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Greensburg Legal Issues Blog

Understanding Pennsylvania drug possession laws

The laws associated with drug crimes can differ from state to state. When a person is charged with drug possession in Pennsylvania, it is important that he or she understands exactly what the allegations mean and what the possible consequences are. By having this information, it may help an accused person when building a criminal defense.

When it comes to drug possession charges, it is possible to face either misdemeanor or felony allegations. The type of charge and possible penalties that may apply depend on the type of substance and the amount of the substance allegedly in possession. For instance, if a person is in possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana, he or she may face a misdemeanor charge that could result in up to 30 days in prison and possibly a fine up to $500 if a conviction takes place.

Estate planning still important for childless or unmarried adults

If a person is unmarried or does not have children, he or she may assume that having a will and other documents is not necessary. In reality, Pennsylvanians would be wise to undertake certain estate planning steps in order to avoid complications in the future. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to planning for the future, and a person can craft an estate plan to suit his or her unique objectives.

Even if a person does not have children, it is still smart to plan for the possibility of being incapacitated at some point in the future. Through a power of attorney and health care directives, a person can plan for medical care and types of treatment wanted in the event of a serious illness or injury. This can prevent family members from having to make difficult medical decisions because the individual has already specified the action (or inaction) that he or she would want taken.

These mistakes could render estate planning useless

Planning for the future is something that every Pennsylvania adult should consider doing sooner rather than later. Even those who do not have significant assets could benefit from even basic estate planning. However, simply signing some documents is not enough to make sure that a plan does what an individual intends it to do.

Understanding what each document does, along with any steps needed in order for each of them to fulfill their purpose, is crucial to the process. Far too many individuals, including some here in Pennsylvania, fail to take the next steps after executing the documents, which could make them useless. For example, property needs to be transferred into a trust in order to receive the protections the document provides.

Avoid social media during divorce

No matter how you look at it, divorce is an emotional and complex process. Throw in social media and it becomes even more complicated. We post and share about everything on social media – our successes and failures, our daily happenings, our pictures and events and our career aspirations.

Social media is an everyday part of our lives, but it can get in the way if you’re in the midst of a divorce. As hard as it might be, try to limit or avoid using social media while you’re going through a divorce.

When family law proceedings are sought late in life

After being married for several decades or more, most Pennsylvania spouses have reached age 55 or beyond. In the past 20 years, the divorce rate in this age group has doubled. Many older people are filing petitions in family law court after deciding that they want to spend their golden years as singles or, at least, without their current spouses.

Divorce is never easy, but current data shows it may be even more stressful for those who pursue it late in life. Women, in particular, often encounter serious financial challenges when they end a marriage, especially if they sacrificed a career to stay home and raise their families. An astounding 27 percent of "gray divorce" women live in poverty, as opposed to just 11 percent of men in similar situations.

Prenuptial contracts are an important aspect of family law

Pennsylvania couples who plan to get married in the upcoming year have many things to consider. Since more couples are waiting to marry until they have established their careers and built independent financial security, one factor to address is how to protect their accomplishments against the possibility of divorce. For many generations, one aspect of family law that offers that protection is the prenuptial agreement.

Courts generally recognize the terms of a prenuptial agreement if they are fair and conform to state and federal laws. However, it is important for both parties to take every reasonable step to ensure the validity of the document. For example, the contract must be written, carefully read and reviewed by both parties, and signed within an appropriate time before the wedding day. Courts are likely to sustain a prenuptial agreement challenge if one spouse did not seem to have adequate time to consider the terms.

Parents initiate civil litigation after son breaks leg

Business owners in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have an obligation to take every reasonable step to protect customers and visitors to their premises. This may be especially true when children are the primary client since they are not always able to recognize when they may be in danger. When a facility that caters to children fails to maintain the highest standards of safety, there is a risk that children will suffer injuries leading to civil litigation.

In another state, parents took their children to a trampoline park to celebrate their son's 13th birthday. At one point in the celebration, the teen was climbing the rock wall feature when he jumped from the wall to the pit below. The pit was filled with foam blocks, and – by industry standards – should have had a trampoline beneath the blocks. However, there was no trampoline to catch the boy when he jumped.

Avoiding common estate planning mistakes

As the year comes to an end, many in Pennsylvania are making resolutions for a positive 2019. One of the best resolutions people can make for themselves and their families is to begin the process of estate planning. This is not something that can be rushed or done without careful consideration since it involves issues that deal with the end of someone's life as well as providing for loved ones through an inheritance. For such sensitive matters, it is wise to have legal counsel to avoid some of the common mistakes that can result in distress for those left behind.

Even the simplest estate may have different kinds of assets that would be difficult for loved ones to find and manage after the estate owner's death. These may include real estate in other states, bank accounts in multiple banks, investments and digital assets. Failing to leave loved ones with the information and authorizations they need to locate and access those accounts can create confusion and stress. Some advisors recommend that clients keep a roster of those accounts, locations and passwords in a secure place where loved ones can find them when necessary.

DUI rates rise during the holiday season

For most, the holiday season is a time of merriment and cheer and a chance to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, the holiday season also means a higher number of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests, crashes and fatalities both in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 300 people lost their lives nationally in alcohol-related crashes during the stretch of time between Christmas and New Year’s Day over the past five years. In 2016, almost 800 people died in December alone as a result of drunk driving crashes.

Family law decisions make holidays difficult for some

Perhaps one of the most upsetting realizations newly divorced parents have is understanding they will be spending at least part of their holidays without their children. This may be a most painful separation, such as not having them at the table on Thanksgiving Day or waking up in an empty house on Christmas morning. Whether the decision was negotiated by the parents or handed down by a family law judge, it may be a difficult though not impossible adjustment to make.

Facing the holidays after a divorce, even when several years have passed, may be difficult for many Pennsylvania parents. It is understandable to grieve the separation from one's children or losing favorite traditions. It may help to know there are other parents going through the same thing, and seeking them out may give one something to look forward to on the hardest days.

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Skala | Miller
Skala Miller, PLLC, Attorneys at Law

115 N. Main Street
Greensburg, PA 15601

Phone: 724-221-3181
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