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.

Breaking News:   Divorces in PA May Soon Require 1 Year Separation Instead of 2

Decreased Waiting Period for Divorces in Pennsylvania

waiting period for divorce in PA

The time period required to wait for a divorce is likely to soon decrease from two years to one.

One of the first questions we are asked when a client comes to us seeking a divorce is, “how long will I have to wait?” The answer always depends on the type of divorce as well as whether either party refuses to cooperate.

Time Period Depends on Cooperation

For a mutual consent no-fault divorce, the waiting period is 90 days after the divorce complaint is served. But when one party refuses to cooperate, the waiting period for a no-fault was two years. Recently though, Pennsylvania decided to lessen that waiting period to one year. This change has not yet been signed into law.  Obviously, this is good news if one party refuses to cooperate, since a divorce may now be granted in half the time.

Why a Waiting Period?

You may wonder why Pennsylvania has a waiting period for divorces at all? The answer is that there are times when spouses may choose to reconcile after having a period to cool off. In the case of an agreed-upon divorce, it makes sense to move quickly, hence the 90 days. But when one party does not desire a divorce, the view is that it is better to allow the parties a longer time period to consider reconciliation.  The current and proposed law provides the waiting period only after which can a spouse begin the process to divide assets, unless the parties otherwise agree.

Why a Shorter Waiting Period?

Many family law attorneys have sought a shorter waiting period in Pennsylvania for many years. Why is this the case?

  • A two-year period is quite long, as compared to many other states which have periods as short as six months. One year is still enough time to consider reconciliation, if the parties desire to do so.
  • In cases involving abuse, it is unfair to require the abused party to stay in a marriage. And yet, abusers will frequently refuse to grant a divorce, often as a method of control. Decreasing the time period balances legitimate efforts to reconcile, while providing a shortened time period for those who are victims to move on with their lives.
  • Divorce has a great impact on the children. The sooner the divorce is finalized and all custody matters are set, the easier it will be for children to find themselves in a set schedule and a place of predictability. A long divorce period simply continues the uncertainty the children may be feeling.
  • The longer the time-period, especially with a difficult spouse, the more time for that spouse to file motions and cause problems for the spouse who wants the divorce finalized. This simply causes more expense for all parties involved.

In the end, the purpose for a shorter waiting period is to prevent one party in a marriage which cannot be saved, regardless of how long the parties wait, from holding up the divorce longer than is reasonably necessary. The Pennsylvania legislature and Governor recognized this fact in passing the change to the law.

Seeking a Divorce?

If you are seeking a divorce or have questions about the new, shortened time-period for divorces, feel free to reach out to Hoffmeyer & Semmelman, today. We have three experienced divorce lawyers on staff to meet your needs.

© Copyright by Hoffmeyer & Semmelman LLP, September 2016