third party, or mediator, who facilitates and evaluates the settlement sometimes with input from a divorce attorney.


  • Divorce arbitration — Parties select a neutral third party, called an arbitrator, who makes a decision on the divorce, instead of a judge, which expedites the procedure.


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Take These Steps When You Have Been Served A Summons

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You may think you have a good reason for not responding to the summons you were served last month. At the time you received the summons you could not afford an attorney.


By time you were able to borrow enough money to hire an attorney it was more than a month past your required response date. Now you’re hoping the judge will accept your reason as a good excuse.


Unfortunately, since you failed to show for your original court date, there is almost nothing you can say that will persuade the judge in your favor. Judges are unbending when it comes to a defendant’s failure to appear.


If you had shown up for court and explained your money problems to the judge, he may have granted you what is called a “continuance,” which would have extended time to you in order to find and pay for an attorney.


If you have received a summons, it means that someone is suing you. Knowing what to do when you are served with a summons will help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that typically goes along with being sued.


Following are some steps to take when you are served with a summons, which will also be accompanied by the complaint. First and foremost is to take these two documents seriously because they are what begin any kind of litigation.


  • Contact a lawyer immediately – Do not drag your feet. Once you are served with the summons and complaint, you have twenty to thirty days to respond to the lawsuit. So note the date and time of service, then contact a lawyer as quickly as possible for several reasons.


  • If you procrastinate until a few days before the deadline to respond, your lawyer will be severely limited in his range of actions. If you should fail to respond on time, a default will be entered against you preventing you from defending the action altogether, unless the default is set aside, which will probably result in extra legal fees.


  • Scan any insurance policies – Sometimes insurance policies cover various allegations. Make copies of the policies for your attorney to evaluate. A policy might cover attorneys’ fees and costs of defending the lawsuit.


  • Understand the allegations  – Complaints often contain unfamiliar wording, so have your lawyer explain the allegations and consequences in terms that you can understand. If you fully comprehend the allegations, then you might be able to locate key documents and evidence for the attorney, saving on attorneys’ fees.


  • Preserve any evidence – Evidence takes on many forms: emails, receipts, timecards, or contracts, to name a few.  Regardless of the form, it is often central to your lawsuit. Therefore, once located, keep it in a safe place.


  • Pinpoint witnesses – Identify as many witnesses as possible — both good and bad — that witnessed the incidents alleged in the complaint.


  • Be discreet — When served with a summons and complaint, resist the emotional urge to call the complaining party or a friend. Instead call an attorney.


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How Difficult Can It be to open a law firm?

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You may have just passed your law exam and don’t know what the future holds for you. On the other hand, you may have been working for a big law firm for several years and have relatively good job security.


Regardless of your situation, you want to strike out on your own and start a law firm yourself. Both of you want to start a law firm for the same reason: you want to be your own boss. You both are also wondering the same thing: do you have what it takes?


Although there will be start-up costs, the greatest cost will be your emotional investment. Stress alone can lead to health issues, which during the initial

start-up phase you can’t afford to take the time required to deal with them.


You will be putting in long hours — not only at first, but later when you have a deposition due or need to prepare for trial. Job security will be totally on you, and income is sure to be low at first, which can weigh heavily on you, especially if you have a family or education loans.


It is very likely that there will be no money coming in to pay yourself a salary for some time. It typically takes from three to five years for an attorney’s business to break even. However, the encouraging news is that your own law office could be paying you a six-figure salary at the end of those years, but it won’t be an easy three to five years.


If you have been employed with a law firm, then you probably have an idea of what is involved in the daily operation of a law firm, although you may not know what it takes to start one from scratch. Of course, if you are a new law school graduate, you probably have very little knowledge of what is involved.


Following is a list of some items you will want to concentrate on.


  • Select a niche — It would be impossible for you to practice the one hundred-plus areas of law that exist today. From administrative law to international law to water law, with highly specialized niches like biotechnology law, cryptography law, and nationality law, your office should become proficient at practicing one of them.


  • Launch a law office website or law blog — These internet tools serve as another way to draw attention to your law office and to answer potential clients’ questions.

Prepare for a paperless office – The necessary software and technology will give clients state-of-the-art service.

  • Develop various plans – In today’s internet savvy world, a marketing plan is not enough. You will also need social media plan and networking plans.


  • Purchase malpractice insurance — Malpractice insurance will typically pay for your defense, plus any monetary fines.


  • Formulate a billing structure – Lawyers bill by the hour plus a various other ways: contingency fees, retainers, fixed fees, and estimated value.


  • Determine if you will need a physical office or a virtual law office.

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