Jun 5, 2017 - Articles

What is Estate Planning and Why Should You Do It?

What Is Estate Planning? What on earth is estate planning? Many people don’t have a clue. Estate planning sounds like a rich person’s concern. However, estate planning is not only for the rich. It is also important for people with limited assets. Everyone has an Estate, and Everyone Should Make Plans to Protect It. So, what is estate planning? Everyone no matter how rich or poor has an estate. Your estate is made up of all the things you own. Your house, car, financial accounts, insurance accounts, jewelry, furniture, clothes, and pets are all part of your estate. Estate planning assumes that (at some point) you will no longer be able to make decisions about your things or how you will provide for the people you love.  So, estate planning allows you to decide in advance what you will give away, who will get your things, when they will get your them, and even what they have to do in order to get them. Estate planning also lets you plan how you and your loved ones will be protected when you become incapacitated. You can decide what end of life care you will receive, you can plan who will get your money, and you can protect your family from future creditors and unwise spending. A Simple Example: How Estate Planning Can Help Rufus. Let’s consider a simple example of estate planning. Imagine you have a beloved golden retriever named Rufus. What would happen to Rufus if something happened to you? […]

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Apr 11, 2017 - Articles

Sharing the Road: Six Tips for Motorists and Cyclists From a Personal Injury Lawyer

As a Doylestown personal injury attorney, this time of year brings with it awareness of an increased number of bicycles riders out on the country roads of Bucks County. Sharing the road with bicyclists, whether riding alone or as part of a cycle club, can be a challenge for many motor vehicle drivers. We thought this would be good time for both drivers and riders to be reminded of several tips in order to avoid accidents involving bicycles. Tips For Sharing the Road 1. Remember that operators of pedalcycles, including bicycles, when ridden on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. While cyclists cannot ride on freeways (limited access highways), they can on all other roads. Moreover, while cyclists have to ride on the right side of the road, they do not have to ride on the far right or shoulder of the road, unless they are moving slower than the prevailing speed of traffic at the time. Cyclists are not permitted to ride more than two abreast on any roadway. 2. Motor vehicle operators should always reduce their speed when approaching and passing a cyclist. Allow a sufficient amount of space, at least 3 feet or more between your vehicle and a cyclist. Be especially careful when approaching a hill or incline. Wait to pass a cyclist, only after you have determined that you can adequately see approaching traffic and yield appropriately. Always allow for an adequate distance when merging back into the desired […]

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Apr 6, 2017 - Estate Planning


The primary techniques to reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes in 2017 are as follows: 1. The Unlimited Marital Deduction. This technique avoids any federal estate tax on a transfer of property between spouses; however, the effect is often to merely postpone the tax to the death of the second spouse. 2. Credit Shelter Trust. By use of this technique, both spouses can fully utilize each of their $5,459,000 estate tax exclusion amounts (i.e., each can use their unified credit) and thus spouses can pass up to a combined total of $10,998,000 federal estate tax free. A less effective way to utilize both spouses’ unified credits is through a “portability” election at the death of the first spouse. 3. Lifetime Exclusion Giving. Every person is entitled to gift up to $14,000 per donee, to an unlimited number of donees, during any calendar year, without such gifts being subject to federal gift or estate tax, without the requirement to file a gift tax return, and without impacting a person’s lifetime unified credit amount. Through a technique known as “gift splitting,” married couples can give up to $28,000 of jointly held property per donee per year. Gifts can be made in cash, or through other creative techniques, such as gifting shares in a Family Partnership set up for that purpose. (The $14,000 gift exclusion amount applies in 2017 and will be adjusted in future years to take inflation into account.) 4. Charitable Gifts. You get a deduction for federal estate tax purposes […]

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Apr 6, 2017 - Estate Planning


A very effective tool for dealing with the federal estate tax is the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust. This type of Trust is fundamentally different from a Revocable Living Trust. Because it is irrevocable, an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust cannot be changed or revoked even while you are living. However, as a result, any assets transferred by you to the Irrevocable Trust are effectively removed from your taxable Estate. An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust is usually funded with a single asset. Often that asset is a “permanent” (whole life or universal life) life insurance policy, where the premiums are paid over a period of 7-15 years. Upon your death, the insurance proceeds are exempt from federal estate tax because the proceeds are not included in your taxable estate. However, the Trust will permit the proceeds to be used to pay the federal estate tax liability incurred by your estate. EXAMPLE: John and Sara’s estate has grown to $12,000,000. They can effectively shield and transfer up to $11,000,000 (in 2017) of that estate to their children by utilizing a Credit Shelter Trust. However, $1,000,000 of their estate will still “exposed” to federal estate tax, and will suffer a federal estate tax liability of approximately $400,000. John and Sara set up a joint Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, specifying that the trustee will buy a $500,000 policy on the joint lives of John and Sara. (Joint life policies tend to be considerably less expensive than a life insurance policy insuring the life of one […]

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Apr 6, 2017 - Estate Planning

Will I Have to Pay Federal Estate Tax?

Most estates are exempt from federal estate tax and are not required to file a Federal Estate Tax Return on Form 706 or pay any Federal Estate Tax. The current (2017) exemption amount is an inflation-adjusted 5,490,000. A married couple can shield up to double that amount (i.e., $10,980,000) in transfers by careful planning.  The Republican Congress has introduced bills to repeal the Federal Estate Tax (House: H.R. 631, 115th Cong., 1st Sess. (Jan. 24, 2017); Senate: S. 205, 115th Cong., 1st Sess. (Jan. 24, 2017)), but there is no assurance that such repeal legislation will ever become law.  The federal estate tax is the “grand-daddy” of all taxes, as the applicable current tax rate starts at 40%.  At Drake, Hileman & Davis we work hard to reduce or eliminate the federal estate tax burden of our clients through careful lifetime estate planning strategies (such as use of credit shelter trusts, marital deduction trusts and so-called “portability” elections) as well as post-mortem (after death) tax planning (such as by use of qualified disclaimers). If a federal estate tax return is required, we have a very knowledgeable team ready and able to correctly and efficiently prepare and file your federal estate tax return. Call us if you have a large estate or if you have questions about Federal Estate Taxes. We can help you quickly determine if the estate is subject to federal estate taxes. We can help find ways to reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes. We can help you prepare […]

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Apr 3, 2017 - Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian Safety

Each year thousands of pedestrians are injured and killed in accidents with vehicles.  These accidents are tragic but often preventable.  Drivers and pedestrians need to take steps to ensure everyone’s safety.  Contact an Allentown injury law attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC today by calling 888-777-7098 if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a pedestrian-related accident. Pedestrian Injury Statistics The statistics surrounding pedestrian-related vehicle accidents are extremely sobering.  A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found sobering statistics relating to pedestrian accidents.  In the year surveyed: There were 4,735 pedestrians killed in traffic. On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes in crashes. Pedestrian deaths accounted for 14 percent of all traffic-related deaths. 26 % of pedestrian fatalities occurred in the evening hours. 69% of the pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were males. Alcohol involvement (driver and/or the pedestrian) was reported in 49% of all fatal accidents. Unfortunately, the survey also found that one-in-five of the pedestrians killed were struck in crashes that involved hit-and-run drivers.  These statistics make it clear that pedestrians must take steps to protect themselves. Please contact one of the personal injury attorneys at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC today if you have been injured in a car accident.  Getting us involved early in the process is critical to ensuring you get full compensation for your injuries. How Can Pedestrians Protect Themselves? The Centers for Disease […]

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Mar 31, 2017 - Personal Injury

Surgical Instruments Left Inside Patients

In the U.S., medical malpractice – the reckless or negligent actions of medical professionals – results in thousands of serious injuries and even deaths each year.  Shockingly, each year medical instruments are left inside of surgical patients: this is a serious act of malpractice.  Contact the Easton personal injury law firm of Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC today at 888-777-7098 if you have been injured due malpractice of a medical professional. How Often are Medical Instruments Left Inside Patients During Surgery? Unfortunately, medical instruments are left inside of patients far too often.  A CBS News article reported that in the U.S. an estimated 800 people had surgical devices left in them between 2005 and 2013.  Another article released by the Associated Press gave the following examples: A man in Ohio had two surgical towels left in his body after surgery at a Veterans hospital. The man won a $275,000 settlement. California regulators fined a hospital in that state $50,000 for leaving a towel in a patient after abdominal surgery. A Kentucky jury awarded a woman $2.5 million after she required surgery to remove a sponge left inside her after a hysterectomy three years earlier. Unfortunately, part of her small intestine had to be removed. These are just a few examples.  Surgical professionals must take reasonable steps to ensure that instruments are not left inside of patients after surgery.  Sponges, towels, sharp instruments and other items used during a surgery can cause infections, internal bleeding and other serious complications if left […]

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Mar 29, 2017 - Personal Injury

Defective Product Liability Defenses

There are several different ways in which a company will attempt to defend itself if one of its products has harmed someone.  We understand these defenses and what is needed to show they do not apply.  Contact an Allentown injury law attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC today to discuss any injuries you may have suffered from an unsafe or defective product. What is a Defective Product Liability Defense? In a courtroom each party attempts to prove (or disprove) certain facts.  For example, the plaintiff party will try to show that the company that manufactured or distributed the product knew (or should have known) that the product was unsafe for its intended purpose.  On the other hand, the defense party will try to show that something or someone else was the cause of the injury in question. We work for the injured.  It is our job to ensure that you and your family get the compensation that they deserve for the injuries that you have suffered.  We believe that your family’s safety should always be placed in front of corporate profits and that is why we fight hard for you. What Are the Different Types of Defective Product Liability Defenses? There are several major defective product liability defenses.  Each has a unique legal attributes that the attorneys at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC have dedicated their careers to understanding.  Below is a summary of those defenses.  Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns. Statute of Limitations. […]

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Mar 27, 2017 - Personal Injury

Dangerous Toys

Manufactures and distributors of dangerous or defective toys may be responsible for the injuries those toys cause.  Those profiting from the sale of a toy must place the safety of a child first.  Contact a Bethlehem accident attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC today at 888-777-7098 if your child has been injured while using a dangerous or defective toy. Recent Toy Recalls and Toy Recall Statistics The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) keeps a list of toys that are undergoing a recall due to their dangerous or defective nature.  Here are some of the most recent recalls: Moose Toys Recalls Toy Frogs. These toys were found to be projectile hazards and leaked toxic chemicals.  The defective toys resulted in at least two injuries severe enough to require an emergency room and doctor’s office visits for eye issues. Chicken Toys Recalled by Bingo Deals. These toys were found to be a choking hazard for children. Alex Toys Recalls Infant Building Play. These toys – which were marketed for infants – have been recalled because they present a serious risk of chocking to infants. CPSC also complies reports on toy-related injuries and deaths.  For example, during the 2015 year, the CPSC received 11 reports of toy-related deaths among children younger than 15 years old (10 of the 11 victims were younger than 12 years of age).  Riding toys were associated with 45 percent of the reported deaths (all of the riding toy deaths were due to motor vehicle involvement). The […]

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Mar 24, 2017 - Articles

Clear that Vehicle: the Dangers of Ice Missiles

As Allentown car accident attorneys, following this most recent snow storm, we’ve been very cognizant of snow and ice flying off the back of moving vehicles. A dash-cam video shows how this dangerous this driving hazard can be. Seeing this, you too must have thought, “That should be illegal.” In some states, it is. On Christmas Day, 2005, Christine Lambert and her family were traveling through Carbon County, Pennsylvania, to visit relatives, when an eight-inch chunk of ice flew off the roof of a tractor-trailer. The flying ice chuck, broke through the windshield of the Lamberts’ sport utility vehicle, killing Christine. The police never identified the driver of the tractor-trailer. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, allowing ice and snow to remain on the external surfaces of your car, truck or tractor trailer, can always lead to civil liability for causing injury to another vehicle, operator or pedestrian, but whether the police can issue you a ticket for failing to remove accumulated ice or snow from exposed surfaces on your vehicle, differs between the two states. In Pennsylvania, as a result of Christine Lambert’s death, legislation was passed to add criminal consequences to this behavior. See, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3720 Unfortunately, it only applies if the flying snow or ice actually injures someone or damages something. This would be like only issuing a speeding ticket, if the operator actually caused an accident. It doesn’t prospectively curb dangerous behavior. While this failure to remove ice and snow from the roof, trunk, […]

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