A Legal Checklist – Issues to Consider Every Year

What to Put on Your Legal Checklist

 

Legal Checklist

It is important to take stock of legal matters each year. A checklist can help you stay organized.

The start of the year is a good opportunity to take a look at the important legal matters that have shaped your life over the last 12 months and take stock of any matters that need your attention.  The following is a summary of issues to assist you in resolving your 2016 legal issues and get you ready to face any changes coming your way in 2017.  We hope using this checklist will ease your mind and bring you comfort that you are ready to take on the new year:

  • Have you made a will?
    • Do you need to update an existing will?
    • Are you satisfied with the choices you’ve made for your estate and arrangements for your children should you pass away unexpectedly? If this year has taught us anything, it’s the necessity for Estate Planning in such uncertain times.
    • Do you have a Power of Attorney or do you know someone who needs a Power of Attorney?  With an ever aging population of Baby Boomers, it is very helpful to plan ahead and have the authority to make changes when the time comes.
    • Do you have a living will or know someone who needs one?  Don’t let your health care decisions be made by others.  Take control of your own destiny.  A living will can provide you peace of mind that your medical care will be handled your way.
  • Check your beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies, investment accounts, and retirement accounts.  Make sure that you know who is entitled to money should you pass away.
  • Check your W4.  Do you want to keep the same exemptions in 2017 that you had in 2016?  A marriage, divorce, or death can change things.
  • Gather your tax documents and be ready to take on the 2016 tax season.
  • Do you need to change the title of a car or home or other property?  Marriage, divorce, and death can require changes.
  • Now is a good time to review your auto, home, health, life or other insurance policies to make sure you have the appropriate coverage.  Do you have any balance left in your Health Savings Account?  Do you have the proper selections you want for 2017?
  • When was the last time you got a credit report?  Make sure you know everything the creditors know.
  • Are you saving for college?  Are you interested in putting money aside but don’t know how to get started?  Now could be a good time to look into a PA 529 and its tax benefits.
  • Are you getting married this year?  Are you getting divorced?  A pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreement can help simplify the future and give you peace of mind.

Conclusion

Remember, you should consider your legal checklist each year. If you find you need assistance, do not hesitate to contact our firm. Since 1962,  Hoffmeyer & Semmelman  has taken pride  in educating the public.  We are  always grateful for the opportunity  to  proactively assist  with the  legal needs of our clients.

 

By:  Katharine S. Marteny, Support Professional

© Copyright by Hoffmeyer & Semmelman LLP,  January 2017

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katharine (Katie) Marteny recently joined the staff of Hoffmeyer & Semmelman, LLP as a Support Professional in the Family Law Division.   Katie earned a B.S. in Environmental Resource Management from the Pennsylvania State University and obtained a Juris Doctor from Temple University Beasley School of Law.   Katie  Marteny is a talented and welcome addition to staff.

ABLE Act Update

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014

ABLE ActOn December 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014. This Act establishes tax treatments of ABLE accounts under state programs for the care of family members with disabilities.  The purpose of the Act is to encourage and assist individuals and families in saving private funds to support individuals with disabilities to maintain health, independence, and quality of life. The ACT is effective for tax years after Dec 31, 2014 and repeals, amends, or references the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.  For more information on the ABLE Act of 2014, please refer to our March 15, 2015 article, “Achieving a Better Life Experience – What is the ABLE Act?

Pennsylvania ABLE Act, 2016 Act 17

On April 18, 2016, the Pennsylvania legislature enacted the Pennsylvania ABLE Act, 2016 Act 17.  The Act provides for the Pennsylvania Department of the Treasury to establish a savings program to encourage the opening of savings accounts for individuals with disabilities.  The Department must maintain the savings program in a manner to ensure the program’s status as a qualified ABLE program.

An eligible individual or a fiduciary for the disabled person can open a PA ABLE account.  The funds in the ABLE account can be used to pay for qualified expenses related to the eligible person’s disability.  Eligible expenses may include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, and expenses for oversight and monitoring.  Anyone can deposit funds into the ABLE account and gifts may not reduce the beneficiary’s Supplemental Security Income SSI benefits.  SSI benefits may be impacted in certain situations.  The ABLE account will not impact any state needs based benefits for health, disability or education.  Although other states may offer ABLE accounts, there may be additional benefits if accounts are opened in Pennsylvania rather than in other states.  For example, HB1319 would allow ABLE contributions to be deducted from Pennsylvania income taxes.  This bill is currently working through the legislature.

The Department of Treasury anticipates PA Able accounts will be available by the end of 2016.  The Department of Treasury has developed a pre-launch brochure, PA ABLE Brochure, to highlight some of the features and benefits of PA ABLE.  Before making any decisions about participating in the program, you should read the disclosure statement from the Treasury Department when the PA ABLE accounts are available.

Questions? Contact Hoffmeyer & Semmelman

The estate planning attorneys with Hoffmeyer & Semmelman, LLP would be happy to meet with you to establish an individualized estate plan for an individual with disabilities. Contact us today for assistance.

 

By:  Valerie Haight, Support Professional 

Reviewed by: William F. Hoffmeyer, Esquire

© Copyright by Hoffmeyer & Semmelman LLP,   November  2016

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